Breaker

Unplugged

An interesting email subject crossed my path today and it’s the perfect inspiration for something to write about. Have you ever heard of a National Day of Unplugging? Well guess what? It’s this weekend so you should check it out.

March 1 and 2 are National Unplug Day; this is a 24 hour global respite from technology. It highlights the value of disconnecting from digital devices to connect with ourselves, our loved ones and our communities in real time. 

What’s involved? You need to unplug from all technology from sundown March 1 to sundown March 2. Your unplugging can be for any reason; perhaps you know you’re a little too addicted to your phone, or you don’t get enough sleep because you’re up too late gaming online. Do you have an uncontrollable habit of checking Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat where you’re nose is buried in your phone instead of making eye contact with the person in the room who is talking to you? 

I will admit, that I spend a lot of time with my phone in my hand. I’m not making excuses, but the majority of my phone usage is spent on Chrome –researching, learning and reading. When I’m not reading, my phone is used most often for paying bills, managing the family calendar and other administrative family responsibilities like scheduling doctor appointments, reviewing communication from schools, coaches, etc. I do have some guilty pleasures — my latest is coloring by pixel app on my phone. It’s nerdy as hell but it’s relaxing. Prior to me finding my coloring app, I spent my downtime watching Netflix. 

I do not spend a lot of time on social media. I do not have FOMO and I don’t text or message very much. I avoid talking on the phone at all costs except for a few minutes a day. I don’t have a technology addiction, but will agree I’m very dependent on technology and would benefit from more unplugged time. 

I’m very much into the idea of doing a digital detox. Rather than coloring on my phone or watching tv, I would be a better version of me if I did any of the following instead: 

  • Read an actual book
  • Spend time talking with family or friends over a meal
  • Learn how to do something new by watching a real person do it
  • Walk to the beach
  • Go for a swim
  • Watch a baseball game
  • Take more spontaneous day trips

What about you? Are you too deeply reliant on technology? Would you go as far as to say you’re hooked? 

Whether you’re addicted or just a little too dependent, there’s an app called Forest that I’ve been meaning to try out to boost my productivity.

Last December I attended a talk by journalist and author Manoush Zomorodi, who was the host of the podcast Note To Self, which explores humans’ relationship with technology through conversations with listeners and experts. Manoush’s book, Bored and Brilliant, explores how separating yourself from technology can unlock your most productive and creative self.

I wholeheartedly agree with this idea because I’ve experienced it plenty of times. Here are some examples:

About two years ago I took on a project of painting my kitchen cabinets. All in all, the project took me several months because I decided to do 4 coats with a gel stain. I spent at least an hour, sometimes two, every day prepping, priming, staining, cleaning, etc. Doing something as monotonous as painting my cabinets brought out unique thoughts, ideas to consider, and new solutions for problems I was charged with solving at work. This makes complete sense. I spend all day long on a computer, thinking hard, managing risks, and analyzing information. The artsy project in the kitchen gave my brain time to recharge from all the sciency stuff I do at work all day. 

Sometimes I get lost in too many browser tabs (8 is like way too many for me!), too many spreadsheets, too many emails, too many Slacks, too many to-do’s from too many meetings. When I shut the laptop and take a real pen and a real notebook and go sit outside and think, draw, make pro’s and con’s lists, I suddenly am no longer lost — and it only takes an hour or so to feel so enlightened and recharged to move forward with clarity.

Give your brain a rest. Unplug from technology. Will you take part in a Day of Unplugging? 

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Katie Helgesen

Katie Helgesen is the Senior Director of Business Intelligence at Dealer Inspire, a fast-growing and award winning technology company near Chicago. Katie and her husband, Todd, have 4 awesome kids and love living in a small community centered on a lake in northwest Indiana. Baseball, t-ball, and soccer schedules are just a few pieces of Katie’s Mom Hustle. Her daydreams revolve around finding more “me time” and traveling. In real life, Katie keeps herself sane with naps, Netflix and eating out as often as she can.

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