/ technology

How I'm Learning To Unplug

We live in a world inundated with technology. Everywhere you turn there's information flying at us at ludicrous speed. Everyone is connected on social media or some other medium, people are like zombies glancing at their phones while waiting in line for their venti mocha latte. Couples dine together at restaurants and instead of talking to each other they sit in silence staring at their phones, most likely laughing at some meme or a cute cat picture. Are you starting to see a trend here?

We're too fucking wired in!

As a species we were not designed for this. Go back to the 1900's or even earlier. Stress, disease, mental health problems were significantly less abundant than they are now 100 years later. Life was simple. You lived a good life, you worked hard to take care of yourself and/or your family, you learned what you could, and you took a moment to enjoy life. Even my parent's generation (circa 1930-1950) was much more sane than we are today.

Nowadays we are like Pavlov's dogs reacting to every single alert on our phone, computer, tablet, etc. The world as a whole is ADHD and 90% of us are on some form of psychotropic pharmaceutical to keep the monster at bay. Again, it wasn't like this 100 years ago. Technology, while being amazing and has done so much for humanity has definitely introduced a deficit in our ability to function, communicate, and be happy.

Recently I posted a few virals on LinkedIn about being in a slump with my programming work and just life in general. Countless friends and connections gave me suggestions which were all really good (save the one where they told me to switch careers). The redundant theme amongst the comments was that I needed to find a way to "unplug". Even my wife has been forcefully gently prodding me to put the computer down and enjoy a simple dinner or movie, technology-free. I found this to be extremely challenging to do as I am totally addicted to technology as many of us are.

Over the holidays it was a very stressful time and it took me a while to recover mentally, but I noticed that I felt better when I took an hour and put my phone and computer away and just relaxed. Sometimes I would read a book, write an article on something non-tech, or just play with my French Bulldog, Loki. There was something to this. And while I was extremely resistant at first, I realized that this was good for me.

So now I'm setting out on a quest to unplug as much as possible. Sure I will continue to work my normal hours and give 100% to my company, but once things are settled for the day I've been making it a practice to put my phone on Do Not Disturb, check my email one more time, then shut it all down for the evening. What happened?

Here are the results within a week's time

  • I was less depressed, and started to feel motivation again
  • My anxiety levels went from a fiery 8 to a mild 2-3
  • My stress levels were virtually non-existent
  • I was sleeping better (I used to sleep 4 hours a night, now a solid 6-7)
  • I started to really get closer to my wife and our relationship became strong as a result
  • I was more productive in my working hours
  • My overall mental and physical health improved

Now I'm not telling you that you need to turn your phone and/or computer off for a week or anything like that. You do you, I'm not responsible for you. But what I am saying that making sure to unplug frequently has done wonders for me, and I hope it will do the same for you.

Here's what my schedule looks like now:

07:00: Wake up and feed/walk the dog
07:30: Eat breakfast and do some exercise
08:00: Start working
12:00: Take a 1 hour lunch even if I don't eat (exercise, books, random relaxing activty)
13:00: Back to work, with a 5 minute break at the top of each hour as needed
17:00: Work ends, consult with my team, then start to shut down
17:30: Check email and communication once more, then put everything on DND
18:00: Dinner with the wife (she's a great cook)
19:00: Yoga, meditation, and a hot shower
19:45: Sit in bed and read a book, talk with the wife, play with the dog, watch documentaries
23:00: Turn the lights off and sleep like a baby

I went from an information/technology addict to a more relaxed guy in a matter of 1-2 weeks and I'm so grateful for all the feedback I've received from my network and family.

Wait... It's Saturday and the dog needs to go for a walk. I'm out :-)