#Disconnected3 : Challenging yourself to disconnect for a full 3 hours a day

photo credit: visibly damaged

While my professional activities (academia and consulting) don’t necessarily demand from me to be connected all the time, I’ve gotten to a point with my online life that I am almost connected 24/7. My good friend Alexandra Samuel has written extensively on how your online friends and online lives are also real life. I loved listening to Alex speak at Northern Voice on this very topic this year (Stop Apologizing for Your Online Life).

Nom nom nom
photo credit: jamalfanaian

But the truth of the matter is that sometimes I am connected even as I eat dinner. With someone who is NOT on Twitter. With someone who would very much appreciate my full, undivided attention. And that’s just on the personal side. What about the professional side? As an academic, I need reflective time to think and ponder about how to further the body of knowledge. And I can’t do that by cross-tasking.

I have explained before here that there is no such thing as multi-tasking). In the past, I have attempted (rather unsuccessfully) to completely disconnect from the online world. I lasted a total of 2 days.

UBC Library
photo credit: dbaron

But as I have mentioned in my 6 months self-assessment, one of the biggest reasons why I now have interns for Hummingbird604.com is because I NEED the time to focus on my academic work. Right now, my consulting is going great as I juggle my lives, but academia DOES require more time to think, reflect and analyze data. And I can’t do that if I’m always online. That’s how I came up with the idea of Disconnected 3.

Disconnected 3 is a challenge that asks from you to spend a total of 3 full, non-interrupted hours offline. I considered letting text your significant other be off the program, but I think that academic work requires full concentration on one task and therefore texting would break the flow. I asked my good friend Minna Van (co-founder of The Network Hub) to take the Disconnected 3 Challenge with me. We’ll see how far we get.

It’s definitely possible to keep track of the process: If you want to tweet, you can begin your 3 hour period of disconnection by saying “Going #Disconnected3 back around XX time“. You can even use Twitter to keep you accountable, by tweeting a summary of what you did during your #Disconnected3 time.

I have it relatively easy in terms of the process to disconnect. I need time to read the articles I assign my students, reflect and prepare Power Point slides. As for my consulting, I need time to read documents that I can save on to my PDF reader and then reflect and write analytical summaries. I also need time to meet with my students, interns and colleagues.

I think that once you implement it, you’ll discover it’s easier to disconnect than what you think (my hypothesis is that once *I* implement it my life will be MUCH easier). But I want to challenge myself to slowly grow the time I’m offline and the time I keep cross-tasking.

What do you think of my crazy #Disconnected3 idea, my lovely readers?

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Comments (3)

Michelle ClausiusAugust 2nd, 2011 at 10:27 am

I unplugged for 11 entire days this summer. No TV, no email, no internet. It was bliss. 3 hours is a great suggestion. How can you be present when you have one eye on the screen and the other somewhere else?

KevinAugust 2nd, 2011 at 4:10 pm

4 days over long weekend, it felt great. I didn’t want to have to check my emails when I got home though..

paulAugust 3rd, 2011 at 7:31 pm

i wrote a blog post here (http://pjrvs.com/notifications/) about completely removing notifications from all my devices… it’s not a total disconnect, but now i use social media ONLY when i take time to log in and use it – i’m not interrupted by it constantly. i might try this challenge too, i like it!

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