Unplug and Take a Digital Detox!

Article by Rain San Martin

Escape from Continual Internet Distractions and Experience Life Naturally

A PodCast by Invisible Office Hours illustrates that we have reached the pinnacle of matrix-like immersion in their episode, “Social Media Part 1“. While at a Starbucks coffee shop during a social media fast, the co-host Jason Zook observed a person continually staring down into their smartphone even as they ordered. The show host did an experiment to see if paying for this persons drink would make them lift their locked eyes if only for one moment. The result: A glazed over stare into the black hole of the internet as they casually said “thanks”. He observed that we are afraid of being alone, even for a moment. This is more than becoming a cyborg, this is living for a continual state of “dopamine” like levels of stimulation as we are entertained in the online world.

Social media has it’s place for connecting family, friends and sharing news stories. Technology can be an excellent tool if used judicially. However, living primarily in the online world is artificial and will take a toll on our health, mind and relationships. Break free from “connection addition”.

What To Do During a Digital Detox

Create a regular habit where you unplug from podcasts, texting, social media, gaming, television, movies, radio, computers and all mobile devices. Imagine you have gone away to a log cabin bed and breakfast. Recharge your batteries for either a day, a weekend or a few hours. I personally unplug from all electronics 24 hours once per week, with the exception of my digital camera. On regular days technological entertainment is used sparingly.

  • Read classic literature. If you own a Nook or Kindle this is a great tool to have for deep reading sessions. A dedicated “e ink” reader is stratospherically better than using a tablet or even an iPad Retina as there are no online distractions.The display has crystal clear paper-like text. However, during your unplugged time aim to have physical books and quality magazines with fine journalism on hand, which you can checkout at the library.
  • Have a deep conversation with a person in your family.
  • Watch your children play.
  • Clean your home like a monk, enjoying the serenity of peaceful natural sounds as you bless your home space.
  • Draw a picture
  • Daydream
  • Create a happiness journal
  • Paint with kids watercolors
  • Write a letter by hand. Observe the penmanship during the Victorian and Classical Era’s. If you look at the Declaration of Independence, you observe excellence of craft. Could it be that penmanship reflects discipline and integrity?
  • Reflect on who you are at your core
  • Make a phone call with all smart-phone notifications turned off. You may wish to consider owning only a basic cell phone. Some have gone back to having a land line to restore their freedom!
  • Write a letter by hand
  • Play with your children
  • Go on a walk, bike ride or hike
  • Read a book or magazine from the library, or a physical copy that you own
  • Journal
  • Do projects around the home
  • Talk to your spouse about life. Develop your relationship. Save concerns for later, and gently put in writing.

Boost Brain Power by Reading Classic Literature and Articles in Their Entirety

As we aim to boost creativity, productivity, and focus on our life purpose, we need to exercise our brain with a series of disciplines. At the peek of human intelligence, the Victorian Era, immersive reading and letters written by hand were a regular ritual. Classic literature is more likely to encourage deep thinking according to the article, “Shakespeare and Wordsworth boost the brain new research reveals”. Now in this “age of immediacy” we are at risk for “intellectual obesity”, as we train our minds to be satisfied by info snippets and lack discipline to focus on one task at a time. The Forbes magazine article: “Kids Don’t Read Books Because Parents Don’t Read Books” illustrates that parents are no longer modeling good reading habits in this age of entertainment. The good news is, we can change.

One of the best activities to experience while unplugged from the internet is deep immersive reading. I recommend getting a dedicated eReader so you can continue to read without the distraction of apps or internet connection. Read for comprehension, not speed so that you can absorb what you are learning. When we slow down our reading to where we can comprehend the information, we trigger deep levels of thinking.

Reading Classic Literature as a Discipline: My Testimony

I’ve maintained the habit of nightly reading for 15 years, it was a natural cure for insomnia as it cancels out the minds thoughts. I had no idea what a voracious reader I would become, pouring through volumes of books throughout the years. On the rare occasion that I would wake in the middle of the night, I would turn to my reading habit. A couple of years ago I challenged myself to make reading classic literature a part of my nightly reading routine. For about 20-45min each evening I would read the Bible or a Christian informational book, a nonfiction book (this I most anticipated) and a classic literature book. Initially I was resistant to reading fiction Classics as they did not hold my interest. I could not connect with the culture or expressions, and the vocabulary was challenging. Walden Pond, Little Woman and The Hobbit were the only classics I thoroughly enjoyed at the time. Then I decided to take on a challenge and create a new habit. Many classic books were from the Google Books Library Project. Thanks to this discovery, I have access to forgotten history books on inventors, composers and explorers written during the late 1800’s. I was astounded by the rich vocabulary, work ethic and respect in the various authors voice. Today’s biographies are primarily tabloid story moments. As thought they hope to bring down the greatest achievers. As a result I found myself using exponentially more vocabulary words in speech and in writing. Now when I read a modern book I am usually disappointed that I rarely have to look up a word.

