Turn Off The Internet

Today I returned from an extended Labor Day weekend at my family farm in Wisconsin. This trip was almost a full week, a time length that used to be a luxury in the past for me. I already knew that disconnecting from my devices for short periods of time helped me focus and recharge, but I had a big realization on this trip about what I need going forward: I need a scheduled weekend to disconnect every 6-8 weeks. I need to turn off the internet.

I spend my days being so connected to my iPhone, iPad, and my MacBook at all times. I’m always connected to the internet through one of my devices that it feels like I will always have it. That I should always expect it. That I always need it. On our farm in Wisconsin, we don’t have internet. My iPhone goes in and out of service in the house there. Switching back and forth between ‘No Service’ and one bar. To make a call with a reliable connection I have to go up to a neighbors house on a hill at the end of the road. In the house I can receive push notifications and text messages…but replying to messages or looking at the app the notification came from doesn’t really work well.

Usually when I arrive I am a little anxious about it. It takes planning for phone calls, emails and anything internet related. It’s hard to pull away from the allure of always being connected…it is so second nature now. This trip, I tried to keep my phone on for the first few hours once I arrived. I responded to a few text messages but half of my replies failed to send. I ended up just shutting my phone off after that and decided to drive up the hill to make some phone calls the next day. I was kind of pissed about it. WHY!?! Why do I have to deal with this after all of these years there? That next day I had 45 minutes of phone calls and then I checked my email. 86 new emails in 24 hours. It was almost like my last (digital) meal. I knew I wasn’t going to keep up with it so I said the hell with it and shut my phone off the rest of the weekend.

This trip I noticed a few things. First, after about three days of being there I felt fully rested. Noticeably rested. My daily routine ceased to exist and my body went into rest mode. I was falling asleep earlier, around 9 or 9:30 and waking up later in the mornings. The first two days was around 8am, but then on the third day it was about 7am and continued to be about 7am the rest of my time there. So definitely more sleep than normal. Second, the lack of phone distractions made me much happier. I spent time working outside in the sun, reading, cooking and even some golf with my dad. No phone. No distractions. Third, once I got back home I was ready to dig in and get to work. I had energy and tons of motivation, noticeably more than when I left.

All of this leads me to the conclusion that I don’t just want, I need to disconnect in nature at least every 6-8 weeks for three full nights. I will need to verify the timeframe of 6-8 weeks, but I think the three nights is pretty spot on for me to recharge. Going forward I am going to plan out trips for myself to get away every 6-8 weeks. I need the forced disconnect and calm. I’ve always felt that I need more “me” time than most other people and I finally have realized what time frame I need for myself.

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