I’m definitely a gadget girl.
If I discover that I’ve accidentally left my phone in my purse or somewhere else in my house for an extended period of time (longer than 10 minutes), I experience a mini-panic that I must assume is total FOMO. I’m rarely far from two laptops and my iPad. And there’s the Instagram addict and slighly-obsessive blog-lurker that I’ve become. It’s kind of shameful, though I legitimize it with the fact that my 9-5 is online content development; being an early and voracious technology adopter is a necessary evil.
But, as I wrote in Blink and You Will Miss It, in the past few months, I’ve felt a significant pull—nay, a NEED—to dial down my digital consumption. A craving. A want of something tangible and real. Even though I’m an ardent lover of all things mobile and convenient, deep down, I’m an old-school, paper-loving girl at heart. I’ve used a paper planner for the last 20 years. I hand-write lists and check them off. I love to linger over a beautifully engraved invitation, or a thick, yummy piece of stationery when they arrive in my mailbox, which is an unfortunate rarity these days.
So in the last couple months, along with adding more touches of nature to my home, I’ve listened to that little voice inside saying, disconnect. And I have. And I’m thinking many of you have too, judging from the radio silence on many of your blogs. Of the dozens I follow, I can count at least 15 that have either shuttered their blogs, or haven’t posted content in many months…a strong indicator that blogging doesn’t have the same significance anymore, and it isn’t what it used to be. While I miss you there and here, maybe it’s not so bad that we’re all off doing…something else. Something in real life. Right?
If you’re having trouble balancing digital interaction with your real life commitments, here are a few tips to help you get out there and smell the roses. ‘Cause, no matter how great the Internet is, that’s one thing it can’t ever replace.
1. Take a walk outside with someone.
This is a personal favorite, and something my husband I always look forward to when the weather cools down. Walking outside reconnects you with nature, and when you walk outside, you have to watch where you’re going, so there’s no time to look at your phone. Also, the reason I wrote “walk outside with someone” and not “take a walk,” is because when walking on your own, you may be tempted to listen to music or occasionally check an app or make a phone call. Walking with someone usually includes conversation which keeps you engaged in the moment and off your phone.
2. Read a real book or magazine.
eBooks and digital magazine subscriptions have their benefits, but reading an actual paper book or magazine gives your eyes a break from those ever-present screens. You also can’t pop out of your reading and into your email or Facebook when you’re reading the real thing. I know eBooks are cheaper than printed books…but the library is FREE! It’s almost too good to be true, really. Take advantage.
3. Make prints of your digital photos.
How many thousands of photos do we all have buried deep in our computer and phone hard drives? Who actually goes back and scrolls through them, regularly? I bet not many of us. There are multiple ways to take digitally-captured memories and make them tangible, from online services like Shutterfly, to printing at your local Target or Costco, to the Fujifilm INSTAX Instant Smartphone Printer.
I know this one requires you to interact with your technology, but it’s for a good reason. The key is to get photos off your device and into your hands or onto your wall, where you can enjoy them and actually relive a special memory. Photographs are a powerful way for us to stay connected to a moment in time, and to other family members.
I want an Instax Share printer so I can start collecting printed-on-the-fly Instax photos. Like Polaroids, the paper strip makes it easy to write the date on the photo, a child’s age, a location, etc. I plan to keep prints in a box in my kitchen for my family and I to peruse and add to whenever we get together.
4. Use an app-blocking app.
If you have real difficulty not compulsively checking your social media accounts, try using an app that blocks you from using them, say during work hours or overnight (for middle-of-the-night-phone-checkers like me…so bad). Check out Mashable’s article, 6 Apps That Block Online Distractions So You Can Get Work Done, for recommendations.
5. Use a paper-based calendar or organizer. Ditto for to-do and shopping lists.
Using Google Calendar or Outlook might be convenient, but using them forces you to consult your phone or PC daily, probably multiple times a day. If you can’t avoid using Outlook for work, consider printing your calendar at the beginning of the week and referring to that instead. Or, get yourself a Filofax! I love using a paper planner because it allows me to see my schedule more clearly, and take notes more quickly. And I never have to worry about a low or dead battery. 😉
6. Send a party invitation or thank you via snail mail.
I know, I know: Evites and emailed thank yous are cheaper and faster. But seriously, aren’t we all so flattered and impressed when we get a legit, hand-written thank you in the mail? A mailed invitation or note is very deliberate, and it means so much more now since it takes a little more effort. Plus, finding stationery that reflects your personality is half the fun. I’ve always been a fan of Kate Spade’s cheeky cards and notes.
7. Use an alarm clock or leave your phone far from your bedside at night.
I’ll admit that this is one I find really hard to do, though it is so simple and effective. I really love having my phone instead of an alarm clock on my nightstand, but the truth is, we all sleep better without a phone nearby. It’s a 21st century malaise, that compulsive phone checking, and it’s wreaking havoc on our sleep. Don’t want the clutter of an alarm clock? Put your phone across the room on a dresser or a chair when you turn off the lights. Hopefully, you can still hear your alarm, but should you stir at 4:02am, you won’t be tempted to check Instagram if you have to get out of bed to do it.
What about you? Have you noticed how many bloggers aren’t…there? Do you need a digital disconnection?