The Ericksons

Unplug! Take Back Your Time


Unplug from technology

How would you like to have more time, less stress and feel more at ease every day? Today I am going to look at one way to approach technology that could revolutionize your life. We are going to look at what it would mean to unplug from the constant connection that today’s ever-present technology represents. Don’t worry. You won’t have to hide in a cabin in the woods (although that can be fun). I will give you some simple tips to help you unplug in moderation—just enough to change your life.

Email

“On average, office workers receive at least 200 messages a day and spend about two-and-a-half hours reading and replying to emails.”[1]

As someone who has battled her inbox and found some success, I have a couple of tips for this time-sucker. Schedule 2 times each day to check your email and limit those times to 15 minutes. You can do it! Here’s how:

  • Don’t answer emails that don’t require a response. It’s not rude. It saves both you and the other person time.
  • Don’t send emails unless they are necessary. The fewer emails you send, the fewer you will get.
  • By limiting your “inbox appointments” to 15 minutes, you will feel a sense of urgency and will avoid the time traps such as junk mail and cat videos.
  • Unsubscribe from any newsletter that you don’t love and read.

Television

The average adult in the US spends 5 hours each day watching TV.[2] The only way to bring that number down is to unplug. You don’t have to literally unplug your television set (though some people do). But, putting your remote controls out of reach can be a step in the right direction. Often Television use is a habit, and like all habits, it can be hard to break. Once you make the decision to reduce your TV time, make a plan. Ask yourself:

  • What time of day do I most benefit from watching a show/movie/news?
  • If I had to choose, what would be my top 3 things to watch?

Your answers to these questions can help you decide what your viewing priorities are. Now you can put together a plan. Consider recording your programs using a DVR or similar system. Allot one hour daily to watching the program you value most. It seems extreme, but if you are anything like the average American, you will be saving yourself 4 hours a day. You can use this time to do all of the things you never feel you have enough time to do.

Cell Phones

Cell phones are a blessing and a curse.

Recently, researchers studied the relationship between digital media use and symptoms of ADHD among in adolescents. They followed up with participants over the course of 2 years and found there was a statistically significant but modest association between higher frequency usage of digital media and subsequent symptoms of ADHD. Further research is needed to determine whether this association is causal.[3]

Cell phone use can also be dangerous. Despite widespread awareness that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous, people still take the risk. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 there were 3,477 people killed and approximately 391,000 additional people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. It’s not that surprising when you consider that 660,000 American drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving during daylight hours.[4]

How to Find Time to Write

Technology and Relationships

What about the effect that technology as common as cell phones can have on your relationships? Most people admit that cell phones and other “screen-time” technology can have a negative impact on their interactions with family and friends. So, it’s no surprise that a recent study[5] of 143 married/cohabitating couples perceived these technologies to be detrimental to their relationships. Not only that, but people often depressed because of their partner’s technology use. The phone calls that interrupt mealtimes, leisure times, etc. communicate “you aren’t as important as this call.”

So, what do we do about this?

Obviously, technology is here to stay. Although there are some amazing people (like Cal Newport, who has never used social media and rarely uses email) can thrive without these trappings, most of us feel technology is a requirement for professional and personal communication.

You can and should create technology-free zones. These zones could be physical, such as keeping technology out of your bedroom, which will help your sleep hygiene and your sex life. It could also mean cordoning off periods of time when you won’t use technology. This could mean the 2 hours prior to bedtime and another two hours in the afternoon (whenever you feel like a technology break is going to be helpful). The people around you will learn to respect these times and your loved ones will appreciate them.

What will you do with your time?

There’s no reason to throw out all electronics, but it is important to recognize their effect on your life and put them in the proper context. The best thing you can do is to set aside some time each day to unplug. Use this time to nurture your relationships and yourself.  You will be surprised at the time you discover. It’s up to you how you will spend it. By using this time to do something you enjoy, you will embrace this break from technology.

Here is a fantastic infographic from Duck Bay Lodge with ways to unplug and go outdoors:

Ways To Unplug And Go Outdoors from Duck Bay Lodge

 

Unplug in a Radical Way!

If you want to get really radical, I have written a great series on doing a digital detox. This past January, I went an entire month (mostly) without technology. It was awesome. I learned some surprising things about myself. I feel like it’s time to unplug again.

What Are YOUR Thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather EricksonThe Ericksons

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace. My books are available at Amazon.com:

The Memory Maker’s Journal 

Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer

Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer

I also blog about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.

Footnotes:

[1] , Annabel. “How To Stop Wasting 2.5 Hours On Email Every Day.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 July 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/annabelacton/2017/07/13/innovators-challenge-how-to-stop-wasting-time-on-emails/#4a66a00c9788.

[2] “The Total Audience Report: Q1 2016.” Edited by Glenn Enoch, What People Watch, Listen To and Buy, Nielsen, 27 June 2016, www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/reports/2016/the-total-audience-report-q1-2016.html.

[3] Ra, Chaelin K., et al. “Association of Digital Media Use With Subsequent Symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Among Adolescents.” Jama, vol. 320, no. 3, 2018, p. 255., doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8931.

[4] “NHTSA Administrator .” NHSTA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving.

[5] McDaniel, B. T., & Coyne, S. M. (2016). “Technoference”: The interference of technology in couple relationships and implications for women’s personal and relational well-being. Psychology of Popular Media Culture, 5(1), 85-98.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000065

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4 comments on “Unplug! Take Back Your Time

I love how my iPhone now tells me how much time I spend weekly using it. At the same time, it pushes more and more of my life onto the phone–banking, home security, weather. My son told me the new Teslas are driven from an app.

Using phones less is a losing battle… Sigh.

Hi Jacqui. I am always amazed at the power we hold in our hands–literally. I’m sure you’ve heard that our cell phones have significantly more power than the giant computer that NASA used to send the space shuttle to the moon. It just blows my mind. Have a wonderful week!

Funny, today my blog post is about a class that was required to give up their cell phones for a week. They were not happy about it.

Hi Liz. We wait to give our kids their phones until they start college. That might be why they all start at 16. They love their phones for about a month and then stop checking them (always when we are trying to reach them. Maybe if they had smartphones they would find them more interesting. Our 16 year old just got her first bill. 18 minutes of talk, 1564 texts. Hmmm. Have a great week!

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