I think one of the biggest struggles we have this day is that we’re constantly connected to the world around us. Computers, smart phones, tablets, video games, everything is connected to everything else. It becomes very hard to escape from this technological trap we’ve created. So, how do you unplug?
For some people – this can be a very traumatic experience. I used to be one of those people. I was so connected to work and the world around me that I could never let go. I was always checking email, working on projects at home during the late hours of night, responding to everything on every social platform that existed – I lived in a world full of anxiety and stress. It was a cycle that I couldn’t break.
I decided that the best way to break this addiction, and that’s what it is, an addiction, was to set up rules for when and where I would use technology. I came up with the following list:
1. Don’t use your smartphone in your car – ever. No texting, no talking, no checking email.
This was the first step I took. That was 2 hours a day that I wasn’t available to the world. It was easy to do, because I found other things like listening to music and audiobooks could fill that void of data overload. It was a good start, and helped wean me off of my reliance on technology.
2. Don’t check email past 8pm.
Whatever email you get at 8pm is not so important that it can’t wait until tomorrow morning. If it is absolutely critical, you have my number and can call me – however, I also don’t take phone calls after 10pm.
3. Limit computer usage at home to 1 hour a night.
This includes video games, online chatter, browsing and so on. I used to get caught in a pattern of going on for 30 minutes, and next thing I knew – 4 hours had gone by.
Eventually, I broke my bad habits and could find it easier to “unplug” – family vacations got a whole lot better, my general level of stress went way down, I started feeling better.
Once you manage to break free – you’ll find yourself with this void in your life that was formerly consumed by your need for data. That’s why I decided I would make sure that all of my hobbies were low-tech. I wanted to do something that was the complete opposite of my 9-5 routine. That’s probably how I got started in leatherworking and my completely insane hobby of armor making. I work with my hands, with raw materials, and there is no background static, no data interruption – just me and my tools. I’m not saying you need to take it to such an insane level – find something you enjoy doing – reading, going out for a run, spending time with your family – make that time YOUR time, and don’t let your devices run your life.