Don’t think of limiting technology as deprivation. See what you gain when you turn off your tablet and put down your phone.
You, like most Americans, spend probably around 1,470 hours each year watching TV and nearly 400 hours on social media.
All in all, according to a study from the University of Pennsylvania, you spend 166 days each year glued to technology. Then there is the hundreds of dollars you spend monthly on your wifi, streaming services, TV plans and mobile device data plans (that doesn’t even count the amount you spend on your devices). According to Paul Greenberg, author of the forthcoming book iQuit: 50 Things to Do Instead, you could learn two languages, circumnavigate the globe on a bicycle, or visit your local representatives three times a week to advocate for voter reform.
Feeling inspired (or at least a bit guilty)? Here are four Colorado-centric feats that you can accomplish this year if you give up just a portion of your tech time.
Become a Homebrewer
Start by taking the two-hour Basic Homebrewing 101 class at Hops & Berries in Old Town Fort Collins. There you’ll learn the foundational principles of brewing beer at home, as well as cleaning and sanitation. While you are there, get your gear and ingredients and head home to start brewing. All in all, your first batch should take you less than 10 hours of active time spread over several weeks, including cleaning and bottling—less than one percent of the time you will spend online this year.
Learn to Ski
For those who are not skilled on the slopes, this winter sport is a noble pursuit. It builds strength, stamina and quads of steel. You’ll need some professional help before you feel comfortable on a black diamond, though. “Conventional wisdom in most professional ski and ride schools is that first-time guests should plan to complete at least three lessons,” says Kathryn Robinson, communications coordinator for Colorado Ski Country USA. “Three days of professional instruction on the slopes is enough time to get comfortable enough to ski or ride on most beginner trails.” Though, she adds, some people take a little longer, potentially needing six or seven lessons to learn the basics as well as safety protocols. “Being driven to learn and keeping a positive attitude can accelerate any new skier or rider’s turnaround time,” she says. Then put all the knowledge into action with regular trips up I-70. All in all, you will need to swap about 10 to 20 percent of your meme-sharing time for skiing.
Train for a 10K
You’ve spent plenty of time watching #fitspiration videos on Instagram, you binge Netflix while on the elliptical at the gym and you occasionally practice your Warrior One pose while watching a yoga guru on YouTube. That’s multitasking in the modern world. Right? We suggest you put down your device to accomplish an athletic goal you once thought outside your abilities—a 10K. Start by signing up for Running Revolution’s beginner training course, which will help you get ready for a 5K. “Our idea is to get beginners trained up enough to run a 5K first and then to graduate to our regular program in order to progress them to the next level,” says Ewen North, head coach and founder of Running Revolution, a NoCo-based running club That first step will take just about two to four hours a week for nine weeks. From there, Running Revolution offers a 10K/half marathon program that gives the beginner runner the tools and support to complete a longer race. All in all, North estimates that you’ll need to dedicate about 60 hours, or 12 percent of your tech time, to training throughout spring and summer to tackle this goal. Oops, we mean #goals.
Climb Colorado’s 14ers
Don’t just detox from technology—do something incredible. Something that will forever give you bragging rights and impress even the most outdoorsy Coloradan. Take a summer to tackle all of Colorado’s peaks that top out at over 14,000 feet. What else do you have going on now that you’ve abandoned your Instagram followers? In 2015, Andrew Hamilton set a world record for climbing all of Colorado’s 58 14ers in nine days, 21 hours and 51 minutes consecutively. We know you’re not trying to break any records, so give yourself a few months to tackle as many as you can. Even if you tackle one 14er a weekend through July, August and early September, you’ll still give yourself plenty of time to binge watch every episode of Game of Thrones.
A word on the naysayers: “Tech is unavoidable.” “What about all the benefits from smartphones?” “Why judge!” “This is impractical.” “I don’t have time.” Just remember: Math doesn’t lie. The time you spend checking email, scrolling through social media and streaming stuff adds up big, and science tells us is contributing to our sense of social isolation and anxiety. It’s unlikely we’re going to chuck our tablets and phones 100 percent, but we can make a conscious effort to reclaim some of these hours (especially the aimless, scrolling ones) to do things that make us feel happy, active and 100 percent alive.