I Unplugged!


Of all of the Challenge for Growth prompts I have participated in, I think that “I Unplug” has been the one that I needed the most. I have been aware for some time that it was important for me to make some big changes in regards to the amount of time I spend on the computer.

I have a Facebook page, but primarily have it so I can see my son’s photographs when he travels; I never use it to converse with or find friends or relatives. I don’t participate in Linked-In or Snapshot. I belong to Twitter but I never look at it. I occasionally look at Instagram. I do not play video games, and only shop online when I’m looking for something specific. I don’t surf the web.

Even though I don’t do those things, I still spend a high percentage of my time working on my laptop. I’ve been known to say “I live on my computer.” I read and write emails, write articles and organize a monthly GreenFriends newsletter, work on various projects for my spiritual community, and spend time reading and writing blog posts. I enjoy supporting new bloggers. Watching my blog stats feels like a game, but know I check them entirely too often. Since I’m on the computer so much, I’m continually distracted by email and blog notifications. Like Pavlov’s dog, I feel compelled to find out who just wrote me whenever I hear the notification sound.

When I returned from India in January, I took some steps to decrease my distractibility and my computer use; steps that would give me the time I needed to focus on other things. For example, I  occasionally turned off the sound on the computer so that I didn’t hear the notifications. I also created what I am calling a circuit, which are a list of activities I want to do nearly every day; e.g., walk, house cleaning, office work, yard work, etc. At first there were only 5 items on my list, so I went through the activities sequentially, spending 15-20 minutes on each one. I did some of the items more than once a day. The circuit increased my productivity and kept me focused. After two weeks, I added more items to the list, so now I don’t do them in any particular order and am not concerned if I don’t do a few of them. In addition to the circuit, I make a “to do” list that includes items that need to be done during the week.

My next step in this change process is to “unplug” for some time each day!

I decided to turn the computer off at 9 a.m. each day and leave it off until noon. That is a time period that am normally working on it.  During my unplugged time I will not answer or make unnecessary phone calls, with the exception of emergency calls and calls from potentiaI clients. Likewise, I will not use the phone for email, text, Instagram or to find something on the internet. I will also not turn on the television or the radio.

Below is a summary of my first four days of using this routine:

Day 1 Report: It’s amazing how much slower time seems to go and how much more I can get done when I’m not being distracted by emails and blog notifications. I am surprised to find that I am actually enjoying having the computer off. I feel better today than I have felt in a long time: more energy, and less body tension than when I sit most of the day. I was concerned that when I turned the computer back on I would be overwhelmed with the number of emails I found in my inbox. There were not nearly as many as I had expected, in part because I hadn’t been generating them. Much to my surprise, I discovered it was easier and faster to read and respond to the emails all at once, rather than answering them individually when they arrived.

Day 2 Report: My unplugged time is 9 a.m. to noon no matter where I am or what I am doing. I was at my Tai Chi class for the first half hour of today’s block; I was back home by 10:00. Around 11:30, I became very antsy. That last half hour seemed to last forever. I was eager to turn on the computer so I could finish my taxes, and I didn’t want to wait. I was far from patient, but I didn’t turn it on until the clock struck noon. During the afternoon, I finished my taxes and other computer work and completed most of the items on my circuit.

Day 3 Report: Not using the computer was easy today because I had an appointment and did errands during most of my unplugged time. I worked on almost everything on my “circuit” list today, plus finished many of my “to do” activities. Looking at the day as a whole, I see that I spent less time than normal on the computer.  I was surprised to discover I felt reluctant to even turn it on. I haven’t felt any desire to turn on the television either. Not using the phone during the unplugged time has been easy from the beginning. I’m liking this new way of doing things.

Day 4 Report: I was feeling energetic this morning, so during my unplugged time I took a walk through some wooded areas and streets that make a big circle around my part of town. I’ve been unable to walk the full circle during the past two years because of low energy caused by some medical issues. Some very interesting, and synchronistic, things happened along the way, which I will be writing about in a separate post. During the last half of the journey, I also picked up litter, an activity dear to my heart. While the walk normally takes 45 minutes, when I returned home, I was shocked to discover that I had been gone from 9:45 to 11:30! After lunch, I worked on almost all of the items on my circuit and to do lists and I rarely looked at the blog stats. I’m definitely seeing the value of unplugging. I ultimately may turn off the computer for more than the 3 hours/day I have committed to for now.

I am going to end my daily reports here so that I can post my response to the prompt. But I’m not ending my 9:00 to noon unplugging periods; I am really appreciating that change. A few days ago, Nichole from Nik’s Place told me  that she is looking at a situation in her life as an opportunity to reset, refocus and re-balance her life for the better.

That is true for me, too. I am working to “reset, refocus and re-balance my life for the better,” and reducing my time on the computer is an important part of that process.

