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Turning Off the Screens – How to Increase Productivity and Become Less of a Consumer

Stepping away from the electronic devices can help you increase productivity and enjoy a fuller life. Read on to learn how.

Power Down to Increase Productivity
Power Down to Increase Productivity image courtesy of Pixabay

The wealth of available technology in our world today has created a double-edged sword swaying ominously over-top the heads of each and every one of us.

On one hand, the advances that we have seen in computing and connectivity in just the last ten years, have made the world smaller and afforded more opportunity for efficiency as well as creativity and industry. However, on the other, less attractive hand, the increase in efficiency and the ease with which tasks are able to be completed has left us with more free-time than men and women have ever had before.

Unfortunately, more often than not, we are slothful in our use of that time and are more and more becoming consumers rather than producers. While binding ourselves to screens may not seem harmful at first, there are long term negative effects like health risks, social coping, focusing issues, and attention problems that mount in those who are raised around, or spend most of their time around screens. Let us quickly look at a few simple techniques to add to your thinking and acting in order to increase our human productivity and decrease our cultural consumption.

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Discover the World When You Open a Book
Discover the World When You Open a Book image courtesy of Pixabay

Benjamin Franklin attributes nearly all of his success to the fact that he was relentless in self-education and reading. As you find yourself reaching for your phone or computer begin to implement having the conscious thought of ‘why?’ Ask yourself if reaching for an active screen is bettering you or those around you; are you getting smarter by wasting ten minutes of every hour on your phone looking at nothing important or necessary?

The average person reads 200 words per minute, if you were to reach for a book every time that you reached for your phone to scroll through social media updates, throughout the course of the day you would be able to read 8-10,000 words (to give you some perspective – the Iliad is around 200,000 words). There was once a time where nearly all entertainment was reading or storytelling and we used to be more personable, relatable, and educated because of it. Avoid the temptation to waste time inactively scrolling through a screen and instead train your brain and its focus to receive knowledge through the text of your choosing.

For some examples of good places to start consider:
His Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
Fruits of Solitude by William Penn
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman

Resolve to Learn One Thing a Week and Practice It

The fact that every problem we have has a solution just a phone call or short drive away has allowed for an ease of life that results in taking less personal responsibility. Think about this scenario as an example: You need to power-wash your deck, you have decided not to hire out for the job but upon trying to start your power-washer you find that it wont turn over as old gas has gunked up the carburetor. If you had taken the time previously to patiently read, study, focus, and practice then cleaning the carb would be an easy two-hour job and you would be back to the project before noon. However, you never picked up the trade of repair and instead take it to the small engine shop down the road where they tell you they will have it back to you tomorrow, rendering your whole Saturday now free which you choose to spend with a six-pack and Netflix.

Now, while I understand that this example may inspire a bit of eye-rolling at how hyperbolically and perfectly it illustrates my point, it is not far off for the way in which most of us find ourselves with free time – by spreading our responsibilities to others – thus: Consuming. A great way to break this habit pattern is to seek new knowledge from relationships with the older generation or others more experienced. There is no shame in not knowing how to do something that you have never been taught!

Learn Something New
Learn Something New image courtesy of Pixabay

If you are a computer guy and engines give you fear – that is okay! Seek someone out who can help share their knowledge and experience in order to better prepare you to handle your own fix the next time. It is in this communion, coming together, sharing of knowledge and kinship that cultures survive and prosper and give more than they take and increase their efficiency.

Each week, consider something that you don’t know how to do and resolve to educate yourself and practice it ten-twenty minutes a week instead of spending time in front of electronics. If it takes more than a week then great!

For some examples of where to start consider

Learning to tie different knots
Celestial Navigation
Fire Starting
Deep Breathing Techniques

There is no bad place to get started in spending less time on our phones and computers and more time in the vast array of experiences that the world has to offer. Worldly, hands-on education inspires creativity and thus leads to efficiency and the moving forward of our culture.

If you are feeling your stomach tighten as you think about releasing some of the connection you have with your phone, try to undergo the challenge with a friend or buddy. Set some rules for phone use and also set aside a day where you come together to sit and talk about what you are reading or practicing; this will help you stay focused on being a producer and slowly slide away from the consumption!

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