Happy New Year!  2010 is off to an interesting start for me.  A day before New Year’s Eve, I happened to see a tweet by John Mayer proposing a week long hiatus from Twitter, Facebook, texting and mobile e-mail.  When I first saw the tweet, I thought of all the reasons I couldn’t partake but it was appealing to me.  In fact, I know that I tweeted a half-hearted committed response… I’d link to it on Twitter for you but… I’m off Twitter this week.

Turns out, I decided to jump right in with both feet on January 1st.  I didn’t even get out any last Happy New Year tweets and text messages.  My cousin sent me a text message early on New Year’s day, long before the cut off time, and I didn’t reply via text.  I was already in digital cleanse mode.

It’s been an interesting experience so far but I guess I should outline my current digital habits for you so you can judge for yourself whether or not I’ll gain any benefit from disconnecting for a while:

- My family communicates by text message: My brother’s and sister’s text me exclusively.  I rarely receive calls from them… it’s always a text message.  If I don’t reply to their text message, they send me a message on Facebook or IM me on Yahoo or MSN.

- I Tweet / Facebook for work: Clients communicate with me via DM on Twitter.  I also do brand monitoring on Twitter.  So I’m changing my game plan for the week.  Any tweets initiated by me will obviously not go out.  Any DM’s that are sent to me will be replied to via regular e-mail or Instant Message (since that oddly isn’t part of the restricted activities) or phone.  And brand monitoring… I’ll still keep an eye on it via e-mail.  I follow certain keywords and receive e-mail notifications so while it will be a little challenging to get used to a different way of thinking, it’s only for 7 days and three of those were the Holiday Weekend.  I made it through my first full work day without minimal impact.

- My extended family and friends stay in touch via Facebook: I have friends all over the world and instead of adding them to my own e-mail client, I keep in touch with them via Facebook.  I like being able to keep up on their lives and see pictures and connect with them almost instantly.  They’ll still be there at the end of the Cleanse and I can have a great time catching up with them when I’m back.

So all in all, I thought the digital cleanse was going to be a little more challenging to stick to.  I think it would have been had the guidelines banned the use of e-mail from desktop or laptop computers or banned Instant Messaging.  Or even if the definition of social networking sites included blogs (of which I have several that I update frequently and which I’m choosing to NOT include in the restricted sites).  And I’m bending the rules a bit by continuing to monitor my brand – though I’m not visiting Twitter to do so and am relying on e-mail to do the bulk of the monitoring for me.  Had any of those been part of the guidelines, then I may have found it a little harder to disconnect.  As it stands, I haven’t missed it as much as I thought I would and it’s nice to have a little less “noise” clamoring for my attention.

If you would like to participate in the Cleanse yourself, here are the guidelines as posted by John Mayer on his blog:

The cleanse will begin at 9am on January 1. This gives everyone a chance to text and tweet their new year’s well wishes, and theoretically begins upon waking up the morning of January 1. The cleanse will end at 9am on January 8.

Guidelines:

*email only from laptop or desktop computers
*cell phones can only be used to make calls, and no text messages or e-mails are allowed – if you receive a text, you must reply in voice over the phone. E-mails must be returned from a laptop or desktop computer.
*no use of Twitter or any other social networking site – this includes reading as well as posting.
*no visiting of any entertainment or gossip sites. (No need to detail which ones – you know what they are.)

If you do participate, be sure to drop me a line below and let me know how it works out for you, whether you found it difficult or challenging or whether it was a welcome change.  So far, four days into the digital cleanse, I’m finding it a welcome change.  I’ll let you know on the flip side whether I still feel that way. :-)