Is Texting Dumbing Down Language?

How can culture preserve language when the ubiquity of texting has replaced letter and even email composition? We may lose thoughtful writing as a society if we continue on this trajectory of shorthand urban language used in mobile communication. Some argue this is harmless and a separate language within itself, yet how many prolific texters develop well composed paragraphs throughout the week? Without regular use, muscles atrophy, as does the skill of writing. Technological trends need not always be embraced. We should ask ourselves, “Is this progress”? There is also the trend of fewer pc and laptop sales. Let’s think about the implications of this in regards to communication? How do you think it will impact society once the masses no longer use computer keyboards?

Boost Your Intelligence by Modeling Forgotten Secrets of the Victorians

According to an article on Phys.com entitled: Researchers Suggest Victorian-Era People More Intelligent than Modern-Day Counterparts“, a study was done that proved Victorians possessed higher intelligence than today’s modern individual. The Victorians wrote thoughtful letters by hand. Today the art of handwriting is being forgotten. Auto-suggest writes for us as we type. Often Victorians played a musical instrument if they wanted music in their home. Today all one need do is pull up Spotify or Pandora and passively listen. The craft of studying music is being forgotten. The Victorians held a higher standard of excellence which was displayed in their work ethic and fashion. Pick up any book written in the late 1800’s and observe the rich vocabulary and eloquence of speech. Why do you think people who lived during the Victorian Era were more intelligent than people today?

Today’s Steampunk counterculture movement is highly motivated by an appreciation for lost ideals. Fine literature, penmanship, manners, dress, hands-on craftsmanship and other lost arts of humanity, reflected a greater sense of pride in ones work.

Reduce Digital Distractions During Your Work Day

These workday productivity tips will maximize your day whether you hold a full time paid position, work at home as a homemaker (AKA stay at home mom or stay at home wife), work from a home office or do a combination of the above.

  • Turn off all phone or mobile device notifications. Speaker / Author Seth Godin in his mini blog post “Five steps to digital hygiene” shares a nugget of wisdom, declaring that we should disable our social and mail notifications on our mobile devices.This is hugely important as we don’t want to train ourselves to continually be interrupted. Instead schedule specific times for checking email, social networks and game play.
  • Check your email no more than 1-3 times per day. Set up a daily check in time. Many simplicity experts recommend checking once in the late morning, after completing a meaningful task and again in the late afternoon.
  • Check into social media sites at scheduled times and use a timer. This could range from 1-2 times per day for 5-10 minutes, or once per week for 10-60 minutes.

 

Take a Social Media Detox as a Lifestyle Experiment

Pick a month to abstain from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other social media site you participate in as part of a Lifestyle Experiment.

It is paramount not to replace this time with digital entertainment such as texting, gaming and surfing the web as part of this exercise is to learn how to “break out of the matrix”. Learn how to enjoy life organically as humans have for millennia.

Conclusion

Is life about pleasure or meaning? Technology is a tool, overuse leads to depravity of the mind and relationships. After you’ve taken a digital detox consider ways to reduce your time texting, on social networks, surfing the web, watching tv and even listening to podcasts or music. Add them back into your life sparingly so that the focus of your waking life is organic and natural, just as our ancestors lived before the 1900s. Step out of the matrix, rip off the “Truman Show” artificial dome and breakout into life.

My Simple Holiday Plan

Article and photo’s by Rain San Martin

*You may also listen to a Podcast version of this article on my YouTube channel!

The Holidays have been known to be one of the most stressful times of the year. This is especially true for women who are usually the ones working behind the scenes baking, preparing cards, gift shopping, decorating and more.  The good news is that you can give yourself permission to omit any traditions that you feel no longer add joy to your life. At first this may feel awkward, yet with time you may rediscover the simplicity and joy of the holiday season that you knew as a child!

