For the month of January, I’ve subscribed a digital sabbatical. The details were put together by Cal Newport, someone who I’m particularly fond of in his work on deep focus, but here’s the gist:
In my personal life, I am to remove all optional technologies for the month… then re-introduce them again in a purposeful way.
I took this assignment to its full extent, cutting out social media (not deleting accounts – just not logging in), Feedly, podcasts, video games, random web surfing, news sites (although a physical newspaper is fine), only checking my personal email a few times throughout the day and deleting any app on my phone that has a desktop or web browser equivalent.
I can still take calls and respond to text messages, as I’m not looking to cut myself off from the world.
After a week, even though I’ve always considered myself a focused person who can handle digital distraction, I’m blown away by the results.
Already, reading is much deeper (my brain isn’t always interrupting me to wonder what else is happening), writing is coming easier and the inclination to “just check” my phone has almost subsided.
I don’t anticipate any great revelation in the end, nor will it be a stepping point to completely cut out digital technologies. We are very much in a new world and removing myself from the stream would be akin to telling Gutenberg I don’t care much for his printing press.
This is a sabbatical to remind myself of technology’s purpose and how I can better use it for my own life.
There will still be daily posts, but I suspect there will also be great strides in other work as well. I’ll keep you posted.