Is it time for digital downtime?

You are at home, it’s the weekend, yet you are distracted. You want to focus on family and an email arrives that you feel you ought to deal with?

What would happen if you didn’t respond now? Would you be willing to let it wait until a designated time? Would you be OK with turning your phone to silent? Do you set aside weekend time or are you constantly available via the smartphone?

Frazzled? Is it time for some digital downtime?

Is it time for digital downtime?

We need digital downtime. Wherever you work, you need rest. Stress drains us, as you know, and is a contributing factor in poor sleep and ill health. Feeling frazzled is all too common in today’s world.

How can you simplify your life so that you can actually give yourself permission to take time off? Do you need to get rid of some things that cost you time, money or peace? Spring is a great time to evaluate what you do.

Recently, when I’ve sent an invitation via email or text, I’ve heard nothing for a week or so. Then, when I follow up, I receive a reply: “I did see it but I was busy and then forgot to reply.”

Simplify your life, de-clutter, budget and reset with these simple tricks.

Can you relate to that? You are industriously doing something and “ping” an email or text comes in, you hurriedly check it and say to yourself: “I’ll do it later.”

When is later? I check my emails twice a day, in the morning and then again late afternoon. When I am working on something important, sounds and notifications on my phone are off; a tactical move.

Is it time for digital downtime?

I say this not to appear virtuous, or a luddite, more to share that I choose to have peace and quiet at set times throughout my day. As a result I am more efficient as I am not constantly thinking in two directions at once.

In 2014 I did the 99 Days of Freedom experiment, which was 99 days away from Facebook. After a few days I did not miss Facebook and I had so much more time in my life!

Being disciplined about, and setting boundaries for, your online time (including email and social media) ensures you use the Internet wisely rather than letting it use you, interrupting your day, maybe leading to that frazzled feeling.

When I download an app, I turn all the notifications off. If emails come in that no longer interest me: “Unsubscribe!” At the end of the day I put all my emails into an “archive 2016 folder.” I am not afraid of deleting emails.

Maybe you have de-cluttered parts of your life, what about doing a digital de-clutter?

I enjoy a walk to town without the constant pings of new messages or updates. On the bus I enjoy looking out the window. I enjoy my downtime within a day full of appointments.

We need these snippets of time to look around, rest and not be walking head down texting — think of your savings on physiotherapy bills!

When taking photos I delete the bad ones immediately. I literally keep one good photo. Deleting digital clutter is liberating too.

Time without the phone feels like moving meditation. I enjoy fully focussing on walking, cooking, cleaning or ironing, and it feels like I achieve more with fewer mistakes.

France has been talking, since 2014, about a law stipulating that companies of more than 50 employees have to draft a charter of good conduct allowing employees digital downtime. Time where they do not have to be constantly connected to a telephone or computer out of working hours.

Whether or not, in our 24-hour world, this will work I do not know. Yet the fact digital downtime is being discussed is good. Perhaps you are not alone in feeling distracted, pulled between real life and messages, emails and updates?

Downtime is often when creativity flows. If you are constantly distracted when do you have time to stop and breathe, create, notice and wait?

My 15-month-old niece is curious. She wanders around the garden, bending down to eat grass, play with daisies, pick dandelions and pick up twigs.

She recently stopped to look at a rose bush that had a bee buzzing around. She saw the bee, it flew off to a flower out of sight, yet she waited. Twenty seconds later the bee emerged, and was buzzing into a flower much nearer her. Her patience and waiting revealed the bee, and she watched with interest.

Do you stop and wait? Do you just notice life around you? Would you have stopped and waited for the bee to return?

If you are feeling frazzled might some child-like curiosity, or digital downtime be “just what the doctor ordered?”

Laughing is good for you!

From The Ladybird Book Of Mindfulness:  “Alison has been staring at the beautiful tree for five hours. She was meant to be in the office. Tomorrow she will be fired. In this way, mindfulness will have solved her work-related stress.”

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Further reading:

How to declutter your inbox

Take time in silence to rejuvenate yourself