Get Inspired by visiting Pinterest or Reading Magazines

In Pinterest I typed in a couple of key words such as “rustic Thanksgiving”  and it yielded inspirational pictures and how-to articles. This is a great way to do a quick brain storming session for home decor, meals and activities. Make your own boards for future reference. I personally have created two key boards including: Fall Magic and Winter Magic which take me through the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and winter seasons. You can also read beautiful magazines such as Martha Stewart Living or find inspiration in the how-to articles of your personal favorite magazines. One of the best ways to get motivated is to visit the Flylady website (AKA: Marla Cilley) and view her “Cruising Through the Holidays Missions” in article and video format. They are so inspirational and motivating!

Holiday Cards

This year my large roll of return address sticker labels were nearly empty. So I returned to SuperiorLabels.com to reorder, yet decided to buy something more vintage inspired. Self-adhesive labels (stickers) were invented in 1935 by Stan Avery, as a return address format. Along with that invention came today’s modern sticker. Yet I am longing for more household items from the older world. Sarah Chrisman of ThisVictorianLife.com has stated that she has gradually replaced modern day items with those of the past. A personal goal of mine is to live a hybrid life both in the modern world, yet bringing many staples from the past. Living as a time-traveler would. As not all technology is progress. I recommend buying holiday postage stamps online, as there is a larger selection of festive stamps. Also keep your recipient list simple!

Decorations 

Come September I begin to put up fall themed decorations as I like to get the absolute most out of this season, my favorite time each year. This year I will following the more traditional custom of waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to decorate for Christmas. I’ve begun to incorporate more classic rustic “winter” themed decorations such as pine cones, evergreen trimmings and wood. This way I can enjoy these decorations throughout the winter season rather than having to remove them all after Christmas is over.

My Simple Gift Plan

Give individual gifts for your friends and relatives throughout the year, yet during Christmas consider a generic gift, making your holiday considerably more simple. For your immediate family and grand-kids you can follow a modest budget and complete your shopping before Thanksgiving arrives. I personally use Shutterfly to make beautiful photo books. I can then ship these directly to the recipient.


Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner

Three weeks before thanksgiving I begin buying groceries for Thanksgiving. Rather than think about elaborate meals I go for a classic country style Thanksgiving dinner. Usually I purchase 3-4 pre-made  items to help out. Both growing up and in my immediate family Stove Top Stuffing, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and Sparkling Cider were store bought family holiday staples. Homemade whipped cream is still unmatched by a landslide however. I recommend taking the extra time to whip it up just before serving your pie, everyone will be amazed! This year I plan to make:

Roasted Turkey

Mashed Garlic Red Potatoes

Green beans with bacon

Savory Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Bought items include:

Pumpkin Pie

Stove Top Stuffing  ( purchased and pre-made )

Pillsbury Crescent Rolls ( purchased and pre-made)

For some Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday of the year. Find ways to bring the magic of this holiday into your life.

Opting Out, Graciously Saying No and My No Holiday Travel Policy

When a person wants to invite you somewhere or invite you to an event it is actually an honor that they thought of you. Rather than feeling a sense of debt and obligation simply reply: Thank you so much for thinking of me! At this time I am unable to do this however. Never give more than one explanation. If they counter offer with a solution to your explanation, simply state that you are simplifying your life. There may be a future opportunity where you can do something as well, yet not at this time. For me this meant a no holiday travel policy. Guests are welcome to eat with us at Thanksgiving, yet Christmas is limited to the immediate family of our household for simplicity.  This powerful limitation has helped me to return to the joys of the holidays. Bringing back more of the wonderment of childhood.

Now Rediscover the Joys of the Holiday Season

Once you have cleared your plate of all non-essentials you may start to remember more magical moments. When we are frazzled and stressed with the weight of responsibility it is normal to associate stress with the holiday season. We have the power to change that. Saying “no” in a loving manner frees up time. Decluttering our possessions and keeping our home more tidy makes our space feel more breathable and relaxing. Keeping to a simple budget and streamlining our gift exchange list will save us time and money. Simplifying holiday decor and cooking will give us more time to rest.  Get inspired by viewing homey Pinterest images and read uplifting homemaking articles, this will spark a joy and motivation for the season. You may even clear out the cobwebs of your memories to Christmas’s from long ago, when life was more simple and the wonderment of Christmas was alive in your heart!


