Technology Detox

"For my part, I could easily do without the post-office. I think that there are very few important communications made through it. To speak critically, I never received more than one or two letters in my life … that were worth the postage."  

"Walden," Henry David Thoreau

Thus wrote Thoreau in his account of the two years he spent living by Walden Pond between 1845 and 1847.

What, you might wonder, would he make of today's plethora of communication channels? (Only) forty years ago you might return from holiday to find just a few letters had been put through the post box but there was no answerphone with messages or computer with emails which had to be answered.

These days the stress of dealing with the communications that have arrived in your absence can easily wipe out the benefits of the holiday within a very short space of time.

Many people never actually go on holiday in the true sense of the word for the Tablet, Smartphone or laptop - or all of the above - go with them. There is nothing to which to return because nobody has actually been away and the constant attention to what is on the screen takes us away from what is going on within us.

Life Planning aims to restore that balance so that we are in touch with our feelings and can more easily decide what we really want to do rather than acting in accordance with one of the many "shoulds" in our head.

One part of that process might be a "Techno-Detox" preferably on a regular basis.

If you are up for it then we recommend setting aside one day each week when you decide to turn off all the technology.

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Scary? You bet! Off goes the mobile (cell) phone, the desktop, the laptop, the Tablet and the iPad.

When you reach the end of the working week on a Friday afternoon, then turn off all devices at the and switch them back on 24 hours later although you might even leave it until Sunday morning if you think there could be a particularly contentious matter which you don't want disturbing your Saturday night's social activity or sleep.

Alternatively, if you want to use your devices on Friday evening then leave them off for the whole of Saturday. You will still have everything available for the second half of the weekend. Or use them on Saturday and turn off on Sunday - it isn't critical which day you choose but sticking to the one day in seven is a good idea. And if you work at weekends but are off during the week then you can adapt accordingly.

If 24 hours is too much then take it in easy stages.

Maybe start by closing down all of Friday evening and switching back on after breakfast on Saturday. Then stretch it until lunch time; then until afternoon tea and finally the full 24 hours.

You don't run a full marathon at the first training session…….

If you are making arrangements for Saturday and need to be in contact with other people you can let them know that you are only responding to phone messages (almost like in the old days when phones were just phones) so that you don't see who has been texting or emailing you.

And if you just want to be in contact with a specific person by phone then it might be a good idea to switch off the notifications on your devices and allocate a specific ring tone to the person who is going to call.

Seeing who has called, even if you didn't answer, can sometimes be just as stressful as actually taking the call.

Technology has provided us with incredible advancements in the last fifty years - the Internet which allows you to access this web site anywhere in the world is a good example - but in many cases it has been allowed to encroached into our lives to an excessive degree.

At the end of Walden, Thoreau tells the story "of a strong and beautiful bug which came out of the dry leaf of an old table of apple-tree wood……..from an egg deposited in the living tree many years earlier still….which was heard gnawing out for several weeks, hatched perchance by the heat of an urn."

"Who knows what beautiful and winged life, whose egg has been buried for ages….in the dead dry life of society……may unexpectedly come forth… enjoy its perfect summer life at last."

Detaching from technology for a day a week not makes for an island of peace in at the end of six days of constant information but is one way of creating the space to find what is inside you which is demanding to be brought out.

Good luck - and let us know how you get on!