In the past week alone, I’ve had three people ask me to recommend an exercise app for their phone. In response, I jokingly tweeted that the best app is whatever gets you to put your phone away. And while I was clearly poking fun at the question, there is some truth to my response. Perhaps I am too old school for my own good, but I’m big believer in putting away all handheld devices when it comes time to train.Â
More and more people are spending an exorbitant amount of time glued to their phones. Ample research suggests that the average person spends several hours each day staring at an electronic device. As a result, many people find themselves struggling to accomplish anything worthwhile despite the fact that they always seem busy.
These people essentially live in a reactive state as opposed to one that is productive. Whenever their phone pings a notification, the fingers go scrambling to see what it is. The temptation is too great to wait until later.
Consequently, it has become increasingly rare for some people to engage in continuous, uninterrupted work. Whether it is social media, emails, or texts, the next distraction is never more than a few minutes away. With that in mind, I am a big believer in putting my phone down whenever it is time to accomplish some real work.
Although I host a website that aids my offline business, I am much more productive when I limit the frequency at which I engage in online communications. The best thing I ever did was to set aside specific times to respond to emails and social media inquiries. Doing so allows me to not only perform better work offline, but I’m also more focused when responding to incoming questions. I’m not doing five things at once and quickly responding to an email in the middle of something else. Instead, I’ve dedicated a specific time to respond to incoming questions.
Relevance to Exercise
If I can improve my business productivity by minimizing distractions, it goes without saying that similar improvements can be realized by exercising without distractions. Speaking as a coach, I have absolutely no tolerance for an athlete who feels the need to check his phone in the middle of a practice or workout. Time spent staring at the screen almost always indicates a lack of focus. And if you aren’t focused, you aren’t getting the most out of your training.
Furthermore, dedicating time to a digital detox isn’t just about focus. I firmly believe that it is beneficial (physically and mentally) to enjoy the world around you without interference from an electronic device. There is so much more to living than what can be seen or experienced through a screen.
Those who disagree almost certainly grew up in a different world from what I experienced as a kid. Speaking as someone who was born in the 1970s, I am extremely thankful that I grew up without the Internet. We never once felt deprived simply because we weren’t connected through electronics. It was much more fun to get outside and enjoy the world around us without being distracted by technology. Even the fanciest Instagram filter cannot compare to what can be captured and experienced with your own two eyes.
In summary, I highly recommend that you dedicate a portion of each day to a digital detox. Don’t become a slave to your handheld device. Instead, make a conscious effort to enjoy the world around you. Activity separating yourself from the digital world is time well spent, and the time that you spend exercising provides an ideal opportunity. Use that time to focus on yourself without distractions from the outside world. Whatever is going on in cyberspace can wait until you are done.
“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” – Seneca