Sources:

History of the “Sticker” by

https://www.mavericklabel.com/blog/history-of-the-sticker/

R. Stanton Avery, 90, Inventor and Producer of Self-Sticking Labels

History of Rubber Stamps

http://www.companyseal.com/history-of-rubber-stamps/

8 Crafty and Simple Halloween / Fall Bucket List Ideas

 Article and photos by Rain San Martin

The fall is my favorite season of the year! Once September hits I start to transition mentally to the flavors of pumpkin and eerie aesthetics. The bucket list is not an obligation, it is an inspiration. I’m free to change it as I go. After reading this list, why not make one for yourself?

Here’s my list:

Decorate mantel in living room for the fall / Halloween.

With regard to decorations, I like to keep things simple. That’s why having two main focal points in the home (or one’s apartment) is a fantastic solution. Pinterest in my go-to spot for inspiration! Using streamer, candles, decorative leaves and lanterns. The mantel top was arranged by my husband Sage and includes a few natural fall leaves which he preserved using Mog Podge. One side benefit of enthusiastically doing DIY projects or decorating the home, is that the whole family has gotten involved.  My husband and two children have all made wonderful decorations including window silhouettes.

Make Pumpkin Patch Smoothies.

When I do my bi-weekly shopping (twice per month) I stock up on banana’s which I freeze. Usually buying 8 bunches. These are the base for excellent smoothies, making ice irrelevant.  I prepare these  with pumpkin puree, frozen banana’s, pumpkin spice, milk, vanilla and a touch of evaporated cane juice. This icy beverage has nutritious beta carotene and the banana’s aid in concentration. No need to buy an energy drink from a smoothie shop, you’ll feel a natural buzz that will energize you for hours! Serve in small iced mason jars decorated with jack-o-lantern faces and you’ll have a crafty beverage.

Decorate front porch for fall / Halloween.

Decorating the front porch during the fall is one of my favorite events. This year I placed orange lights around the perimeter of the front door, which I lightly secured in place with a few small nails. A large pumpkin sits to the side of our antique country rocking chair.  Behind the glass door hangs a sign stating “It’s Autumn” and a home-made banner with the words “Boo” created by my son. It announces to passers by that the season is in full effect.  The porch as a focal point is perfect for today’s lifestyle minimalist. By limiting the exterior decor to the porch, there is no need to feel the urge to buy inflatable yard decorations or elaborate scenes. If you are inspired to further decorate try your hand at classy window silhouettes.

Make “Hot Caramel”. 

Our local chocolatier, Debrands Chocolate makes the most decadent hot caramel drink. The idea seemed novel to me, so I ventured to make one of my own at home. I prepared home-made caramel, melted it with warm whole milk and topped with homemade whipped cream. Truly amazing!   If you are daunted with the idea of making it from scratch (and who can blame you!) there are wrapped caramels that you can melt into warmed milk. Caramel sauce in a container could be your third option. Of course you can spray on canned whipped cream.

Make Luminary Mason Jars.

You can up-cycle nice looking over sized mason jars for a beautiful DIY project. You usually need mason jars, color spray such as Krylon Shimmer Metallic Spray and a Fine Tip Black Paint Pen. Though I did my own take on the project by painting the jar by hand. I did a color gradient of black fading to orange then yellow as a base. Next I free handed the picture on a piece of paper rather than print out stencils. Some tutorials have you trace the drawn image onto the jar with a black paint pen or fine paint brush.  Because my painting base was very opaque I instead cut out the silhouette, then traced it’s edges onto my jar. Next I painted in the details. Google images has a lot of inspiration and simple lines from which to get ideas when creating a Halloween jar silhouette. When it comes to craft tools my goals is to simplify the tools needed,  adapting the technique.  This is not only apart of the minimalist lifestyle, it is how people lived centuries ago.

Get inspired! Go on a sunset bike-ride or walk to view decorations.

I’ve started an annual tradition of viewing my neighbors festive displays via bike ride. The cool autumn breeze, glowing Halloween lights, flickering Jack-o-lanterns, front doors dressed in golden fall wreaths, and spooky displays are a wonder to take in. Plus sticking with a fitness lifestyle will help you to stay trim throughout the upcoming Holiday season.   I often have 3-5 different routes I take so I can view different parts of the neighborhood. A brisk twilight hour walk is another way to take in the atmosphere. Time passes very quickly if we don’t stop to take in seasonal moments. A Holiday celebration is so much more than the day itself, it’s the season!

