Do you ever wish you could just unplug?
Do you feel overwhelmed and, perhaps, addicted to your smartphone, social media or the Internet -- or all three? Do you regularly wish you could just unplug, if you could just find the discipline to Put. Your. Phone. Down.
My story in yesterday's newspaper considered this topic from the perspective of some people who choose to take a "media fast", an "Internet Sabbath" or an "Internet Sabbatical." The idea has different names, for sure, but it's basically about setting time for yourself to unplug from digital life, slow down on the multi-tasking, and live in your physical reality, not a virtual one.
Gin Ferrara, a community manager at NewsTrust, was game enough to let me interview her for my story. She's an advocate of such media fasts. In fact, you can see her talking about her experience with the idea -- media free week -- in this video where she presented at a recent Ignite Baltimore event.
One area that I forgot to mention in my story (and I'm embarrassed for forgetting this) is the role that technology can actually play to help us better manage our relationship with technology -- does that make sense?
When people talk about unplugging, many mean they wish they could put down the work BlackBerry and not be reachable on the weekends by their bosses. When it came to smarter email management, I thought of Jared Goralnick. For my story, I interviewed Goralnick, founder and CEO of Awayfind, a tool that helps you get a handle on your email inbox. Basically, checking email can be a huge, compulsive time-suck. I probably check my email inbox a 100-200 times a day, but only a tiny fraction of that time am I receiving something I need to act on immediately. So Awayfind, a Made-in-Maryland company by the way, helps ferret out the important emails from the not-so-important ones.
"If you’re successful, you spend less time in your inbox," Goralnick said. "We’re a big fan of minimizing interruptions."
Personally, I think Goralnick is spot on. Lately, I've found myself feeling more refreshed and productive and focused when I'm working out of the office then while at the office. And then, it hit me. At the office, where I have MS Outlook, I'm constantly being distracted by email alerts that pop up (I have to change that setting), while outside the office, I don't have that distraction.
I probably get 300 emails a day. I can't keep up with them. About 90 percent is horrible spam. But I lose emails -- including ones from my bosses -- in the stream.
It's frustrating. And, by the end of the week, all I want to do is unplug.
Below is a picture of Gin and her husband, David Pepper, at home with Scrabble -- a game they play during their media free weeks.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech