How Do You Know When It’s Time for a Digital Detox?
Sometime last November, I decided to pull back from my business commitments and pull the plug on the internet in order to invest more focused time, attention and energy into my family and myself.
It wasn’t easy at first, but I can say now that it’s over, a six-month digital detox was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for myself, my family, and my business! If you’re juggling a lot of different responsibilities in life and wondering how to keep up with it all, this article is for you.
When the pressure builds on all sides, something has to give. If you don’t want it to be your health, the well-being of your family members, then you may want to learn how to slay (or significantly limit) your family’s access to time-sucking, attention-splattering, mind-numbing distractions on the Internet!
“How Do You Balance All the Different Things In Life?”
Being a single, self-employed mother of two for so many years felt a lot like being chased by tigers. Tigers that never sleep, never stop being hungry, never stop running and never go away. The need to make ends meet, the fear of being alone, or of doing something wrong that “screws up your kids” when you don’t have someone else by your side, can put a girl in a pretty intense state of “survival mode.”
While a certain amount of adrenalin can help get things done, start an online business, and even build a community of 130,000 amazing women around the world, when it becomes your standard operating procedure, it’s completely unsustainable, and eventually something is going to have to give.
For ten years I burned candles at both ends trying to handle all the things on my plate. In that time, so many people asked me, “How do you get it all done? How do you juggle kids, family, business, personal health, and still have energy for yourself?”
My response before last November was often, “When you have to do something, you find a way to do it.”
I liked that answer, and it was true, to a certain degree.
But I can only tell you now that I have come to the other side of a six-month digital detox, that while I looked like I was getting it all done, and sounded like I was getting it all done, and even believed that I was getting it all done, there was one significant thing that had consistently been left off all my “to do” lists…
The Myth of Multitasking
Truth is relative to point of view. It’s hard to know what you don’t know, if you don’t know it. 🙂Click to tweet
Ten years of being chased by proverbial tigers had clouded my perception and compromised my ability to see some things in my life clearly. I lived so long chained to my computer “multi-tasking” my online business, parenting, personal health, and other relationships, that what I had come to feel was “normal” was actually unhealthy, unnecessary and surprisingly unproductive.
Having lived so long in a chronic state of survival, when I stopped and looked at my life last November, I was shocked to discover that even though it had been at least four years since there were any threats of not making ends meet, being alone, or “screwing up my kids” I was still running from tigers!
Nothing looked “wrong” on the outside of my life. But inside, there was a persistent and undeniable tug on my personal integrity strings that I couldn’t ignore. As “good” as my life was, I knew I could make it significantly better by improving my boundaries and making more time for rest. Until I did something about that, I lived with the sting of knowing that I was preaching from the women’s health pulpit, but not honestly applying it myself.
So I decided to get honest and straight with myself and do something about it.
How to Improve Time Management With More Sleep
My diet had always been excellent relative to most. If anything, I erred on too pure, too restrictive, too anal-retentive and nutritionally self-righteous. I don’t drink alcohol more than once or twice a year and never go out for dinner, so radical nutritional reform wasn’t going to make a major difference to my life.
My version of compromised self-care didn’t look like donuts and all night movie marathons. It looked more like endless production, sleepless nights, and chronic self-sacrifice. Over ten years as a self-employed, online entrepreneur raising two rule-bending rebel children, I averaged 3-5 hours of sleep a night. Maybe less, if I’m completely honest about it.
Self-sacrifice can be noble and inspiring under life-threatening conditions, but as an on-going practice over ten years, it’s dysfunctional. By failing to create healthy boundaries that allowed for 7-8 hours of nightly sleep, I had created a slow leak in my personal integrity boat, and it was time to seal the leaks or sink!
So I took a good, long look at the honest needs of my family, business, and (for the first time) myself. The tigers were gone and it was time to interrupt old patterns of surviving and try thriving for a while. It was time to upgrade the quality of attention, communication and effective control we were willing to expect of ourselves and each other in the family.
But there are only 24 hours in a day.
To pull this off honestly, I was going to have to either significantly improve my ability to handle and control the responsibilities I had in less time, or reduce the number of commitments on my plate. Since I wasn’t really wasting time, or getting distracted easily, I knew that something was going to have to go.
How To Get Even With The Internet
As I looked around at my family at how we interacted with one another, managed our time and attention, I assessed the various levels of production, honesty, and contribution coming from the different members of our family.
