Social media has been all the rage over the past ten years – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat have become the way people communicate today. Forget bullying, it’s all cyberbullying these days with “cool” kids having their little groups where they interact and share information. Don’t make the cut, you’re not in. Piss someone off, you’re out.
But it’s not just kids that are glued to social media which is why I decided to have a mini digital detox of sorts over the past two weeks. I limited my interaction to only messages send directly to me. It taught me three things:
1. The world will not end
2. I was surprised how much more time I had
3. Quiet time can be more stimulating
I once read that as Bill Gates built Microsoft each year he would take two weeks off to think and strategize. From talking to clients and listening to stories of people in all walks of life, it has become clear that very few of us today really think. In fact, just the opposite because of the demands that are put on us by companies and family that we spend most of our time reacting to things around us. It’s like we’re automatic pilot.
Let me tell you a short story.
Back in college, I remember I had a paper due on Monday evening. Like many college students I had mastered the art of procrastination, so there I was on Sunday evening getting ready to whip out a four-page report on an essay our professor had given us. I was relatively smart, so I figured a few hours would be plenty of time to get it done.
At 7pm, I sat down to read the essay, which took me about 30 minutes. So far so good. Unfortunately, by 11:30pm I had written a grand total of one sentence. I had read and reread the essay over and over trying to figure out just what the author was trying to say and I had nothing. I understood it, but I didn’t get it.
I sat there in the room alone, going over it again and again. Nothing. I even started sweating. I was racking my brains on what I should write. I kept thinking and thinking and then suddenly around 1am, it dawned on me. By 4am the report was done and I went to bed exhausted but satisfied.
In case you’re wondering, I got an A.
I share this with you to illustrate that most of us have lost the ability (and time) to really think. When we’re challenged to use the gray matter we struggle, but that’s precisely why we need to devote more time to doing it.
In the office and at home today, we’re constantly bombarded with information from bosses, coworkers, clients, wives, husbands, children and friends. The demands are incredible especially when you throw social media into the mix.
What time most people have is for relaxation whether that’s watching a show on Netflix, playing Fortnite, flicking through videos on YouTube or listening to their favorite jams. Thinking doesn’t even enter the equation for most people, and yet, it’s one of the most important things we can do.
Personally, I have started scheduling time into my week to think. Right there on my calendar, each morning from 8:00-8:30 is thinking time. But when I added in this digital detox, it took things to a whole new level.
Over the holidays, I took my family to the nearest mountain for a New Year’s hike. We took a mini-trip to hot spring we’d never been before, and enjoyed some good food. We caught up on some movies we’d wanted to watch. We slept in a little longer than usual. I reread some of my favorite books.
The result, it allowed me to clear my mind of all the clutter and noise.
We often think that more is better. But this break has taught me just the opposite, sometimes we need less to be able to make sense of it all.
I feel refreshed. My mind is buzzing with ideas.
I’m telling you, when it comes to productivity, if you haven’t tried a digital detox, you don’t know what you’re missing.