Digital Detox: Less Screen Time, More Body-and-Soul Time

No doubt, man – maintaining endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and exercise-supported peace-of-mind in the second half of our lives takes meaningful time. Four or more days per week.

Major challenge: “We never have enough time” is a truism that is nonetheless true. But if you’re determined to feel great, look good, be happy and live long…exercise needs to be a non-negotiable part of who you are.

So, what should you do?

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Digital detox? This is about time. Because, no doubt, man – maintaining endurance, strength, flexibility, balance and exercise-supported peace-of-mind in the second half of our lives takes meaningful time. Four or more days per week.

Major challenge: “We never have enough time” is a truism that is nonetheless true.  But if you’re determined to feel great, look good, be happy and live long…exercise needs to be a non-negotiable part of who you are.

So, what should you do?  Sleep less…spend less time with family and friends…spend less time at work?  The first two are not healthy.  And while there’s a whole (valuable) mini-industry focused on productivity and doing more work in less time, let’s assume here that less work time isn’t an option for you.

The answer is staring you in the face (too often, in fact):  spend less time looking at computer or phone screens for news and social media. Recent studies show the average American spending nearly three hours daily on Internet media (not to mention continued huge TV usage – that’s a subject for a different day).

We all want to stay informed and in-touch.  Important goals. But ask yourself:  where’s the daily point of diminishing returns? (e.g. is 30-60 minutes enough, and beyond that I’m really just wasting time and procrastinating?)

For example, my “vice” is political news.  But I realized so many articles are just re-mixes of the same news, speculations, etc.  Cycling (a few times a day, even) among the NY Times, Wall St. Journal, Washington Post, Politico, Real Clear Politics and Five Thirty Eight was 95% redundant…and not serving my most important life goals.  Your version of this might be Facebook, or Fantasy Football sites, or whatever…

joyful-man-sunset

Brothers, with your thriving in mind, I say you can find 30+ minutes each day by consciously reducing media time, and you won’t diminish benefits you get from it.  Two specific suggestions:

⇒ Don’t dive into media at the start of your day.  For many, morning is the most productive on thought-demanding work tasks, and for some it’s a great time to exercise.  But whatever you do for the first 1-2 hours of your day, make it be driven by, and for the benefit of, you…instead of waking to immediately subjugate your time and mind to other people’s content and agendas.

⇒ Access media much less frequently during the day.  You’ll survive not “checking in” every couple of hours. With rare exceptions, not that much changes hour-to-hour or morning to evening.  I’ve found frequency habits reinforce themselves:  the frequent media checker feels compelled to check ever more frequently…and the purposeful media time “modulator” finds he can keep on extending the length of time between media plunges, and not be worse for the wear (he feels better, actually).

So, here’s how to make time for that run, trip to the pool or gym, yoga practice, hike with your dog – whatever serves you.  Avoid media during the first part of your morning, and use that precious time for other types of productivity.  Then be a “cautious investor” of your time with media for the rest of the day.  Use time you find for fitness, a little more sleep, time with your spouse or partner, focusing on a hobby.  In the end, these are the things that get us what we really want from our time here on the planet.

Try this for a month, and let the community here know what you think!

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” (Bob Marley, Redemption Song – click to listen)

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5 Comments
  1. […] injuries and other physical factors, plus the constant squeeze of time from careers, family and technology/media, slowly but almost inexorably pressure us to let certain other important flames burn low or go […]

  2. […] decades” fitness and nutrition plan. As one example of the many that exist here, check out these thoughts about controlling the role of email, media and “screen time” in our […]

  3. […] You DO have time to invest in fitness and activities that manage stress. Some of this time can be reclaimed from a subtle beast that has been sinking its claws into you, little by little, for years: email, […]

  4. […] CAN make time for walking (e.g. cut down on digital/screen time a bit, or make phone calls you’d make anyway, while […]

  5. […] I’ve “been there” on digital addiction, and I’m now a strong advocate of reducing time spent looking at a screen.  We can use the time for a more well-rounded mix of things, including fitness. […]

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