Prepare or Buy a Pumpkin Spice Coffee Drink.

There are many enthusiasts who kick off the fall season with their first Pumpkin Spice Latte.  I enjoyed one from Barnes and Noble in our local mall at Glenbrook Square While browsing the shop I took in the inspirational ambience and picked up a Christmas gift to stow away. Of course I recommend making your own pumpkin spice coffee drinks at home on other days.

Craft a DIY Halloween branch centerpiece. 

This is a simple DIY (Do It Yourself) craft, which can be adapted for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most people use spray-paint, yet I like to use methods from the older world as much as possible.  I start by gathering a selection of slim twigs. Next I lay them down on paper as I paint the surface with black acrylic paint. After completing each branch I sprinkle on a dusting of fine silver glitter. Once the branches have dried I arrange them together in a vase or mason jar and fill with pebbles. There are a few optional finishing touches such as wrapping a ribbon or lace around the perimeter. You can also draw and cut out bats or crows which are placed within the branches.

Simmer Oranges, Nutmeg, Cloves, Apples, and Cinnamon

The first time I became aware of the practice of simmering scents, the idea seemed like a revelation. I was on a holiday home tour when I thought surely someone must be baking apple pie! The scent came from the kitchen. Though I was disappointed there were no treats to sample, I was fascinated by the concept. A pan simmering oranges, nutmeg, cloves, apples and cinnamon could create the most wondrous fragrance. It gave one an immediate sense of calm and homeyness.

Enjoy the wonderful of the fall!

Unconventional Creative Living-A Quick Guide on How to Breakaway from Conformity and Design Your Own Way of Life

Article and photo by Rain San Martin

Often we live a certain lifestyle because we believe it is socially acceptable to do so. What if we broke away from these societal expectations and allowed ourselves the freedom to live a unique life?

Different Ways to Break Away from Conformity

Living an unconventional lifestyle is allowing yourself the freedom to play as a child does. You take the time to question conventions as customs change every generation. You can choose to live as a Time Traveler would, taking the elements you enjoy from each time era. Our manner of dress, the complexity of our lifestyle, how we spend our time, the food we eat, and our vocational choices are just some of the ways we can design our lifestyle.

Sculpt Your Life-Overcome Tough Circumstances

We may have temporary circumstances that are unpleasant. What matters is that we have our focus on outcomes that we want to achieve. Play the cards you’re dealt to maximize your possibilities. Choose your own adventure, and express your life as an art-form, because you have the power to design your life.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Discretionary time

You may notice that you have taken on habits and established routines based primarily on other peoples expectations. This is the biggest area in our life we have the ability to control. We’ve heard of the term discretionary income, what about discretionary time? We often pack our schedules to the brim, making us appear extremely busy, yet as said by Anthony Robbins,”Most people fail in life because they major in minor things.” We can get stuck in a rut because things may have “always been done this way”. Societies expectations of our routines can lead to time killers. Here are some expectations that if gone unchecked, can take you away from your lifetime goals:

  • Going to parties or clubs every Friday & Saturday night. This timer killer can set the tone for the remainder of your life. Often the weekend is the only time that a young adult or teen may develop their entrepreneurial skills or work toward their dream. While others are “living it up”, you can be “living your dream” as you work on your craft.
  • Signing up your kids for more than one activity at a time.
  • Checking Facebook, email or Twitter too often.
  • Driving to the grocery store every time you run out of an ingredient rather than creativity looking for a substitute recipe or meal.
  • Heavy PTA or excessive volunteer work (unless this is your primary calling in life).

Don’t Eat Your Lunch at Your Desk While You Work

Ask Yourself: “Why do I always eat lunch at my desk in the office?” Perhaps you want to appear like your serious about your work. You may also have so much to do that taking time away for lunch and breaks may seem like a waste of time. Quality sleep and planned breaks help us to be significantly more productive. When it’s time to work, give it your all, yet when brakes arrive use the time to go on a walk or work on your long term dreams. Perhaps you can write ideas in your laptop or hardbound journal. Once you have clarified expectations others will no longer expect you to eat at your desk during your breaks.

