Three years ago, I posted my first entry here at The Off Switch as I endeavored to take back my autonomy from technology. In the many posts and years since, I’ve discovered a lot about myself. In most respects, the premise worked way better than I anticipated—bringing me peace and balance in ways I hadn’t imagined. But in others, my own bad habits have still found a way to pull me in.
When I think back to the summer of 2010, I can remember clearly my state of mind. Things were not going well in my life, and a common thread through my problems was a constant escape into my phone or laptop for work and for leisure. Running a small PR and design agency in a choppy economy with two dozen clients means that a few times a day, there’s a pressing matter for someone. And whether I got that message at 6:30a or 11:30p, I was apt to fall into the abyss.
The weeks that led to the changes first chronicled here are hazy, but I do remember a sense of excitement as I researched and pondered ways to cut way back. Previous to my business life, I was a dreamer who did a lot of camping and home recording. I was a person who that rejected cell phones and work norms, so I was as surprised as anyone that I gradually became one of the most wired people I knew. Perhaps that’s why I longed to get back to a place with more balance and less noise.
So, what can I say about the past three years that the intervening blog posts don’t already detail? Perhaps that it has been way easier and more rewarding than I thought. Also, many of the people closest to me are still agitated by the limits, probably because its an inconvenience to them. But it rarely interferes with work—or life. Honestly, while I’ve gotten accustomed to the few things I miss like GPS and the ability to check on an urgent thing… I still wish for them a lot of the time. And I know it would be easy to go back or even cede a few of the boundaries I’ve set. But I know that slippery slope would give way to tons of bad habits I want no part of. Plus, I enjoy the challenge.
One other thing. When I started all of this, I thought that maybe I’d lose some clients or other business opportunities as people in my line of work are expected to be always on. I was a little nervous, but ready. As it turns out, we’re busier than ever. While I can’t say that it’s because I’m more rested and balanced, I will say that I approach work most days ready to rumble and with some perspective. I think it’s because I’m not constantly on, but who knows.
As for how long I’ll continue, who is to say?! I generally tend to go against norm and stubbornly stay there, so this may be a permanent. Sure, I’ll get a newER phone when this one craps out and I may adapt my rules over time, but I don’t see myself ever giving in to all again. I like myself better when I’m not staring into a screen.