Thousands of years ago, our ancestors learned to build fires and create hunting implements — you know, survive. We’ve come a long way from those ancient days. Of course, now cooking is as simple as turning on a stove, and shopping at the local grocery store has replaced hunting and gathering. The struggle Neanderthals experienced was a struggle of physical survival and safety. The idea of a digital detox wouldn’t be invented for thousands of years.
Fast forward to today. We aren’t engaged in the same physical survival struggles that our ancient ancestors were.
Instead, because of our busy lives as business owners and entrepreneurs, we’re engaged in a much more nuanced struggle for psychological time, attention and space. From emails to sales calls, Twitter advertising to curating your Facebook page, there’s more need for a digital detox than ever before.
Why a digital detox matters
For many years as the internet grew in influence, we let the efficiency and barrage of information it offers augment or even take over parts of our lives to the point that some of us derive more comfort from our screens than human interactions. Now there’s a growing trend to take back our lives, and grow the space between the digital and physical worlds once again. Ironically, that trend points towards those things which our ancestors once struggled with — like building fires, survival skills, etc.
A digital detox is a period of time during which a person interacts with their world without the assistance of smartphones, computers, or televisions.
Most of us know, at least in the back of our minds, that we have a problem being too connected — but finding a way to work in non-screen time might seem boring. It’s probably because mobile phones and other devices are designed to be addictive. That’s why guided digital detox experiences are popping up all over the place.
How to do a digital detox
To help you find your way to occasional digital freedom, I’ve compiled a small list of great places to find short and longer digital detox experiences near and far:
Go for a nature walk (or hike)
Grab a cup of coffee with a friend
When was the last time you spent time at a coffee shop with a friend catching up over a cup of coffee? All too often my laptop gets way more attention when I’m sitting at a cafe. A great place to find a new coffee joint is Thrillist or Eater (search for your city).
Use an app to explore your city
While not a perfect digital detox, using an app to encourage some steps in the city is better than nothing.
Go on an adventure trip
There are epic adventures that are fully planned by travel companies for the purpose of putting some space between the digital world and real life. From festivals, to adventure trips, to trips just for geeks, the internet has a way of delivering digital detox excursions for every interest.
No apologies needed
So, get ready. Set that out of office reply unapologetically or put your employees in charge of the business for a few days. Make no excuses for building space for creativity and contemplation in your life. Remember to pull the plug when you head out, and let the real world take over. You’ll be happy you did.
Also published on Medium.