Monthly Challenge: Break the Always-On Addiction

August 2, 2013 · 7 comments

in Monthly Challenge

On Dancer, On Prancer, On Cupid and Dixon…

Oh, wait, it’s still August. How about…

On Thinking, On Focus, On Reading some Fiction…

Off Cell Phone. Off Email. Off Always-on Addiction!

I’m not alone in this action-packed, always-on addicted world.

Michelle Lowery and I chatted about such on Facebook the other night. She’s taking 9 days off technology, a fast, to break her digital addiction. I salivated!

Technology Breaks - Reading Outside Technology Breaks – Reading Outside

In nearly 4 years, I have NOT taken an unplugged vacation in which I didn’t work. Unplug? What’s that? (Oh, yes… My husband has gotten used to me working on vacations – client work, speaking pitches or presentations, etc.) 9 days unplugged? Could that be Heaven?

Last week I started scheduling breaks to sit outside – to read, to pray, to listen to the birds, to enjoy the beauty around me, to just be in the moment.

Break time isn’t daily and has only been 20-30 minutes. At first, my mind wandered. I felt naked without my phone or iPad. What was wrong with me??? Resisting the urge to go back to an electronic device, I forced myself to stay in the moment. A rush occurred… I soaked in the beauty of a Crate and Myrtle tree that had popped pink like fireworks.

Unplugging – Breaks from Technology

Michelle saw the cover of the July/August edition of Fast Company, UNPLUG, which inspired her. I wanted to know more.

This search result snippet summarizes what I need on a daily basis:

Unplug Fast Company SERP

That SERP was enough to confirm that a “stint” offline would be a binge for me – or just a one-time “bucket-list item.” I need a change in lifestyle.

I’m taking the month of August to focus on rewiring my brain – to re-instill a discipline of years gone by. This month, I am practicing taking technology breaks to:

Think. Focus. Read. Rejuvenate.

Mindfulness and being in the present is essential to do any of those things. That article in Fast Company summarized a purposed approach:

To truly unplug requires a disciplined approach to mentally detach from the in- and outflow of useless information. This detachment then becomes about–and maybe comes from–being mindful about what we do every day.

Did you catch this?

“…mentally detach from the in- and outflow of useless information.”

I surely don’t need to explain how many trivial and useless posts on Facebook and Twitter clutter our minds as well as waste our time. Enough said, period.

The author explains more about how one can unplug and rewire:

Mindfulness… “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.” It does not imply taking a vacation every other month or putting away your digital devices for a day or two to reach a fleeting grasp of what might feel like nirvana.

That means NOT doing the following every 15, 25, or 50 minutes:

  • Reading Twitter
  • Scrolling through Facebook
  • Checking email
  • Texting your friends, especially while driving <pet peeve>

It DOES mean:

  • Consuming higher quality content
  • Producing content (writing blog posts)
  • Reading books (at least start with one!)
  • Enjoying meals with people without looking at your phone <another pet peeve>

Turning Off Notification

I was chatting with Niki Gross earlier this week about how our brains really do not/cannot multi-task. She said she turned off notifications to get work done. We agreed that notifications distracted and lost time and productivity!

Soooo… I actually turned off notifications!

Notifications off for Facebook & Hootsuite (Twitter) Notifications off for Facebook & Hootsuite (Twitter)

Have an iPhone? Take control of your life by going to:

Settings > Notifications > Alert Style (None) & Badge App Icon & Sound (OFF)

I plan to save my battery life… and my brain!

Digital Addict

Confession: While writing this post, I cannot believe the urge to check Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and email.

Have I lost my ability to focus outside of work? To write a blog post? You can tell by the frequency of my posts that not much gets written. Why?

I’m a Digital Addict!

I admit that part of this is due to having an overflow of work. Even though work is rewarding, not allowing “white space” and staying connected, day after day, takes a toll.

The result…

My brain is fried!

Brain, served sunny-side up on a keyboard platter with a side of Internet and a glass of social media juice.

That’s my breakfast, lunch and dinner! No kidding. How many of you eat in front of some type of screen?

The Result – Burnout

I know the signs and recently started reading posts about burnout.

A search for “signs of burnout” elicits Google’s medical condition and symptom search results, meaning they determine it to be a medical condition:

Signs of Burnout Google Search

Again, I know I’m not alone.

That’s the reason for this post and my challenge to break the always-on addiction in hopes of recovering. Actually, I’m doing three things:

  1. Beginning a Monthly Challenge in which I tackle one area of improvement or life change.
  2. Blogging about it, at least 1 blog a month. (That would be improvement alone!)
  3. Unplugging more often each day to be in the moment – to think, focus, read, enjoy people, and rewire the brain!

Matt Cutts inspired me years back with his 30-Day Challenge. Many times I’ve wanted to tell Matt how much his challenges have changed my life, but he’s usually surrounded by fans at conference. So,

“Matt, thank you for setting the bar high for us to improve quality content…in our lives!”

Serendipitous Timing

I started writing a blog post at 6:30am after reading a daily devotional about sitting quietly in this “action-addicted world.” That was my sign it was time.

Then… Three of the biggest hosting providers went down…for HOURS!

Bluehost, HostGator, Hostmonster Go Down - 8/2/2013 Bluehost, HostGator, HostMonster Go Down – 8/2/2013

Yes, serendipitous timing! It was freeing – after Chicken Little realized the sky was not falling!

Next, I’ll be going to Barnes and Noble and getting the Unplug edition of Fast Company. I want to read the Unplug article OFFLINE!

What about you? Do you take technology breaks? Dare you?

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