Well hello Internet! What a week it's been . . .
Starting this Digital Detox adventure was something I felt both excited to start and reluctant about in equal measure. Being purposefully disconnected for two months felt like a huge undertaking looking in from the outside.
It's hard to remove yourselves from both your professional network and your social one too. It was feeling alien and I'm not sure I was fully liking the idea, but wanted to pursue it wholly and see how life adjusted. Would it adjust? Or would it feel too disconnected?
Being connected here while I write this article feels great but I've promised myself to limit these weekly diary entries to an hour, so here goes (my perfectionist tendencies to over edit will no doubt try to keep me here longer but I promise to try!) . . .
At this point, only five days in I am so impressed at how my days have changed shape and adapted so quickly! The start of the week was a bit of an exception to my version of 'normal living'. We had been away at a festival since Friday, so I was very grateful to know I had another day out of the office to get our festival-tatty selves refreshed and get back to some sense of normality (cue sore eyes, throbbing heads and ringing ears).
Feeling grateful to know I could have this extra day of nothing was definitely enhanced by knowing I could be excused from the usual online activities of social networking, email and writing to have the day to myself (and my big comfy bed).
Each day I've been noting down on a scale from 1 ~ 10
- overall mood // feeling
- how I slept
- daily fatigue levels
- the rush factor in my day
- connection with friends & family
- quality of meditation
- inner peacefulness // balance
- creativity // inspiration
- anxiety levels
- sense of wellbeing
- feeling of validation
I am so happy to say that all have been at healthy levels.
The most notable differences have been to my sleep, creativity and productivity with them having the most noticeable uplift.
Any feelings around anxiety I was prepared for in terms of feeling connected to my professional network and connection with friends have been pretty low.
I appreciate I am only one week in and intend to be very honest about how these change over time. With new habits will come new ways of thinking and I hope they will continue to stay healthy.
Before this started, I liked to think I had a pretty good grip on my digital life but am seeing already how many bad habits I had gradually slipped into. For example, charging my phone by my bed, even though it was switched off was never a healthy choice. Turning it on became the very first thing I did when I woke up in the morning. And although not every day, opening my email to see if anything urgent had come in was something I did indulge in more often than I'd like to admit to.
Then there are the notifications on social media. They were responded to before I'd even had my first sip of tea. I would excuse this by thinking that notifications must always be replied to ~ it's the polite thing to do. Now I'm realising that bleary-eyed messages sent before my brain was fully engaged could probably not be the best response. I'm thinking waiting until I know what day of the week it is first might be the way forward *wink*.
No matter what line of work you're in, from being a stay at home parent through to executives, a digital connection is so heavily relied upon and removing that which is part of the fabric of our modern existence is a big deal.
Late Wednesday evening I was starting to wonder if I had made a mistake. My working life is mostly online, almost all ways of getting the word out about my business and most of my social interactions start with my phone or internet connected devices. How on earth am I supposed to attract new clients and get articles out in my area of expertise without that? I decided to sleep on it and then Thursday happened.
Hello Thursday, you saucy minx . . .
Sometimes life does feel rather serendipitous. That morning I opened my email to a link from the lovely Mark (thanks @DorsetMark!) showing an Ofcom article on the digital detox concept was being covered by all the major news agencies on breakfast tv, including the effects of how life is impacted by our constant connectivity.
I smiled to myself and thought how coincidental that this should come up at the same time that I'm trying this detox experience. Maybe I'm not the only
insane person choosing to embark on this after all?! I happily started my day smiling at the thought of lots of other people doing similar things . . . and then the phone started to ring. And ring. And ring some more . . .
There I was, wondering how I was going to be in terms of getting myself seen by prospective clients and not falling back on my regular internet-based resources and I'm handed several opportunities to talk about my experience to a nationwide audience! Hurrah!
*Waves hello to new subscribers! Thanks for checking me out.
You can read the first piece on how I decided to start this project here*
There was also interest in talking again at the beginning of September to see how it's going at the halfway point.
Pleased? I was joyful! Maybe there is life after the internet after all . . .
This brings me to my next breakthrough of the week.
Having felt the benefits of the extra time I have found from not always flitting between browser tabs and social media, I've been able to get creative with some coaching tools. I am certain this level of absorption into the task at hand and getting truly into the flow with it would never have happened without the extra head space.
I have been concentrating my thoughts around Feelings and using how we desire to feel as the motivation for meeting our goals/plans/intentions, whatever you want to call them ~ rather than the end 'thing' being the motivation itself.
So instead of the approach "I will feel happy when I get that job / buy that car / go on holiday", reversing the thinking to
"I want to feel happy"
~ or whatever feelings you desire to feel ~
The end game is the feeling you want to have and the act of buying the car / taking the holiday/moving job is only the means to achieve the higher feeling, not where the feeling itself comes from. I promise to expand more on that another time ~ but for now, all I'm going to tell you is it lit me up brighter and brighter the more I got into the mindset of having our feelings as our pure motivator, rather than a goal of a tangible something-or-other.
Now, instead of turning my phone on first thing in the morning I take my time ~ that cute little flip phone is down on my desk waiting to be switched on at the appropriate time.
I have time to pause, write my morning thoughts and meditate. It's all good head space and my own feelings of well-being and levels of inspiration are lifting already. I feel more relaxed and certainly more present at every point in the day, something that would never have happened before I was able to deconstruct my old routines and start creating healthier habits.
I'm sure some of this sense of ease comes from the change in my mindset. I consciously put myself in a place of wanting to feel the positives from this experience, so my willingness to lean into the process has absolutely helped.
There are times when I know I will be feeling disconnected from friends, for example, I've passed up on invitations for online hangouts for different birthdays in our online community, so I do appreciate how the initial feelings of freedom could turn into feelings of missing out. Luckily, I can phone a few in the UK, but the others who live in farther-flung places won't be possible to reach ~ simply because most are friendships born from online connections and online is how we communicate.
Seeing as we're all friends here, I will admit to missing
- Amazon ~ next day book deliveries are my thing
- Facebook & Twitter ~ I miss my friends! Just being able to touch base and say a cheeky little hi is so lovely
- Google ~ I'm having to use my brain to remember that thing. You know, that thing that's just on the tip of your tongue and your memory just can't seem to get a grip on it
- Apple Music. I love streaming new channels to find artists I've never heard before
- Dark Sky ~ I have realised I check the weather far more than I ever thought possible and frankly, there are much better things to think about
- Online shopping - wahh!! I want my shopping fix!
- Motivational quotes ~ I did NOT see that one coming! It's such a good feeling to see affirmations everywhere. (I may stick some to my walls instead)
- Pinterest ~ Oh Pinterest! I didn't realise just how much I love those little boards! I've realised I use it as a search engine much more than I thought
It's all good though! I can say after this week my feelings around digital detoxing are all positive. Having time to switch off and read, get active and enjoy being fully in the moment has been refreshing. And not forgetting the opportunity to talk about this experience with a much more broad audience through the news coverage.
I love to hear your perspectives so do leave your thoughts in the comments below, and if you'd like to share with anyone, then feel free. I'd love to know if you're taking part in a digital detox, even if it's for a few hours or a day ~ message me through the contact page if you'd like me to share your experience here too.
I'm feeling grateful, well rested and excited for what the coming week will bring.
Until next Friday,