At the end of 2021, I took nearly a week off from being online.
I was on holiday with my family and I chose to spend the time as if it were 1981 instead of 2021.
I only used my computer/phone to look for directions and hours of places we were visiting.
It was an interesting experience.
Now, in fairness, I’m a digital deviant year round, not just on holiday. Ha!
I avoid notifications on my phone unless it’s personal email or messages from my kids.
I don’t have social apps on my phone. I batch and schedule my posts, not so I can make them perfect (whatever “perfect” means) but because I simply enjoy this approach.
But that time in December of living even more “off the grid” (ha!) caused me to realize how much of an average day is spent in “scanning mode.”
What are people up to?
What is the answer to my question?
Does anyone need me?
Progressively taking less time online during 2021 taught me a few things that will likely shape 2022 and beyond.
Here are my lessons. Feel free to use them to inspire your own experimentation!
First, I realized how much of our average day is looking up stuff online.
While “off grid,” it was fun to return to the space of not knowing everything. I realized that my life isn’t any better if I find the answer to that odd trivia thing. Do I really need to know the number of calories in an average avocado or Keanu Reeves’ birthday? Nope. No, I do not. In most cases, I can do well without knowing and keep those extra seconds and minutes, to boot!
The lesson I learned from not looking up trivia all day long is that trivia means…trivial. You get to decide what’s right for you, but I’ve decided to allow for more mystery.
Second, I learned that when I wasn’t spending time thinking and wondering trivial-ly, I was able to think more deeply and more connected to my core desires. It reminded me of the book “Deep Work” and the TEDx talk by the author, Cal Newport.
Meaningful work takes time and focus. Creativity requires space. It’s so easy to be distracted and the distractions are so tempting. But are the information appetizers of life taking away from what you want to create?
Finally, going back online was a TRIP! I could feel my dopamine going crazy. I scrolled for a few minutes, maybe 5-10, and nearly felt dizzy after a while. The ads – so many ads! Can you imagine going to a piano concert and having every 12th note be an interruption by an ad from a sponsor?
It drove me bonkers, honestly, being back in the digital world, particularly some flavors of social media.
It caused me to reflect on my role not only as the consumer of digital information but also as a contributor.
I love the articles, videos, and podcasts that I create to help you, my reader, learn creative, non-traditional ways to manage your stress and make amazing decisions for yourself.
Life is simply a series of thousands and thousands of choices that aggregate over time to form habits and outcomes.
Another byproduct of this time away is that I’m feeling more thoughtful and intentional about the companies that carry my content and the experience of my audience.
And, of course, this experiment caused me to reflect deeply on how life was before the first smartphones came out into the world. For me, I think there were a lot of things that I would label as better before social media. I remember spending more time “here” than wondering if things were better “there.”
No matter your choice of how you spend your time, virtually or otherwise, my hope for each of us is that there is an awareness of our choices, whether trivial or significant.
We get the minutes we get.
We choose how to spend those minutes.
And, once spent, they are non-renewable.
I’ll be spending more time living the 80s life here in 2022…
P.S. Please click here to sign up for my free mini-class “3 Ways to Reduce Stress TODAY!”