Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
This weekend, I read a newspaper article about a Portland home decor company owner who created a safe room. Oh, not a room to hunker down in and wait out invaders. Well, not the kind of invader we tend to think of. Brian Faherty is hiding from the digital invasion.
The room, which is part of his office building, contains, among other items, a 1950s GE refrigerator; a wood stove as the only source of heat; and oak, which Faherty chops into firewood in the room, as he takes a break from technology.
While some might say the guy has gone to extremes, a statement he made in the article struck a nerve with me. “It’s [his smartphone] always calling me. ‘Hey, you haven’t looked at me for an hour. Three instagrams.’ Things that are insignificant are taking up valuable mind-share.”
We all struggle with how engaged to be with our phones, our computers, our iPads, and our streaming movies and TV programs. Days can pass with our barely glancing up from one screen or another. Yet, as is true for Faherty, the majority of your business and mine is conducted using technology; so we can’t just ban it from our lives.
Still, Faherty’s comment gave me pause. How much of my mind-share is taken up with triviality? Images of Facebook dance through my head, as I ponder that question. I love checking out my wall and reading about what friends, colleagues, and family are up to–from trivial details to the painful onslaught of life events.
Okay, I know, we’ve all been admonished to unplug, to take a technology sabbath, no matter how small. Nothing new there. But the newspaper article nudged me to decide that I stand in need of correction. So I’m going to add to my 2014 goals to set aside time during each intense workday to walk away from my computer and my phone.
The Faherty article stimulated one other, opposite thought. I paused to ask myself, Do I habitually take digital breaks and don’t even realize it?
One answer was staring me in the face: I was reading a newspaper. You know, a paper-and-ink newspaper. I read the paper every morning; it’s part of my morning ritual.
I also am low-tech when I’m reading my Bible and writing in my journal. My Zumba class and walking my dog get me out and about. I don’t allow myself to make phone calls while I’m walking, but instead I take in my surroundings. Our extended family gets together every Friday night for dinner, and phones are banned from the table. I don’t check emails on the weekends, and when our office closes for the last two weeks of each year, I unplug for most of that time. I love to cook, and while I hunt around for recipes online, I have favorite cookbooks that I turn to regularly.
As I recounted all the technology breaks I have built into my life, I realized I might be taking better care of myself than I initially thought. Still, Faherty asked himself a question that nudges me to better balance each workday with tiny digital sabbaticals: “If I spent a little time in that room, I wondered, what impact would it have on my daily life?” His answer was that the 2-3 hours he spends “safe” every 2-3 days, invigorates and refreshes him. Now he feels an urgency to peel away from computers and slip into a place where his mind is free to roam wherever it desires without some smart-alec device demanding attention.
Now it’s your turn:
How much of your mind-share is taken up with triviality?
In what ways have you built digital sabbaths into your routine? Do you feel the need to incorporate a mental “safe room” into your life (or maybe a physical safe haven in your home)?
Do digital devices usurp mind-share with triviality? Click to tweet.
Create a “safe room” from technology. Click to tweet.
Do you have enough digital-free space in your life? Click to tweet.