Being connected, getting information all the time, having constant distractions – it has all become a part of our daily lives. While computers and the internet can be a positive addition to our lives, it may be getting harder to disconnect and shut it off for a while. Taking steps to disconnect will get you one step further to living a simpler life.
So how do we go about disconnecting? There are varying strategies, and no one is better than another. I won’t be able to tell you what will work best for you — I suggest you experiment, and find a method that fits your needs and situation best. Often that will be a hybrid approach, which is perfectly great — every person is different, and no cookie-cutter approach will work for everyone.
1. Unplug ~ Just unplug your network connector or cable, or turn off your wireless router, or go to your connections settings and disable temporarily. Close your browser and open another program so you can focus on creating without distraction. Do this for as long as you can.
2. Have a disconnect time each day ~ It’s like setting office hours. You set the times that work best for you, and you can even let people know about these times. Let’s say you are disconnected from 8-10 a.m. each day, or 4-5 p.m., or even anytime after 2 p.m. Tell people your policy, so they know you won’t be available for email or IM.
3. Work somewhere without a connection ~ This might be the public library — while it has computers with Internet access, there’s no wireless in my library. Some coffeeshops don’t have wireless connection. Some of you might have to look for a good building that’s quiet but doesn’t have free wireless. Go to this disconnected zone ready to create, or perhaps just to relax and enjoy the quiet.
4. Get outside ~ Leave your devices behind and go for a walk, or a run, or a bike ride. Enjoy nature. Watch a sunset, go to the beach or a lake or river or forest. Take your child or spouse or friend. Recharge your batteries, reflect and contemplate.
5. Leave your mobile device behind, or shut it off ~ When you’re on the go, you don’t always need to be connected. Sure, the iPhone and Android and Blackberry are cool, but they make the problem worse than ever. If you’re driving, shut off your device. If you’re meeting with someone, turn off the device so you can focus on that person completely. If you’re out with your family or friends and not working … leave the device at home. You don’t need this personal time to be interrupted by work or your impulse to check on things.
6. Use blocking software ~ If you’re doing work on the computer, you can use various types of software to shut yourself off from the Internet, or at least from the most distracting portions of it. For example, you can use software to block your web email, Twitter, favorite news sites, favorite blogs, and so on — whatever your worst distractions are, you can block them selectively. Or block all Internet browsing.