There is a lot of discussion around the concept of digital detoxing, but it feels like now it is finally getting traction. Most of us are struggling under the load of electronic connection and I get the feeling that 2016 is going to be the year when the humans rise and start to regain some equilibrium.
So what is a digital detox? According to Wikipedia it refers to "a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers. It is regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world."
There is enough research to reinforce the importance of digital detoxing on both our productivity and our sanity. The problem is we have all developed such bad habits when it comes to using our various devices, to the point where many of us are actually addicted to our phones, tablets, laptops and anything else that we can connect to the internet.
A few months back I did a digital detox. Seven days without any internet or telephone signal. The first day was a nightmare. I literally felt like an addict searching desperately for one bar of bandwidth on my phone. It was hard, really hard, but after that first day it got much easier and then I started to enjoy the rewards.
I slept much better, my mind became incredibly sharp and clear, I could carry a thought all the way from concept to completion and I simply felt much better.
So how will this mass digital detox look? I believe a number of things will happen. Firstly we will start to see experts and authorities who actually coach people through their digital detox. There may be support groups, internal facilitators, 24 hour helps lines, a pile of books, articles and much more will all start to appear (in fact they already have).
Coloring in books are taking over bookshops, being touted as the new mechanism for adults to practice mindfulness and to help with the digital detox. And if you have tried some coloring in, it really is pretty darn relaxing.
Work practices will start to change. Meetings will become places where people talk, not spend time on their devices. There will be conversation rooms, that are device free areas for people to actually talk to one another. We will be challenged on the emails we are sending - are they really necessary or are you simply wasting your time and other peoples?
It needs to be a gradual withdrawal. We still need to work and function and be available, but we will start to have periods where we leave the phone on the desk for a few hours. We might start to have digital free weekends, where all devices are turned off. And the concept of the "signal free" holiday destination is becoming increasingly popular.
Little by little we will introduce changes into our lives that will make us feel more in control and less overwhelmed. The bottom line of course is that we really do need to do something about the over connected and over stimulated digital world that we live in, and the sooner the better.