Disconnecting, a Digital Detox in the Life of an Entrepreneur

Alisha in DuPont State Park.jpg

The days were starting to become a blur of waking up, getting right to morning pages and barely leaving my desk the rest of the day. The thing is, I’m in love with my work so it’s easy to let it more or less take over my life. Often what I’m finding in entrepreneurship is the lines between work and other areas of my life are smudged together like a charcoal line that I’d blended so well it has no longer has boarders or meaning.

I work evenings and weekends often telling myself it’s ok, “I took a long lunch to run, workout or nap, no big deal that I’m working to 8 or 9pm to finish a few things up”. And in some ways it’s not a big deal, but in other ways I can feel the unhealthiness creeping in. They say if you find a job doing something you love you’ll never work a day in your life. Turns out the collective “They” are very wrong. What I’ve found is if you find a job doing something you love especially in the early days when you’re starting to get traction it takes a lot of effort and you end up working almost every day. It’s fun effort, but still work none the less.

Under the guise of feeling like I need to be available to my customers and community all the time to grow my business I’ve become addicted to my phone. It seems harmless to obsessively check e-mail or respond to someone in the Yoke and Abundance community on Facebook or Instagram but I find myself checking the sites more and more and I recognize this is not the human I want to be. These are lies I’ve perpetuated by adopting them myself and they are the opposite of what I would ever tell my client’s to do.

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Last weekend after a conversation with some friends I decided it was completely unnecessary to have e-mail on my phone. There are no e-mails that I get that need to be responded to immediately and I never want to set the exception that I’m attached to my phone and will respond right away, so why was I responding right away? The research shows that smart phones and social media are addictive and lead to depression. They are also pulling us into mutlti-taslking but the truth is we aren’t meant to multi-task. In addition to deleting e-mail off my phone I’ve deleted the Facebook app too. The only social media on my phone now is Instagram.

Last weekends camping trip had been on my calendar for months and I was looking forward to having some time to disconnect. I knew my phone probably wouldn’t work well and I did my best to get all of my work done before I left so that I could completely shut down. I’m embarrassed to admit the first night and into the next morning I had the urge to check my phone. I’ve trained myself like Pavlov’s dog to think I’ll get a treat every time I open my phone. I’m completely disgusted with myself over it, but when I’m feeling slightly more compassionate I remind myself that this is something I have the power to change, and I’m taking steps to undo the conditioning.

I’m making an effort to check my e-mail much much less. Based off what a friend is doing I’m going for only checking e-mail once in the morning and once in the afternoon. (I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there). My intention is similar around social media. My phone is not real life and right now it’s getting in the way of all of the creating I want to be doing. My life is what is happening right here and right now. My life is the people that are sitting at the table with me or in the car with me. My life is this very moment as it is. There is also the feeling that I’ve voluntarily allowed big brother into my life through my phone. I remember being disgusted by 1984 when I read it in high school and here I am participating voluntarily in my own surveillance. It doesn’t sit right. I’m asking myself if my phone is useful and bringing joy and enrichment or is it disconnecting me? I know when I mindlessly use it, I’m actually disconnecting myself from what’s truly important instead of using it as a tool to connect intentionally with the world around me. I’m actively taking steps to become less reliant on my cell phone.

I want to be fully present for the magistey of what’s around me. The chime of the church bell by my house each hour, the rush of water down the falls I visited in Dupont over the weekend. I don’t want to rush to answer an unimportant text message that pulls me out of the now while I’m climbing mountains. I don’t want to build myself a prison where I’m pulled to and fro by a machine that I have the power and control to operate in a more mindful way. I will not be a slave to a device. I will be present to what is in my life at this moment, even if it’s going to take a bit of readjusting. Being an entrepreneur might mean working a lot but I know it doesn’t mean mindlessness. It’s my intention to be a good example for myself and my clients by answering emails more intentionally and spending less time checking social media. Want to join me is disconnecting to connect more intentionally? What what new healthy goals will you set for yourself around work, social media and your phone?