Unplug Your Life

Point Lobos Seascape

Point Lobos Seascape

I have a confession: I do not own a smartphone anymore. I work in front of a computer enough as is, both out of necessity to earn a living but also for fun.  The side effect of this is that it makes me value my real life even more so I don’t want to waste anymore of my life on the internet and computer than I already do. Plus there is nothing more annoying than talking to someone who has their face buried in their phone all day.

For three days I left the digital world behind entirely for fun-filled days of photography and travel on the California Central Coast with my girlfriend. I didn’t bring a laptop on this trip as I find that when I travel with a laptop it makes my photography suffer because I ultimately end up spending too much time on it, such as how I lost most of my last day in Nevada this past fall due to having to deal with my website being hacked. Though it sucks to have your site hacked and taken down for two days, in hindsight I wish I could have that last day back and dealt with the problem back at home.

I didn’t miss the internet at all during this trip to Monterey and I think I’m going to try traveling digital-free again when I go to Canada. It felt so liberating to be able to focus solely on the things that are important to me. The problem I find in today’s world is that there are so many distractions that it just results in a loss of productivity. No one wants to admit that but it’s true.

Try unplugging for a few days, or longer if you’re traveling. Leave the devices at home and focus on you. If you need intellectual stimulation, try having a real conversation with the people you’re with rather than IM’g each other while in the same room, go for a hike, go to a museum or read the books on your shelf that you haven’t gotten around to yet. You’ll probably come back a happier person and healthier.

See more of my Monterey Bay pictures.

12 thoughts

  1. Completely agreed, Richard. I think that’s a really valuable lesson, and although I agree completely, I don’t always do the best at listening to my own advice.

    Unplugging from the world can be a really great way to reconnect with yourself, which sometimes is very valuable…

    -Greg

  2. I agree Richard. I just returned from two weeks in the southwest and although I had my phone with me the service was limited. I vanished from the social scene, watched no TV, and had a refreshing re-connect with my creative juices.

    It’s definitely something we need to do regularly in this fast-paced technical world.

    -Russ

  3. Pingback: Unplugging – How much? » Paul Lester Photo

  4. Great advice. I don’t own a smartphone, I have a 5 year old cell for emergencies mostly, though I do the odd phone call and text on it. My friends are always concerned that I don’t often leave it on, I turn it on to check if I have messages then turn it off again. I just don’t think that people need to get hold of me at any instant, and a voice mail answered later will do for me.

    I went for a short day hike on Saturday – nice weather and a very busy trail. I bet that in the 2 hours up the trail there wasn’t a 15 minute period where I heard people complaining there wasn’t any cell signal or they couldn’t send their text message here. Talk about missing the point! I was a bit more interested in the mountain views and the nice green colored water in the river next the trail.

  5. Thanks Michael. That’s crazy, that those people can’t enjoy the hike without stressing about the cell signal. It’s fine to have the phone for emergency, but why are they so anxious to send the texts? Should have stayed home then.

  6. There are retreat centers now where you can go and stay in a bungalo and have a completely disconnected experience for a week. Probably just what we need. According to research, more input and ideas does not improve creativity. Down time and quiet does.

  7. Good advice Richard. One of the reasons I enjoy diving so much. Underwater, there are no cell phones, computers, or even conversations to any great extent. Just you and the ocean.

    I think David’s reference above to the retreat centers is a great example of just how widespread this issue is…. so much, that some people have capitalized on it! I do wonder though, if the people that actually run the place are unplugged. :-)

  8. Interesting comments guys. I had no idea there were places designed specifically to help people unplug. Hope I never have to go to one of those!

    I would guess if the owners were unplugged it might be a little hard to generate business, unless it was all word of mouth…

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