a-digital-slowdown-challenge-a-five-point-plan | The BridgeMaker

A Digital Slowdown Challenge: A Five-Point Plan

By on Apr 13, 2011


Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius

I admire my wife. Mary Beth is a mother of four children, a practicing Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a brain surgery survivor. However, her current status is she has no status, at least in a virtual sense, because Mary Beth has given up Facebook for Lent.

She made this decision a few days before Ash Wednesday and has stayed true to her Lenten promise ever since. Before Lent, her morning routine consisted of enjoying her coffee while scanning for updates, updating her own status and sharing photographs.

Today Mary Beth still enjoys her morning coffee; she just does it while doing other things.

I get the sense Mary Beth didn’t give up Facebook to deprive herself of something she enjoyed, but to give herself a little more time to do things that mean just as much to her. After all, Facebook and other forms of digital media don’t keep us from experiencing life in more fulfilling ways – we do.

Seeking a simpler life

Mary Beth has inspired me to look at how I use technology. My job has me online most of the day. And it seems like the need to respond to emails, text messages and voice mails is an uphill battle.

The digital age, along with its implied expectation that we respond immediately, has made our lives more complex in certain ways. Spending so much time engaged with digital technology is keeping us; is keeping me, from living a simpler life.

Small steps

The time it takes to check email, monitor blog traffic and do research is too much. So, my digital slowdown begins today. My goal is to make changes that will give me a little time back, but without ignoring my commitments.

Here’s my personal digital slowdown five-point plan:

  1. No longer will I check email while stopped at a traffic light. I will leave my Smartphone in the car’s center console as I enjoy the song on the radio. Now spring has arrived, perhaps I will roll down the window, turn off the radio and simply breathe.
  2. When it’s time to write, I will close my email account and all other web pages so my focus can be on writing. I bet by doing this I’ll get to a stopping point a little sooner and get back to my family a little faster.
  3. I will monitor Google Analytics (blog traffic and other metrics) twice daily – once in the morning and then again in the evening.
  4. The BridgeMaker Facebook page will still be updated daily, but I will monitor comments and posts left by others only twice daily as well – same for Twitter.
  5. Building relationships with other bloggers will still be an important commitment; however, I will limit my commenting and sharing of posts to the ones that really speak to me.

This plan won’t disconnect me from digital media, that’s not the point. The point is to find ways to slowdown my use of it so I can become better connected with my life outside of it.

This is a start and it feels good to use public accountability as a means to see that I stick to it.

A new start

On Easter Sunday, I will prepare the coffee before Mary Beth gets up. After she wakes, my wife will come into the kitchen, kiss me and then reach for her coffee mug (some mornings the coffee mug comes first, though).

After pouring a cup, no doubt she will go to her computer, log in to Facebook and see what her friends and relatives have been up to the last 40 days. Knowing my wife, Mary Beth will give me a play-by-play description of what’s happening. I’ll listen, but not with my full attention.

The promise she made will have been kept. Mary Beth will be reconnected with some special people in her life and she’ll be back to her morning routine. And knowing my wife, I think how she uses Facebook will change. While she’ll still keep track of what’s happening; she’ll also make sure she’s keeping track of what else has become an important part of her morning routine.

Like I said, I admire my wife.

As for me?

Easter Sunday will be a good day to review my five-point plan to see how my personal digital slowdown is going. I may not be following the plan perfectly, but at least I’ll be trying to make more time in my life for the simpler things; and for the things that matter most.

If changes are needed, Easter will be the perfect day to make a new start.

How about you?

Please share in Comments below if a digital slowdown is right for you. If so, what’s your plan? Reading this by email? Please visit the blog to share – just click here.

The BridgeMaker Founder Alex Blackwell is the author of Letting Go: 25 True Stories of Peace, Hope and Surrender. Join the community to connect, share and inspire: Twitter | Facebook | More Posts

  • True words John – “Life’s too short to be a long time dead.” Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  • Great quote Alex, I use it and adhere to it too! You make salient points – whilst we are online the rest of our life is going on….without us. We don’t live where we do with who we do for no reason. To properly switch off we need to log off. I’m going to major chill at Esater too and have a marvellous holiday booked for early May. Life’s too short to be a long time dead. Happy Easter to you and Mary Beth – enjoy each other.

  • David, I like the distinction you make between being effective vs. efficient. There’s no question more value exists with being effective. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

    Ali, to be honest, I didn’t read your upcoming guest post for The BridgeMaker until after I posted this. When I did read it, I smiled knowing that both a 26-year-old woman and and 48-year-old man who live in different countries struggle with the same issue.

    Yes, acknowledging our power to change is one of our best gifts of being human Stuart. Let’s keep making it simple!

  • Best of luck with the 5 point plan Alex. The greatest thing we can do for ourselves is to acknowledge that there’s something wrong in our lives, and to acknowledge that we have the power to change it.

    I’ve thought about giving up Facebook before, perhaps doing a 30 day fast like Steve Pavlina did. It’s very easy to get sucked in, and as Confucius said, why make life complicated when it doesn’t need to be? 🙂