A quest to tame technology-driven interruptions and distractions in my daily life.

Continuing the theme from my last post on my migration from smart phone to a dumber model, I thought I would get into how and why I dumped my previously ever-present laptop for my first desktop in years.

Starting around 2001 when my wife bought me a 12″ iBook, I have been a laptop devotee ever since. From that point forward, I almost always had one of a series of Mac laptops over my shoulder while out and about – or on my lap at home. And when I was at my desk, I had it plugged into a monitor and keyboard. This meant I always had everything with me. The down side was that I always had everything with me.

Certainly, carrying my laptop around like some sort of St. Bernard had it’s advantages. You’d be surprised at how often I would whip it out to save a presentation or to do some other digital sorcery on the fly. But it was the inescapable screen that ultimately killed the idea of the laptop for me. I would sit down on the couch after putting the baby to bed or crack it open on vacation then suddenly I’d be in full on work mode for hours. No good.

So I decided to see how the other half lives by taking one of our office iMacs and configuring it for myself. Thanks to the built-in Migration Assistant

The iMac: a computer I'm not tempted to whip out on vacation.

program for Macs, moving my data/programs/settings over was a snap. Mainly, the rough part was getting used to not having a computer available to me always. It meant that suddenly, I’d have to do a lot more at my desk within work hours: syncing my phone, serious emails processing, light design, web updates, some social media stuff, etc. Moreover, I’d have to think to do that stuff in advance.

Much of this Off Switch businesses is less about rejecting technology and more about relegating perfectly fine technology into what I consider to be appropriate parts and amounts of my day. Jettisoning my beloved laptop was definitely a big part of that change. After establishing some new parameters for my use of digital communication, scrapping the laptop was simply the perfect follow-up to ditching the iPhone. And I haven’t missed it.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that there have been repercussions to being without a laptop. Sure, there are some random tasks that I can no longer conveniently do at home or out and about, but mainly it’s keeping up with communication. Since I am sending less, I am getting less, but the issue is that by only doing email and other tasks at my desk, it can get overwhelming since most people are emailing day and night. What I’m finding is that it is forcing me to 1) let go when I am not at my desk and 2) make better use of my time and tasks when I am doing email.

I’ll get into this in a future post, but one gadget I did buy since I stopped using my iPhone and sold my MacBook (my wife has a laptop, but I rarely use it) is an iPad. It’s limits are what I love about it as well as it’s uni-tasking nature. My main bad habit to break is my impulse to grab it on the way out the door they way I always did with my laptop or smartphone. Say what you will, the iPad is just the right thing for slowing down, focusing, and having a more leisurely experience with technology. And since Mac laptops retain a good bit of value, the selling price covered the iPad and accessories!

With a literal weight off my shoulders, I am finding myself less burdened with the implications of having access to everything all the time. I’m embracing the limits and shrugging about the rest of it. For me, I’m accepting that there is a price associated with that particular trade-off and that I was due a refund.

Comments on: "Banishing the computer back to the desk" (5)

  1. Banishing the computer back to the desk « The Off Switch…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. I don’t follow many blogs… in fact this is the first one! I love the fact that you are doing what most people may think about in the back of their mind. I didn’t realize how caught up in it until I went on vacation to a place that didn’t have access to anything. After 2 weeks I felt like I was missing out on life by being tied to my phone and laptop.

    Great job, keep the posts coming!

    • Thanks Josh! It’s not easy to head in the other direction, but it has been so gratifying that I have no doubts that it is the right move for me. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting about how these initial changes have inspired even more in other aspects of my life. Keep in touch.

  3. […] As chronicled in previous posts, I have ditched the smartphone in favor of a much dumber one and sold the laptop so the desktop at work is my only proper computer. As intended, I now no longer have emails and notices buzzing in my pocket or my entire work life […]

  4. […] began looking outward and inward, I could feel that more changes were coming beyond ditching the laptop and smart phone. I knew that once I shed the omnipresent, omnipresent gadgets I would be suddenly […]

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