The importance of unplugging

I’m wearing out the keyboard on my laptop, literally. It’s just over a year old and I’m missing the F7 key (really? F7) with many other’s ready to jump. Thing is, I have a Dell with a good keyboard. Point is, I’m on my laptop a lot. Like many my age, when I’m unwinding in front of the TV at night – I have my laptop.

With the amazing improvement of productivity and access to information comes an increased dependence on, or rather addiction to, consuming it. There’s also an increased ability to become a work a holic because you can be productive from wherever you are.

But now, I’m back in my hometown for my wife’s sister’s wedding. Access to the Internet is limited despite being just two hours to the Bay Area (my mom just got access to DSL 3 months ago) and 3G is sparse. So while I’m home I’m finding myself disconnecting, going outside, spending time without a screen in front of my face and I’m finding something interesting – perspective.

My generation, and most of the people in cities like Seattle who embrace technology to the fullest, get very caught up in the web and the information available “out there” and we lose sight (not site) of what’s important “right here.” Each morning we’ve been staying at my in laws who have a garden and I’ve gone out and eaten about a pound of berries for breakfast, I get to watch my son pick berries and strawberries enjoying each bite and getting red juice on his face (and clothes). We are creatures who are made to spend time out in the world, often with nothing to occupy our thoughts so we can let them wander, not just consumed in our own little worlds.

Getting a chance to unwind and dealing with getting over my withdrawals (from the reduction of information consumption) is helping me to spend some much needed time thinking about priorities, where I want to go, and who I want to be. It’s easy to choose a course, get on the road and never stop to check your direction because you’re too busy making good time but when you take a break to take stock of things it sure feels like a good investment.

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5 responses to “The importance of unplugging

    • That’s a great post, thanks for sharing. I actually think some of the interesting things that may happen, long term, are around advancements in mobile and currently unforeseen advances in UX will let people live out in the world rather than stuck inside. It doesn’t solve the addiction issue but it would let people go out and not have to rush back (to the office, couch, desk etc) to get things done.

  1. Now that b-school is done, I find myself spending more time unplugged… the initial trepidation of not catching every email within 15 minutes is going away since my inbox has slowed down substantially.

    Thanks for posting the article, Zach. Reminds me of when Sally Jewell (REI’s CEO) spoke with Net Impact earlier this year. She mentioned that kids are increasingly getting busier and busier, without any time for unstructured, unscheduled play, which led to REI’s “No Child Left Inside” program. I appreciate the article’s fairy tale ending. šŸ˜‰

    • I know what you mean, Debbie. It’s interesting the routines we get ourselves in, I don’t know if it’s Type-A or what but it seems we tend to want to fill up every moment with productivity. In my case, I find I’m most productive when I take a lot of breaks (ideally those that include mentally disconnecting)… I’m also more content.

  2. Paula McGowan

    Glad to see you are being reminded of, therefore not losing sight of, this invaluable aspect of living.

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