Fashion

One of the most obvious ways to break away from the conventional way of life is to deliberately choose costuming from a different time era, ditching societal norms. Other benefits of choosing a niche wardrobe include: a simpler wardrobe, more timeless pieces and avoiding keeping up with the Joneses. Often these pieces of clothing may receive grand complements and will be conversation starters. Interestingly enough, you may save money because your avoiding fashion fads. There is no need to replace the item once it becomes outdated, only discard when well-worn.What’s stopping you from dressing Steampunk, Renaissance or like a Mountaineer?

Take a few moments to reflect and ask yourself a couple of philosophical questions:

Why do I dress this way?

Do I really need to follow the latest fashions or can I express myself in a timeless way?

Simple Living and Simple Meals

Often we assume that because we have been given a physical gift we must hold on to it throughout our lifetime. Do you have a habit of making impulse buys every time you visit the outdoor mall? Take a moment to look at your surroundings with new eyes, would you like your home to feel more like a beach resort or bed and breakfast?

As with fashion, following diet trends will leave your eating rituals in a state of flux. One day the egg is declared unhealthy and loaded with cholesterol, the next it’s praised as a super-food. The best way to approach dieting is to eat primarily “real” unprocessed food. Minimizing man altered edibles. We also know that it’s acceptable to allow yourself to feel hungry from time to time as intermittent “fasting” cleanses the body and aids in weight loss. Yet if this method does not work for you by all means find an eating ritual that you find to be healthy and sustainable. A diet should be a lifestyle rather than something you participate in a few times per year.

Unconventional Careers

It has been assumed that collage is the absolute pathway to success. Yet the crushing weight of student loan debt coupled with unprecedented access to knowledge, makes the college pathway seem less desirable for more people each each year.

Ask Yourself Serious Questions Regarding Your Chosen Vocation.

Was it to make lots of money, a hot job at the moment or something you fell into? Stop and read 48 Days to the Work You Love or What Color is Your Parachute to help you discover your true vocation. Having a job to “pay the bills” is noble indeed, yet make sure you’re heading in the direction of your dream job. Remember the Tortoise and the Hare, while the hare is squandering his time you can be making headway toward the goal line. Today choosing to be a Career Homemaker has become an extreme lifestyle choice, yet it is extremely practical when you subtract the cost of daycare, a second car and eating out.

Now spend a few minutes and ask yourself a few questions: Is there an area of your life that you would like to be more unconventionally creative in?

1)The way you spend your time? Say “no” to secret time wasters and mindfully schedule in time for your lifetime dreams.

2)How you dress? You may want to minimize your wardrobe into capsule essentials

3)The way you decorate or “un-decorate”?  Clear spaces make homes appear more elegant without additional cost! You will also enjoy more serenity.

4)Schooling? Perhaps you wish to home-school or avoid getting into debt with college.  The article “Don’t Send Your Kids to College” by James Altucher touches on some of the reasons why college is a debt trap.

5)Unconventional Diet? Fads come and go. Stick with a diet that speaks to you personally.

It does take bravery to live unconventionally. You are choosing to be “mindful” in how you dress, spend your time & decorate your home when choosing a life of unconventional conventional creativity. You are sculpting your time and your life. Michael Hyatt wrote the article: How to Better Control Your Time by Designing Your Ideal Week, which has great insight into how much control we have over our lives. If we do not decide how to spend our time, life will “just happen” to us. You can change course at any moment, embarking on a journey to your ideal life!

The Benefits of Reducing Screen Time and Switching to a Basic Cell Phone

It has approximately been one year since I began the “radical” experiment of living “electronics” free one day per week. Before I began this journey I wondered if such a thing could be possible. My children are also on board with this healthy weekly cleanse. Now I anticipate this ritual. Some benefits include: heightened senses, quiet awareness, more quality time with loved ones and an increase of attention span.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons we should have a weekly electronics-free day. Also “why” we may wish to live more like a time traveler. Choosing only the technologies that truly benefit us.

