one day digital detox article
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My First Digital Detox…Or…Crazy Things Happen When You Can Hear Yourself Think.

It’s been coming for a while. All the talk recently has been about how all this screen time and device addiction has been cooking our brains and totally screwing our wavelengths and whatnot. I’ve wanted to do a one-day digital detox, but I honestly didn’t know where to start. Seems odd, but there’s actually quite a lot of thought that goes into unplugging for a whole day! But let me tell you my friend, the results of pulling that plug were something beautiful, and quite unexpected.

I have a friend who does his digital detox once a year for five whole days!  That’s awesome, but he also has a wife. It would definitely be easier if you have a partner in crime to go for five days so you could stay in the loop a bit. Being solo, one day was the perfect place for me to experiment a little bit to see how it does, then maybe build from there.

So take this journey with me through what went through my head during my first one day digital detox.

Spoiler alert, I wasn’t 100% perfect, but this journey isn’t about perfection. It’s about progress. Especially in these days of being constantly tethered, connected, and pulled in so many directions, doing your own detox from your devices might be just what the doctor ordered!

My Digital Detox Plan

Before I get into the actual day, I guess I should let you know the general ground rules I laid out prior. As you’ll see, these were a little limited, and a lot of “questions” actually came up during my one-day detox. For the eternal over-thinker, I didn’t really think this one through, haha!

  • Planned to not use any digital devices, including my computer, tablet, phone, etc. Also planned to stay away from all screens in general
  • Let a couple of people know that I was planning to be unplugged, but that if they had an emergency I could take a phone call
  • Write shit down for the day off

One Day Digital Detox – Prepping

9pm, the night before the detox:

“Sh*t. What do I have to do tomorrow? I guess I should write that stuff down. Hmmmmmm. What are those thingies people use to write with again? Pen…pen…pencils? Yep. That sounds familiar! Now, paper…” (Proceeded to write down, from my digital calendar, things I was to do the next day so that I could keep them in my pocket.)

“Guess I should get my watch out so I know what time it is tomorrow, and print out that workout I’m supposed to do from the PDF on my computer.”

“When…or how will I know…when to wake up? Well, I guess I’m sleeping in!”

7:30am, The Start Of My One-Day Digital Detox. (AKA: “What Do I Do Now?)

“Well, I guess I can’t scroll facebook for 20 minutes, so I’ll just get up.”

I proceeded to put my watch on and checked the time. Then I tidied up a bit and left my phone in the bedroom along with my computer and tablet. I made my morning coffee and did something that I realized I hadn’t done in quite some time.

Stepping out into the morning light, I enjoyed my coffee outside, simply taking in the sunrise. I already felt a small weight lifted by having not wasted the first part of my woke-ness staring at Facebook, but instead conversing with mama nature a bit.

Why is it I don’t simply step outside in the mornings on the regular? It was something that I used to make a point to do. I also used to wake early and put a fire in the fire pit and work for an hour or two. Funny how quickly those things can get lost in the day-to-day.

9:30am: The Questions Start

While thoroughly enjoying an hour or so drinking my coffee and cleaning around the house, the voices were chatting endlessly. I then realized that I usually listen to music when I clean, or in general when it’s silent.

“Guess I can’t use Pandora. Maybe if I just pull it up on the tablet? No. Wait, does the radio count as digital? I guess it’s digital; or is it analog? Meh, it’s cool, at least I’m not staring at a screen.”

I proceed to pick up the remote and click over to the tuner and start rockin’ out to some country. About a minute or so pass and a peculiar thought confronted me.

“Man, I kinda liked it when I could hear myself think.”

Yep. Over those past 90+ minutes or so I had already taken tons of handwritten notes and epiphed, hard, quite a few times. (That’s my shorthand for “having an epiphany.” Go ahead. You can use it. You’re welcome. 😉 I also had a few moments where I literally noticed the sound of silence, and I kind of liked it!

So the radio went off for the rest of the morning!

When Did Chores Become Somewhat Enjoyable Again?

Over the next few hours, I slowly took care of many of the homeowner bullshit chores that constantly plague me when I’m not traveling. More about that interesting conversation here. (On a side note; Wow, I talk to myself a lot.) The interesting thing is that I was actually enjoying my chores, for the first time in a long time.

I epiphed (there it is again…) that the reason I was actually able to enjoy slowly cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, laundry, leaves, garage, etc., for 3-4 hours was simple. There was no concern about the article that I needed to write or the billable work that needed doing. No checking on whether so and so is active on Facebook, or any of the other things the screens signified.

I’m not kidding. I really believe I was able to enjoy these things because I had given myself permission to not bow down to the things the screen typically asked of me minute-to-minute. I was free to “just be” without the nag of what else I should be doing.

It was quite beautiful my friend.

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The Rest Of The Day Of My Digital Detox

So now that you have the foundation, you’ll likely not be surprised to know that the rest of the day was more of the same quiet beauty.

There was a slow flow about it, where I could actually hear, and sort my thoughts.

On a side note, I usually have those same moments when I’m out in nature, hiking. There’s less tech there too, so I’m definitely seeing a trend!

I did “falter” a little, since technically I looked at my phone twice just to make sure nobody had tried hard to get a hold of me. Luckily for me, I’m fairly unpopular! Haha! And I did catch some Moana with my friend’s tike while I visited them. But other than that, there was a beautiful calm for most of the day. My phone was left in my bedroom or my Jeep. Computer was never moved or opened.

If You Give A One-Day Digital Detox A Try, You Might Just Start A Habit…

So with that, I’ll leave you with a challenge:

Sometime in the next 4 weeks, grab a friend and plan your own one day digital detox. (An accountability partner always helps.)

Remember, this whole thing is an experiment. Give it a try, open your mind, and see what happens. The worst thing is that you hate it and you will have given your eyes a rest from the screens for a day.

But on the other side, some awesome things might happen. You might find that you’re making sense of those anarchic, disjointed conversations in your mind. Sensations will be heightened to notice a little more of what’s going on around you. You’ll talk to and show your appreciation to mama nature a bit more than usual. Maybe you’ll even enjoy the process of jotting down some notes with an actual pen/pencil and paper.

And just maybe you’ll find something that you see the benefit in making a habit. One of my goals for the year was to do one day of digital detox a month. Well, my friend, I’ve already planned my second for this month and I can’t wait.

Cheers!

— Jason

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