Written for Challenges for Growth Prompt #7: I Unplug


21 thoughts on “I Unplugged!

  1. I’ve done this before too, and it is amazing how much gets done when we put away the electronics. I think my main thing would be to put my phone down. I have no difficulties walking away from my computer, but I tend to pick up the phone every hour or so to check messages. >_>

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is something I need to work on. Not that I am online all the time but having a scheduled time offline I think would help me… Similar to having a scheduled time to write every day gets more writing done! It’s on my to-do list to work on! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Way cool! Thanks for the inspiration. Another opportunity to look at my FOMS (Fear Of Missing Something) and how much there is for me to gain in unplugging. Especially the smartphone!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good for you on this challenge! Hurting my arm has sorted my dilemma here. I like your idea of making lists of activities …it creates more balance. I may try that…making lists of things I want to do more. Fortunately my working full time helps with the walking, and now I received my elliptical trainer so hopefully my son will put it together and that will be a daily routine too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really appreciate this post and it’s interesting to see the observations that flooded in from just a few hours unplugged. I noticed several years ago that my ability to focus has gone way down. I used to be able to sit and read for hours; now I find myself restless after an hour or less. I really believe my brain changed from sitting in front of a computer at work for most of the day, and immediately responding to emails as soon as I got a notification. Part of the reason was to keep up with the large volume of emails that would come in, because it was easy to have dozens of emails come within hours. Many of the emails were just the usual UW announcements I could toss after a quick glance, but it was still overwhelming and took diligence to keep my inbox manageable. More and more, however, I saw that I used email as a way to distract me from some unpleasant task that required focus and attention. I think this habit changed my ability/willingness to focus, even when I’m doing something I want to do.

    re. phones, I have had a very hard time standing within a few feet of another human being, in an elevator for example, with absolutely no acknowledgement because the other person was involved with his/her phone. It feels completely unnatural, against our very nature. At some point we’ll have a better idea of why we are mesmerized by our electronic equipment.

    There’s a fascinating documentary called Life 2.0 about developing a persona and relationships in a virtual world. You can watch it for free at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUwD7u7wwcY

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really appreciate that you tried unplugging, and that you had so any observations as a result. I have no doubt that our brains have changed due to the ongoing stimulation of the computer and other electronic devices. Or at the least we’ve developed some bad habits that decrease our ability to focus.

      I’ve noticed that I’ve less ability to multitask as I’ve gotten older. I think that is more an aging thing than something caused by electronics.

      I look forward to looking at the documentary. I’m glad you put it on the blog so that others can see it as well.

      Today is my 8th day of unplugging 9 to noon. I think it is really good for to me to continue doing that.


  6. This is a great post, Karuna! I like how you set up your circuit and committed to certain disconnects during certain periods. I am terrible at not always being accessible… to everyone. And there’s so much I want (and feel I need) to accomplish in a day (which has the nerve to only over 24 hours… geez!), that I’m always going… sometimes in circles it seems. The sacrifices… peace… health… time for self… real order (as opposed to navigating chaos). Having to deal with these health issues for myself forced me to disconnect, entirely at times. I simply couldn’t do anymore than lay in bed… not even sit up for a posting or keep my eyes open for a TV show… nothing. Then, of course, as soon as I started feeling a little better… there I go, ripping and running. My body said, no! So, finally, I go back to work… it’s KILLER because I’ve missed a couple weeks leading up to some huge events I’m in charge of. I’m coming in early, working late, hardly eating (mainly due to the new fungus diet I’m restricted to), and operating this way at half mass. God’s a funny fella. Next thing I know, my son comes home with the flu, bronchitis, asthma complications and a lung infection. It took the course of three days to figure all of this out (don’t get me started on HMO’s!!!). In any case, I HAD to once again disconnect from the demands of work and feeling like life will not go on without me directing the show. Yes, I still pulled everything off with flying colors, and it did take it’s toll. However, I gained some liberation and I was also “thanked” with a giant bouquet of roses from the City Manager and Council (I never get flowers so that was pretty cool.) Point is, I learned that all will still be as well as it can be with the world if I’m not there to fix, answer, evaluate, calm, nurture, coddle, lead… you get the picture. And this goes for not only work, but friends, family, church, and the occasional stalker I pick up along the way. Lol I’m still not as disciplined as you are, but I’m working on it… reset, refocus, re-balance. It’s time to turn the leaf! 🙂 (And I don’t expect to see any type of reply until after noon!!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You and I have such similar issues. My life has revolved around over doing until I get to sick to do it. I learn my lesson for awhile and then start the cycle all over. As I grow older multi-tasking is harder to do. I’m now dealing with back and eye problems in addition to other things, and I still find myself resisting slowing down..

      I’m still unplugging between 9 and noon but I’m thinking that the circuit may even be more valuable. I can’t be spending as much time on the computer if I’m doing the circuit.

      Liked by 1 person

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