When Steve Jobs released the iPhone, most likely he didn’t envision a world where humanity was chained to their device. It was designed as a tool, as was the Apple computer invented by Steve Wozniak. Jobs and other tech leaders placed high restrictions on the amount of screen time their children would be allotted each day. Unfortunately for most of mankind, the allure of continual connectivity and entertainment is too great a temptation. What we can do to improve this is to place more personal restrictions on online use. Getting a basic cell phone which blocks texting and data is one solution. An iPad or iPod touch used intentionally will give one the same features as an iPhone or “Smart Phone”.  Here are a few consequences of continual connectivity to a smart phone or device:

 

Looking Down at a Device Instead of Paying Attention to Our Children.

 We all have work that needs to get done. The internet makes paying bills, writing emails and doing research efficient. Yet many people keep their eyes glued to their phones, search for information or play games in extreme excess. During a research study interview, kids candidly admitted how lonely and resentful it made them feel when their parents would habitually respond to their smartphone instead of them.

Texting While Driving 

Don’t be a drone. Put down that phone. 

People who drive while typing or reading text messages are 23 percent more likely to have an auto accident. While all distracted driving is dangerous, texting is particularly hazardous as the party you are engaged with is unaware of your circumstances. Overestimating ones ability to multi-task coupled with digital addition, is the biggest reason why drivers habitually text and drive.

Texting May be Dumbing Down Our Language 

Some have argued that we have two languages, one for texting and the other for more for formal communication. Yet how often are people taking the time to write complete paragraphs? Increasingly we are seeing the computer workstation or laptop as unnecessary, as “there’s an app for that”.

Rather Than Live in the Moment We Seek Constant Entertainment

There seems to be a cultural movement where some of us believe life is more exciting when playing with our phones during all activities. Similar to running TV shows in the background during all activities in previous decades, yet more destructive. With a TV show in the background there might still be a good chance you could carry on a conversation with the person next to you. The smartphone however is the guest of honor, chief performing act and continual pacifier when brought in social settings.

We’re Losing Sleep by Checking Our Phones at Night

When we check text messages or notifications while trying to sleep at night, our brains are continually stimulated by light photons. Light sends a signal to our brain that we must stay awake as it delays the production of melatonin.

Our brains my also become further stimulated by reading news feeds or checking email. We may be saddled with concerns or excited by an announcement. Better to keep the smart phone out of the bedroom at night, or at the least turn on airplane mode.

People Stare Down at their Smartphones in Public Spaces

If we were to travel back in time to the year 2005, we could walk into a restaurant, school registration booths or shop without the distractions of smartphones. Our heads were facing forward unobstructed ready to greet the world. We might take a quick call from our cellphones, but would quickly get back to the world around us.

Here are some of the reasons why you may love having a weekly electronics day:

Heightened senses. There is a greater awareness of ones surroundings including sounds. You will hear and appreciate the natural music of birds, chimes, wind, rain, dogs barking, kids playing, bikes cycling and lawn mowers cutting grass. For example: Our family once enjoyed a lunch outing at a popular local restaurant. The experience would have been that much more pleasant had they decided not to play an overly loud background pop-station playlist. Taking a break from the radio gives one a renewed take on the world. The sound of conversation, laughter & clanging of dinnerware is ambient entertainment in itself.  When we learn to train our minds and ears, lifes “Foley” sounds reveal their natural charm.

Quiet awareness: You’ll hear your thoughts, and they will naturally slow down as we become more observant of our surroundings.  If you are a creative content creator, craftsmen or thinker this day will supply an infinite source of inspiration!

Why are we afraid of silence? When society is given the choice to be entertained by recorded music, video clips, social status update & movies or to experience natures backdrop, the impulse is to choose entertainment. What if we only used this media as a seasoning rather than our main course? Though most of us may hold jobs which require the computer, choosing to be entertained by default does not make us advance as a society.

Interaction with family. Video games, social media, texting, video, internet & radio noise fill the air with digital and analog noise. Taking a break from these channels clears the way for conversation to occur. It should be stated that I have a basic cell phone (cellular telephone) with texting and internet disabled. This phone is allowed on electronics free day only for heart to heart conversation.

We may write more. Keep a physical journal available. Using a hard bound journal or spiral travel notebook you may want to journal some of the insights of this freeing lifestyle. If you are a blogger or digital archiver, you can transcribe the writing into a digital format the following day.

Many homemakers admire the lifestyle of the Amish. Their ways of engaging in the world around them without the need for technology. This simplicity can be obtained without switching to this extreme lifestyle.

We can choose to be curators of the technologies that we use.

Get the Most Out of Your Day Job-Without Adding More Hours!


Whether you hold a job as a plumber, retail sales representative, office clerk, construction worker or homemaker (stay at home mom) make the most out of your time on the job. This position may not be your “life’s work” which is related to your core gifts and passions, yet you don’t want to squander your time on the job giving less than your best. The following tips will show you how to gain more experience and satisfaction with your day job, without adding additional hours to your work week. If your showing up to work each day, why not make the most of every day!

Take the opportunity to expand your work experience beyond your job title.

Once you’ve learned the ropes of the job which is expected of you, see if you can deliver above and beyond. Thinking independently of ways you can help your company or customer. If your a receptionist and there is no other work to do, see if the office needs organization. Always be asking yourself, “What can I do to go beyond what is expected of me, how can I take initiative?” It’s about “thinking outside of the box” to creatively solve problems for your company. If your office offers reading material to learn more about the company, spend a few extra minutes each week in study to give you an edge. If your a career homemaker, run your home as you would your own business. Be disciplined in keeping breaks short and minimize distractions.

Respect your company and yourself by avoiding time wasters.

You may not be the fastest typist or electrician, yet you have control over your focus. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The turtle though not a gifted in speed was diligent and steady on the course. The hare was fast, yet he idled away his time. Who won the race? The tortoise. Today’s time wasters are the ubiquitous mobile devices with access to texting and social networks. Or small talk at the water cooler during work time. You might think, “That’s OK the boss is out of the office”. Your co-workers see you however. If you work from home as a freelancer, you need to stay focused as your family or neighbors see you. See all of your actions as building your professional reputation. Avoid office gossip. Stay positive. Assume all that you say to another co-worker could be repeated. If you never saw this in the past you can correct the situation by rebuilding your work ethic reputation starting today!

Group tasks into concentrated chunks of time.

Set a timer for 30 minutes and focus on a particular task. Phone calls, document creation, stocking an area of the store, or brain storming. Try to avoid switching tasks until the project is complete. If you handle the phones in your office, take the call then return to your project. Focused activity yields maximum results. In doing this very task you’ll gain productivity by eliminating time wasters.

Keep your axe sharp by a getting a full-nights sleep and taking regular scheduled breaks.

You know how much sleep you need to feel vital the next morning. It may 8, 6 or even 9 hours of solid sleep. Make it a habit to wake and fall to sleep at the same time each day. Recharge by taking your scheduled breaks away from the office. Return a couple of minutes early to build a reputation of reliability. Sometime there is pressure to eat at the desk or hang out with co-workers at a restaurant during your break. Your lunch breaks are a chance to sharpen the axe by doing a restful, invigorating or creative activity.  To maximize your lunch time it is recommended to pack a healthy meal which is ready to go. You’ll also save money and your waistline! Some ideas include:

  • Laying down for a few minutes in your car for a mini-nap
  • Eating lunch in a park while observing nature. Have a notebook ready to jot down creative ideas.
  • Walking around the urban city as you eat your lunch. You can keep a wide brimmed hat in your car or desk for this purpose.
  • Writing on your laptop at a coffee shop working on a blog post or book.
  • Reading a trade journal or motivation book which will provide you with inspiration.

Working on Your Side Passion Will Give Your More to Bring to the Table

When you have a “side hustle” project while working your day job you will naturally be developing more marketable skills. You may learn business development, graphic design, and social media marketing among other things.  While other co-workers may be clocking in and out of the job only to come home and play video games, watch TV, go out for drinks or linger on Facebook

Make life-long continual learning a habit.

Most people stop reading literature and developing skills after high school or college. You don’t need to invest ten of thousands on a college education to master the discipline of self guided study. If you begin to immerse yourself in a field you can learn just as much, if not more, than one can with a four year degree. Make life-long learning and skill development apart of your lifestyle and you will have the knowledge of one with multiple degree’s. Hands on experience being even more valuable.  James Altucher’s, 40 Alternatives to College will get you thinking of creative ways to replace the extreme financial debt associated with formal education with a life of continual learning and experience.  When you have the mindset of one who is seeking to expand their skill-set you will seek opportunities to take on new tasks at your day job. In doing so you will have a greater sense of pride and purpose in what many may see as mundane.

Conclusion

Don’t sit on the side lines during your work hours. Give your best to every moment and in years to come you will see your resume expand in unexpected ways while boosting your professional reputation.