(Digital) Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder (And the Mind Stronger)

I am amazed at how a 24-hour Facebook detox changes my entire outlook on life.

Recently I gave up television (for the most part; HBO isn’t tv, right?) and became more productive as both a scholar and a home owner. I also noticed that I cared a whole lot less about those extra pounds, my old car, and all the other “concerns” we are led to have via the idiot box.

As I finished my dissertation and began (desperately) seeking employment, I noticed that I began checking my email and Facebook compulsively. Like when I went to refresh my email, the time stamp revealed that I had updated it only 2-3 minutes earlier. I also kept getting sidetracked by Facebook when I had hopped on the computer only to check a movie time or find another book to borrow from the library. In a matter of a few short days, I became scatter-brained, flitting from one thing to the next and accomplishing next-to-nothing. I also became anxious and, truthfully, pretty crabby.

So, yesterday I decided to delete the FB app off my phone and notifying a group I manage to email me if they need me. This saved me from hopping online “just in case” someone may have had a question about a meeting, what to bring, etc.

I also set up my email forwarding and push notifications so that I could easily and quickly see who had emailed me about what, and respond (or not). There was no need to check my email; I could simply glance at my phone when it pinged.

Sure enough, even this 24-hour change to my digital habits cleared up much of the mental fog and mania that had been defining my everyday life these past weeks. I am not against Facebook or email; in fact, both mediums are incredibly useful for disseminating and receiving info (and cute pics, of course). But, I find that if I don’t keep a tight rein on my digital habits, my OCD tendencies can combine with my hope/anxiety regarding the present and future, making me less peaceful and productive.

If you too are feeling out of focus  with a short emotional fuse, or simply want to enhance your productivity, I strongly recommend taking inventory of your digital habits and deciding what you can cut back on or reformat so that your time is being spent in the present, focusing on what you have to do and what you have to be grateful for, rather than desperately looking for the next opportunity, lead, or “like”-or worse, being constantly disappointed by the lack thereof.

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