Unplugging Yourself

By , April 16, 2008 8:24 pm

If any of you have been reading the posts by the TV Turnoff Week Blog Challenge participants, you might have noticed a common theme to just about all of them. It seems that most bloggers anticipate that unplugging the children will be far less traumatic and problematic than unplugging themselves from their computers!

I’m not sure if the reason we were drawn to blogging in the first place is because we like the connection we feel from being online, or whether the decision to write (or read) a blog created that need for connection. It is indeed a philosophical chicken and egg issue.

But regardless of the psychology behind it, the fact remains that most of us who use our computers on a daily basis are ADDICTED (myself included). If I had any doubts about my own addiction before last year’s TV-Turnoff Week Blog Challenge, the difficulty I had with minimizing my computer time that week made me realize that I am indeed dependent upon the computer.

I found that the computer sitting on the desk in my kitchen was silently calling to me: “Come on, turn me on…you can just quickly check your email then turn me off again. Where’s the harm in that? …do it, do it, DO IT!!” My goal of reducing my online time to one hour, gradually and insidiously increased throughout the week to more like and hour and a half (or maybe even two). It was torture.

However several days after TV-Turnoff Week ended last year, I had something of an epiphany about the whole computer issue:

I had a similar personal revelation today. Today I took care of a friend’s one year-old, so I was caring for two one year-olds (only three months apart in age!). Dueling babies. It was rather like having twins I suppose. I had decided ahead of time that I would simply have to stay offline. I did check email and comments once during their nap, but otherwise I really was not online.

Since I had already decided that I would not have time for the computer today, I was able to deal with the very mobile, busy babies with mindfulness. My mind was not on what might be happening online. As a consequence, the day went quite smoothly and actually seemed almost easier than some days when it is just me and my one year-old…and my computer!

It all went better for me than during the Blog Challenge where my mind was always half on my computer even as I tried to do other things. It seems to me that FOCUS is the key to success. My reader seemed to have this experience also. Whether it is a “PPP New Year’s Resolution,” or caring for extra babies, the ability to not just turn it off, but forget it, not even expect it, is the key to success.

This is an excerpt from a post I wrote about a reader who emailed me the results of her TV-Turnoff week. If you want, you can read the whole post here.

Mindfulness and focus are the key to success. Can I apply these principles to my TV-Turnoff Week this year? We’ll see!

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Here are a few tips that might help make turning off your computer a bit less traumatic:

  • Mindfulness and focus (explained above)
  • Move the computer out of your normal living space, especially if your goal is NO time online that week at all. Why have it there tempting and calling you?
  • Try and have a list of goals to accomplish during the time that you usually are online.
  • If you enjoy more spontaneity, then make a sort of “Mommy I’m Bored” Box for yourself. Put all your goals or activity ideas for yourself in a box or jar and just pull one out when you feel that need to check your email coming on.
  • When you feel like blogging, instead read a book or try a craft or recipe that you can blog about after TV-Turnoff Week is over! Think of all the great fodder for posts you’ll have. (Is this just postponing your online time? Perhaps not truly in the spirit of the week, but that is for you to decide.)
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5 Responses to “Unplugging Yourself”

  1. I have been teetering on the idea of turning the computer off next week, too. I love the idea of a bored box for me. I have lots of little projects around the house and I think this would be perfect. Now, I’m going to go read your post about the actual box.

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  2. nicole says:

    I fear I may go through withdrawal when I try to unplug myself.

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  3. Jens says:

    Have you noticed that it has officially become “Turnoff Week” without “TV” to include computers? The American organization promoting it is called Center For Screen-Time Awareness now.

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  4. Mom Unplugged says:

    Hi Jens,
    Thanks for pointing that out. I should probably update my terminology! By the way, I have also seen it called “Mental Detox Week” at the Adbusters website (http://www.adbusters.org/metas/psycho/mdw/). I kind of like the “mental detox” image myself!
    ~Mom Unplugged

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  5. Jenny says:

    I did Turn-Off Week backwards! I celebrated my birthday and my dad’s by taking a 4-hour each way car trip with just CJ, so between packing, driving, and being away from home, I’m busy playing catch-up this week while everyone else is minimizing their time online. Maybe that’s a good thing though! Good luck staying away from your computer- mine’s in the kitchen too so I know how tempting it is!

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