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A Digital Fast

Question: Which of the following lights up the “reward center” of the brain?

a) Posting something about yourself on Facebook or Twitter

Daily wiring schedule

b) Having Sex

c) Eating food

d) Earning Money

e) All of the above

Answer: E

According to a recent Harvard University study, people will turn down money in order to stay at the center of conversation on Facebook or Twitter. And the greater the online population paying attention to the YOU-station, the greater the brain responds. Move over Crack. It appears social networking has become the hot new addiction.

But we already knew that.

And while we can try to wean ourselves, sometimes we have no choice. My friend Brad texted me the other day from Chicago to say his Internet was down for 12 hours. The same day my sister Meredith texted to say she would be camping in the deep woods of Maine and would be out of reach for the weekend since there was no cell reception (or indoor plumbing.) I spent my Memorial Day weekend at my folks’ house on Cape Cod and struggled being “offline” since my dad forgot the password to the wireless router.

So what were the results of our digital time-out? Brad reported he was more productive than ever; Meredith was able to decompress from her demanding course schedule, and I organized all the closets in the house. And during closet six, I got to thinking: We’re always scrambling for more time in our busy days while there never seems to be enough time for sleep. How can we possibly add a few more hours to the 24 we now have?

By organizing them better.

Just like weeding out what’s not being worn in our closets, we can do the same by weeding out our digital surplus. And like any organizing job, it’s best to be approached with baby steps. Start with an hour. One hour of not checking texts, emails or Facebook. One hour. Then try two. Maybe you shut off just the notifications. If your reaction is anything like mine, you’ll be amazed how productive that uninterrupted time will be. This from a true digital believer. These little steps may be hard at first, but it’s surprising how much time you gain when you delete.

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