The latest technology trend? Going low-tech.
Since 2012 began, a number of articles have touted the value of “unplugging” to get our most meaningful work done. What many people, and some companies, are realizing is that we may need to take drastic measures to “switch off.”
Here are some low-tech suggestions:
• Unplug from email after work. Volkswagen is stopping the email server to its BlackBerry-using employees a half-hour after their shift ends, and then turning it back on 30 minutes before work begins the next day, according to The New York Times.
The lesson: Smartphones are so addictive that few of us do it on our own. The Volkswagen decision reflects a desire to curb employee burnout that results from being available 24/7.
• Leave your mobile device at home. If you’re going on a hike or just sitting at a coffee shop for 30 minutes, leave your smartphone at home.
Why? “There is an importance to being able to put [that little computer] aside and let those daydreams naturally perform the cognitive functions your brain needs,” says neuroscientist Jonah Lehrer, author of Imagine: How Creativity Works.
If you don’t give your mind time to wander, you won’t be able to solve problems. And your mind can’t wander while you’re playing Angry Birds. Take the precautionary step of just leaving it at home.
• Go on a weekend Internet fast! After spending a weekend (or longer) without smartphone or Internet access, people inevitably report gaining new insights about themselves and their lives.
Some travelers are even paying big sums to stay in “black-hole resorts,” where there’s no online access. Some workers are taking up hobbies like sailing or bridge, so they can be sure they’ll be out of touch for a few hours. And others buy Freedom software, which allows you to disable an Internet connection for up to eight hours.
Getting rid of the “Pavlovian pull of the Internet freed me” to focus on the truly important, wrote one person who disconnected.
— Adapted from “Resolved in 2012: To Enjoy the View Without Help From an iPhone,” Nick Bilton, and “The Joy of Quiet,” The New York Times.
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