And that’s when I became aware of an alarming fact that changed everything for me:
While I had been busily “multi-tasking” throughout much of the last ten years, an insidious invader had maneuvered its way into our lives and was sucking time, attention and energy from all of us!!
The internet was holding the attention of our children hostage and keeping it on mind-numbing, intelligence-lowering drivel.Click to tweet
The internet was keeping people up late at night, overstimulated by an incessant visual and musical bombardment of the senses.
The internet was causing people to become more easily distracted, less productive, and less motivated to contribute and participate in everyday life.
I was spending an enormous amount of time trying to hustle to get things done, boost people’s confidence with pep talks, inspire productivity with point systems and give regular doses of love and attention to the members of my family. But when my back was turned, or I was busy “multi-tasking” trying to get it all done, the Internet seducing my kids with another quick fix electronic stimulation, sucking the motivation, productivity and focus right out of them!
Even though we brought it into our home, my constant state of “multi-tasking” and trying to get it “all” done, meant that the “Internet” managed to carry out a slow, silent, and definitely hostile takeover of the attention, productivity and morale of my family.
And if I was committed to restructuring my life to find an extra 4 to 5 hours a day for sleep, then I was going to have to get even with the Internet and put our family on a digital detox!
How to Get Your Kids to Do Anything
It’s pretty hard to impose rules or promote values that you’re not willing to uphold yourself. I knew my “multi-tasking” days were about to come to a screeching halt because the only way this digital detox was going to be successful was if I got on board and played along, too.
That meant no more late nights of production or “multi-tasking.” It meant tight boundaries, strict discipline and a whole new level of honesty with myself, my relationships and commitments in life. It meant being fully present to my kids when I was with them, and fully present to my work when I was doing that.
I was going to have to turn off the internet, learn how to say “no” to a lot more things, and finally commit to doing the one thing I’d been neglecting and evading for the last ten years. I was going to have to get some sleep!
So in November last year, our family began a digital detox. The results have been VERY interesting, and we’ve learned so much about how to handle and improve situations with each other. We’ve radically reduced the number of emotional interactions and have a far more productive and focused approach to how we live. There’s way more team work, and way less tears being spilled because people are overwhelmed, under slept or just not being productive.
And the big news is that for the first time in ten years (but probably closer to 20, given that Mika is now almost 17!!) I am sleeping 7-8 hours a night, almost every night and I really do feel like I’m in the best health of my life!
It wasn’t rocket science. In fact, it had a lot more to do with just having the courage to get honest with myself and get some boundaries. I knew I wasn’t sleeping, and even though I could pull it off on the surface, I couldn’t keep hiding it from myself.
This digital detox has made for some profoundly empowering shifts in my ability to handle situations with competence, clarity and speed. I totally up-levelled my productivity by adding 4-5 hours of sleep!
But there’s no way we could have done it if we hadn’t spotted how much the internet was actually sucking from our ability to communicate with one another, maintain our focus on the tasks at hand, and feel present, engaged and productive in life.
Next week I’ll share some of the best things I learned on my six-month digital detox and more of the specifics of what we did in case you’d like to try it out for yourself or with your family.
If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them in the coming blogs. Our family has learned a LOT these past few months and if there’s anything our adventures can do to help you find your way in that crazy haze of making it all work, please do leave a comment and let me know.
I’ll be sure to take your questions and concerns into consideration in the coming blogs and podcasts to make them as valuable as I can. Thanks so much for being here on the other side of my hibernation with me. 🙂
Love and wifi-free wishes for a great week,
One of the things that I’m doing as part of my return from hibernation, is some “spring cleaning” of our programs. There have been so many amazing courses throughout the years, and I’ll be releasing many of them as free programs for our community before we bump up the prices as part of our product and service offering.
Our first project was a clean up and redo of all our dental health content. We’ve made much more accessible for the already overwhelmed health-seeker. We laser in on the most important things you need to know. Having realized how very difficult it is to juggle it all, I want to make sure our programs are designed and offered in ways that give even the busiest go-getter the chance to get it all done and fit it all in!
If you are struggling with your dental health, or looking for a powerful program to improve your long term health and well-being, this FREE course on How to Stop Tooth Decay & Gum Disease Fast will really help. FREE registration closes this weekend, so jump on board now before the cost goes up!