June 29, 2007. Maybe this date isn’t significant to you now, but it more than likely has affected you in some way, from how you interact with people to how you do your job to how you pay your bills. It’s the day that the first iPhone was released to the public, when thousands of people lined up outside Apple and AT&T retail stores to purchase the first iPhone for the small fee of $499 for a 4GB model.
It also feels like a significant day because for some of us, it marks the approximate day or month when our brains were rewired by a near constant influx of iPhone notifications. Maybe some of us were already accustomed to mobile phone notifications via our T-Mobile Sidekicks or Blackberries, but the iPhone’s introduction, as well as the App Store, signified a sea change in our attention spans. According to Adam Alter, author of ‘Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology,’ the average attention span of a person in the pre-iPhone days was 12 seconds. But in just ten years, research suggests that there’s been a drop from 12 to eight seconds.
In simpler terms, the modern day mobile device has made our lives drastically easier, but we now also have an attention span shorter than a goldfish. Instead of dipping a toe into mobile phone dependency, we jumped in headfirst without checking how deep the water was. And in the past decade, we’ve struggled to achieve a balance between connection and focus.
It hasn’t been easy.
As a result of this love/hate relationship with our mobile devices, a movement of disconnection has grown over the past several years in search of that healthy balance. Many attribute this movement to technology obsession (yes, it’s a real thing) and point to the benefits of taking a digital break, which far outweigh the benefits of answering every Facebook message. In fact, taking a digital break allows you to increase focus, ease stress, and be in better control of your own time.
And that brings us to March 4, 2022, also known as National Day of Unplugging. To discuss the importance of unplugging, Restore CEO Jim Donnelly has some important rules to live by so that he can be the best in every avenue of life.
“The habit of disconnection plays a huge role in my success. This is two-part. One, the disconnection from notifications. I remember when I would be trying to write up a proposal and would be in a great work groove. Then, inevitably, I would get a text or a new email notification and the notification was instantly distracting. It was then an uphill battle to get back into the optimal workflow state. I find it next to impossible to do “deep” work when notifications are constantly distracting me. By allowing myself the room to disconnect from trivial things, I have become much more efficient and a better overall CEO.”
“In addition to that minute-by-minute disconnection, I have developed a habit of complete disconnection once a year. I go on a trip and leave all technology behind so I can reflect on the past year and the next year. I analyze what went right and what went wrong, focus on what my goals should be, and get my mind and body ready to achieve them. This time is purely to connect with myself, my goals, and what I need to do to make those happen.”
These disconnection habits, and Jim’s commitment to practicing them, allows for him to be present in all walks of life, from work to play to life at home with the family. So today, even if you’ve never practiced disconnecting, might be a good time to simply ponder a disconnection habit. How you unplug is up to you: It could be one day a week, or just a time each night when you agree to put the phone down and focus on getting quality sleep. Or it could be as simple as turning off your notifications. Or, if you’re a Restore client, set time aside for yourself in our Infrared Sauna or Mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
Just remember that all healthy relationships start with balance, including the one you have with your trusted phone. Happy disconnecting!