Wonder whether unplugging, going digital-free on vacation, or even using a distraction blocker is a slippery slope? Let’s talk detox versus disconnect in the digital age.
Have you ever considered using a distraction blocker during digital work or play? What about turning off your phone for a full day, or leaving your computer behind while you go on vacation? If so, you’ve likely had a mini heart attack at the very prospect.
Society, as a whole, is conflicted on the nature of unplugging. Half of the world proclaims we’re being overrun by our technology and desperately need a break. The other half opines that digital is the way of the future. They say we’re better off entwining it into our lives intelligently than trying to downgrade its crucial role. Then the two halves switch, much confusion ensues, and nobody knows where they stand.
Against such a milieu of fence-sitting and turmoil, it’s easy to lose the right path. However, that doesn’t mean the question is any less critical. Especially during traditionally family-oriented times, such as evenings and weekends, or holidays, it’s important we take a moment and address these issues.
Specifically, what is a digital detox? Is it really necessary? If so, is it possible to undergo detox without suffering from disconnect? Last, what’s the best way to proceed with your family, your work and your life? We’ll address these questions and others here. Our goal is to help you make the most informed choices about your digital consumption going forward.
The Dangers of Disconnecting
First, let’s address the so-called dangers of disconnecting. To some, this is a ludicrous sentence. “We don’t need technology!” the Luddites cry. But to many students, professionals and entrepreneurs, this statement is downright laughable
Think about these scenarios:
- A student who can’t afford to miss out on emails from his project group, and needs to respond that evening
- A project manager who works on tight deadlines in conjunction with many other people
- A social media manager who needs to maintain a steady flow of content on a client’s behalf
- A social influencer whose income depends on a certain level of engagement from fans
- A service provider whose purpose is to help people in crisis, such as a doctor of a small clinic who takes all the nighttime calls, or an emergency tech repairman
These are just a few examples. But you can see how the argument might develop that, at least for certain people, it’s never safe to unplug. However, this is where we get into the importance of definitions.
Digital Detox Versus Disconnecting
There’s a big difference between detoxing and disconnecting.
Detoxing is getting something out of your system. Typically, that means an addictive substance of some sort. Tons of substances are helpful or fun in small doses and dangerous in large ones. Digital intake is no exception to this rule. When you use devices and internet to accomplish work goals or unwind a little, that’s smart and understandable. Using tech compulsively or at the expense of your real goals and duties in life? That starts to look a little more like an addiction.
Yet who hasn’t been drawn to the dark side of the internet or of apps? We visit websites that waste our time. We spend hours on social media feeds that draw us inexorably into the comparison trap. And some of us give into games and other distractions that don’t enhance our wellbeing, knowledge, family values or relationships.
This leads many people to the conclusion that disconnection is crucial, though terrifying. After all, disconnecting is nothing short of pulling the plug. Cue the horde waving paperback novels and beach totes, insisting that you should try again in March, thankyouverymuch…but right now it’s time to take a break! This mindset arrives in many forms. There are those who advocate a social media fast, where you don’t touch it for a week. Others won’t even pick up a phone when they travel on vacation.
Because the idea of detox leads sooner or later to this clownish image of disconnection, many people are afraid to take either step. The truth is, though, that detoxing – getting the knee-jerk addictive response to technology out of your system – will do a lot for your health and happiness.
Where to Begin Your Detox
Now’s where we get to the hard part, since so many people are leery of the idea of detox. Understandably so, since for most people who work or attend school, swearing off the digi-verse is flatly impossible. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to give yourself unfettered access to social media apps, news sites, games or even your email inbox. Depending on who you are and what you do, each one of these healthy-in-moderation apps can become destructive.
The first step is to identify where your struggle lies. A lot of people suffer most when studying. It requires discipline to immerse yourself in reading and note-taking without turning to the internet for an easy distraction. On the sliding scale of challenges, however, this one is toward the easy end. When you don’t need access to the internet, you can just turn your devices off, leave them in the other room or use a site blocker for studying.
However, then it’s time to write papers, or submit work electronically, or engage in a discussion room chat for your political science class. In that case, you have to log onto the web, and your time management challenges begin to mount. In this case, the customization powers of a website blocker really shine. You can use it to lock certain sites and apps, while allowing free access to others.
Next, whether or not you’re a student, this tip applies to you: Address your email habits. If you’re an entrepreneur or student working on a big project, you likely need unfettered access to your email. However, there are times that you don’t, such as when you’re on vacation and don’t have to log in, or in the evenings. Sometimes, if you’re trying to get deep work done in the office, it’s helpful to block access to your inbox as well to maximize your time management.
Pro Tip: Let everyone else know you’ll be unavailable on that channel for a few hours. Explain that they can email you and you’ll get back to it as soon as you can.
Other people find they most need to block apps when they’re at home having family time. The temptation to turn to a phone or tablet, even though the kiddos are finally home and dinner needs making, can still be strong. No one is saying you can’t control yourself otherwise. However, blocking apps can lead to a certain feeling of “ahhhh” that releases you from the need to exert all that energy-draining willpower.
And everyone needs to block certain apps at certain times of day … or at least stay away from them. Does it really help you to check Facebook or Instagram while you get work done? Must you really troll the news obsessively while you’re supposed to be having family time? Some sites and apps really don’t need to be engaged with for more than a few minutes a day. So, take a hard look at that for yourself.
When Other People Are Involved
Of course, your personal use is the easiest to moderate. When other people are involved, it becomes harder to determine the right course of action.
If you’re getting a website blocker for a child, the question becomes: What should I allow, and what should be off-limits? Should you discuss the choices with them, and create a schedule in tandem? Or should you make it for them, and lift restrictions on certain apps at certain times, or as a reward for certain behaviors? A lot of this depends on parental preference and the age of your child. Are you considering an app lock as a result of previous poor behavior? You might take a more authoritarian approach than if you’re simply installing it as a preemptive distraction blocker.
Other questions arise if you’re an entrepreneur who employs others. It’s one thing to install a time management app on your own devices, but it’s another to control your employees’ time. You might decide to install time management or productivity apps on company devices. If so, make sure you explain your reasoning to employees in full. Otherwise, you just look like Big Brother.
Get Some Help, Distraction Blocker Style
So do we think you can detox without running the dangers of total disconnect? Yes, yes, we do. And no matter what experience you’re looking for, be it a slower pace of life or a complete overhaul of your digital approach, we think you’ll find a distraction blocker can prove a handy tool in the kit. Maybe you just need a few less distractions while you do your deep work? Then a productivity app can help you screen out interruptions and schedule the breaks that keep you fueled.
Some people assume a distraction blocker will be nothing but a nuisance. They typically find that’s not the case once they try it. Instead, blocking specific apps or sites gives you the freedom to sit down at your computer knowing you won’t get distracted. Use the built-in break scheduler, and you’ll be prompted to tear yourself away from your device, even when you’re immersed and might ordinarily miss that break. The result? A more balanced use of your devices overall.
Distraction Blocker Pop Quiz:
Would a distraction blocker or time management app help you to update your digital approach and live a healthier lifestyle? If you said yes, gold star! Enhanced serenity and increased productivity are right around the corner. So, if you want to focus now, just get in touch with us or sign up here: I WANT FOCUS NOW!