Households used to have a TV in the lounge, and maybe a communal PC in the study, with a single landline telephone in the hall.
Nowadays, we have TVs with Blu-ray players, digital television decoders and games consoles hooked up to them, surround-sound audio systems with speakers in every corner of the room, smaller TVs in every other room of the house, PCs, laptops, notebooks and tablets, cordless landlines and mobile phones, and a host of other, smaller gadgetry that eats away at our free time on a daily basis.
Many people now spend the vast majority of their waking minutes looking at a screen – and if you’d like to make time to stop and smell the roses, here’s how.
It was a sunny summer’s day, as I glanced out of the window, that I realized I was trapped in a technological dungeon: a laptop on my knee, a Smartphone to one side of me, a tablet in the other, and the looming, ominous black screen of my switched-off television dominating one corner of my room.
The laptop was supposed to make me ‘free’, but I realized all it meant was that I could take my office with me everywhere, all of the time; my much more powerful PC sat untouched in my study, while I wasted time waiting for applications to load on a machine that was never intended for the kind of strain I put on it.
I came to a decision then and there: I would sell my unwanted laptop, go back to work in the study, and make sure that when I was away from the PC, I was genuinely enjoying my free time.
Within a week, I had backed up all of my most personal data - most of which were stored in the cloud anyway – and sent my once-beloved laptop away to a recycling site, where I hope it found a new owner to treasure it as much as I had done.
I now work in my study, on a PC that runs the programs I need much more quickly and reliably, and which allows me to truly leave work at the end of the day, rather than taking my job with me.
My tablet lives in my briefcase, and I generally use it only when I really need to work while travelling; it’s good enough to get the job done, but not good enough to lure me back into being an anytime, anywhere kind of worker.
Although I still have a Smartphone, it stays mostly in my pocket, except for when I need to make or take a call; and, of course, I still have a TV, but as I’m usually working in my studio, it’s no longer staring at me from the corner of the room, like it was in the lounge.
About Fred Davies
Friends have said my spur-of-the-moment decision to sell my unwanted laptop was akin to a digital mid-life crisis; I say I reclaimed my freedom, and now spend many more hours enjoying the sunshine, rather than trying to shield a reflective Smartphone or laptop screen from it.