Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of time I spend looking at a screen. I spend most of my working day plugged in to my laptop or attached to my phone. Then evenings were spent blogging or checking into my social media accounts.
In my past post, ‘Do I need more blog-life balance?’ I wrote about how blogging had taken up most of my spare time. Evenings, weekends and non-working days were spent on activities relating to blogging. In addition, work had been really busy so I was working long days. The result was that I felt like I was always switched on. My mind was constantly thinking about the next task and I just generally felt like I needed a good break to relax. Thankfully this all coincided with a family holiday we had already planned to Pembrokeshire and couple of weeks off work. I thought that this would be an ideal time to have a break from technology.
What alarmed me slightly was that I found this really hard initially. Normally if I’m not working, I’ll check into my emails to make sure I’m not missing anything important. The first couple of days of this intended ‘digital detox’ I found myself slipping back into checking my phone ‘just in case’. In the end I had to switch off my work phone and hide it in a drawer. I hoped that it would be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’!
One of the hardest things I found about this digital detox was stepping back from my blog and Twitter. I’m really only a couple of months into the blogging world and worried that I would see my stats drop and my Twitter interactions and followers reduce. The first week was really hard as I felt like I should be writing posts and joining linkups. I became so fixated on the fact that people may think I was being rude and ignoring their tweets and comments that I found myself logging in to apologise for not being online. Hmmm, something not quite right there! In the end I just had to accept that if this digital detox was going to work, I had to switch off from everything.
In the end, I did have a complete break from work and blogging for a while and I really needed it! Taking this break and really allowing myself to switch off was a really positive experience. I needed that time to highlight how plugged into technology I was and the negative affect that was having on me. It’s funny how we don’t realise how technology can take over our lives until we have a break from it.
So how did having a digital detox benefit me?
- My mind relaxed – I really allowed myself to switch off completely. I realised that I often spend time thinking about what I think I should be doing, and quite often those things are related to technology. Although this was hard at first, within a few days I was enjoying this new-found freedom from the digital world.
- I read books – I love reading but haven’t been doing enough of it lately. I replaced my technology time with curling up with a book and a cup of tea. Bliss!
- I was much more present – I would often try and multi-task, so playing with the children and checking Facebook, or cooking dinner and checking my emails. I could now really focus on what I should be doing without distraction. It’s amazing how less stressful life is when you can focus on one thing!
- I realised I had been spending too much time plugged into technology – I had got into some bad habits of staring at a screen for a long time. It was the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did at night. This really didn’t help with that feeling of not being able to switch off.
I know I wouldn’t want to switch off from technology completely, but I am making a real effort to reduce the amount of time I spend attached to digital products. I now don’t have my phone in my bedroom at night (more reading time!) and try not to be online at least an hour before I go to bed so that I can give my mind time to switch off. I did come back to a few hundred emails when I came back online (how does that even happen?!) but I soon caught up. And the reality was that I didn’t really miss anything too urgent.
I find I’m not obsessing so much now about the time I may or may not be spending checking Facebook, tweeting or blogging. I just need to get the balance right. So my blog has been a little quiet over the last couple of weeks. Does that really matter in the grand scale of things? I’m hoping not and this is all part of the journey I’m on to find more balance in my life. Long shall it continue I hope!