By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Unplugging efforts still a work in progress

It’s been two months since I wrote about “digital balance” in this space — efforts to offset excess attention given to the Internet, cell phones, video games, social media and the like.

As someone with a few of my own digital addictions, I launched a “notes-to-self” process to help “unplug” from some of the email and online research activities that take too much of my time. Here’s a quick update on my progress:

Not exactly a raging success; not yet giving up.

It should be easy: Turn off the computer and throw away the smart phone. But in my line of work, total abstinence is not an option. Even targeted behavior modification — as with all addictions — is easier said than done.

My favorite story about reducing email time came from a nonprofit manager who scheduled two hours every Friday to handle all his email from the week. He told people to give him a call if they needed something sooner.

In physical time, it works. I’ve learned that fact on a few return flights from a week in places with no email access — it’s amazing how many messages can be quickly answered, or easily discarded, in just two hours.

For me — lately, at least — too many fast timelines for critical communications make email an all-day continuum. Part of that ongoing addiction is an interest in having written records to augment memory and maintain accuracy for future communications.

On the other hand, I’ve recently blocked about 900 email addresses from displaying messages on my computer. Many are obvious spam messages that will return with slightly different sender addresses, but for unwanted promos from companies — since hitting the “Unsubscribe” button might just confirm that the message got through — I now open the emails and tag the addresses as “Blocked.”

Internet research remains a compulsion. I recently spent two hours scanning user reviews of cappuccino machines, coming away more confused than when I started. All I could say is, that wouldn’t have happened if Taylor-Dale Hardware was still open across the street.

Still, over the years, online research on things not readily available in town has produced some great product-finds, so at best I’ll just try to moderate that digital activity.

So, it’s all a work in progress, including plans to delve into digital addictions far beyond my own. Readers wanting to add their own comments about digital balance can find an invitation at www.newsregister.com/unplug.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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