According to research, you make about 35,000 decisions every day. I’m not joking. 35,000 decisions every single day.
Now, that's only including collective decisions—decisions you make with others. Another study from Cornell says you make over 225 decisions daily on food alone.
That’s a lot of decisions.
These decisions can seem harmless, but they have some surprisingly significant effects on your mental health and the trajectory of your business. Not only can they distract you from the things in life that really matter, like family or your business, but they can also seriously impact your mental health.
Feeling overwhelmed yet?
If you are, you’re not alone. Thousands of business owners are struggling to survive under the weight of the decisions they have to make every day—and how those decisions could impact others.
As a result, digital detoxes have gained popularity as a way for you to regain control of your life, make decisions with clarity and confidence, and just take a break from all the noise we’re constantly surrounded by.
A digital detox is exactly what it sounds like: a period of time where you separate yourself from all technology. It can be for an hour or a week. The choice is entirely up to you.
What really matters is that you’re physically and mentally separated from the technology that constantly reminds us of the choices we need to make. And as someone who personally follows digital detoxes, I can attest to how effective they are.
I started my first digital detox in 2019, back when the only place we saw pandemics was the movies. And that decision completely changed my life. No exaggeration.
Below, I’m going to share the events that lead up to my digital detox, what the experience was like, why every business owner should make digital detoxes a weekly priority, and how to keep it up when all you want to do is scroll through Instagram.
What Does a Digital Detox Look Like?
A couple of years ago, I faced a monumental decision that would have completely changed my life. If I had said yes, you wouldn’t be reading this article right now.In 2019, a French-based firm approached me. They wanted to buy my company—and they were willing to pay a lot for it. They brought Mel and me out to France, wine and dined us, and handed over the paperwork.
And I really, really wanted to sign.
It wasn’t just about the money. I loved these guys. They were a great company. I knew they would treat it well, and without my business, I could have more freedom to pursue other dreams.
I met with my lawyer to talk through the contract. As he was pouring over the details, he suddenly stopped. He looked up at me and said, “Will, are you sure you want to do this?”
In that moment, clarity hit me like a truck. I realized how clouded my thinking was and how short-sighted I had been. The offer went from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I had to take to a rash, impulsive decision that I’d live to regret.
The thought that I was so close to making a decision in that clouded state scared me. It could happen again, and if it did, what would the damage be?
So I met with Steve August of Steve August Coaching to give this digital detox thing a try. Along with a small group of CEOs, I flew up to Portland and went straight to the woods. Steve had rented a house near Columbia Gorge, a beautiful part of the country that I’d never seen before.
As soon as we get in the car, he says, “Ok, everybody, give me your phones.” All of us dropped our phones into a sealed container, where they would stay the entire trip. In the case of emergencies, Steve had a phone we could use to contact family. But other than that, we were entirely shut off from the digital world.
So over the course of the first two days, we went hiking, we did whitewater rafting. And at nighttime, we would sit outside this beautiful house and look at the night sky. Seeing the sky like that, you realize that you’re just a small part of a much bigger universe. It puts everything into perspective.
On days three and four, we reconnected as a group. We did some activities and journaled. The idea was: now that we had seen the expansiveness of the world and brainstormed ideas about our life and business, now we could make something of those thoughts.
And in that moment, I decided to form Mindstate Group. All because of one digital detox.
The Benefits of a Digital Detox
I know. Separating yourself from social media, emails, phone calls, and texts can be a huge inconvenience. It can also make you feel anxious.
What if something happens when you’re offline? What if fires start in your business? What if yet another pandemic hits and you can’t head to the nearest grocery store to stock up on toilet paper?
But even for an hour, a digital detox is well worth the temporary inconvenience. And the more you do it, the less of a deal it becomes.
Here are the biggest benefits business owners can experience from a digital detox:
1. Less Stress
It’s a fact. The more distractions you have in your life, the more stress you’ll experience on a daily basis.
A recent study found that high-performing schools have higher rates of behavioral and mental health problems than the norm. Why? More pressure to achieve better grades, more extra-curricular activities, and more stress.
It’s interesting to note that the affluent kids from this study had the same levels of anxiety, depression, and behavioral problems as students suffering from poverty.
Imagine the amount of distraction you have a social media every day. You go into Facebook or Instagram or TikTok to kill a few minutes. Then, suddenly, you go down a rabbit hole. Two hours later, you’ve lost time and you’re subconsciously comparing yourself to the seemingly perfect lives on the other side of the screen.
While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to connect to friends and family members who live out of state, we have to admit that we spend more time on social media watching cat videos than connecting with others.
2. Clearer Thinking
We tend to value things more in the present than we do in the future. This is called hyperbolic discounting, and it’s a cognitive bias most of us aren’t even aware of.
Think about the lottery. When most people win, they want the money right away—even if it’s a smaller amount than the alternative. Why? Because the value of a big lump sum of money now feels more immediate. The rewards are immediate.
So you are genetically designed to focus more on the immediate needs. It all goes back to our ancestors, who had to focus on the “right now” in order to survive.
Nature in itself, the vastness and the feeling of awe it provides, makes you reflect on your part in a much broader world. It gives you perspective on your life and your business—a perspective that is impossible to achieve when you’re digitally distracted.
I felt this firsthand when I did my detox, staring up at the stars at night or marveling at a waterfall. I'm not an environmentalist guy in the slightest. I like the city. It’s where I feel most at home.
So I didn't believe nature would provide the same benefits to me as it did to others...until I actually did it. And once I did it, I was hooked. I instantly realized how something as simple as water falling over rocks or balls of gas millions of miles away can impact your thinking on a deeper level.
3. More Creativity
I'm sure you’ve heard it time and time again. “Go take a walk.”It seems to be everyone’s answer for all kinds of mental challenges, be it writer’s block or a fight with your spouse or a huge decision that could change everything.
To be honest, I didn’t know this saying was actually based in science. I always thought it was something people just said. Well, there's actually science behind the impact of nature on your creativity.
Watch the video below to learn about one study that demonstrated the influence nature has on our creativity.
If you’re a city dweller like me, going for a walk isn’t as easy as stepping out of your front door. You might have to drive to a park or walk a good mile before you see some grass. But next time you start to feel creatively stunted, make nature a priority. You might be surprised by the results.
4. Greater Long-Term Thinking
During my digital detox week with Steve, we spent the last two days focused on turning our thoughts into something tangible. Normally, this would be a highly stressful task—especially if you’re a visionary like I am. Planning out every detail can be overwhelming.
But on this specific day, something was different. I had already thought through many of the details during my time in nature. Things just came to me effortlessly. So the actual task of planning out how to turn Mindstates Group into a company wasn’t half as stressful as it would have been otherwise.
When you have a chance to gain perspective on life, it’s easier to see the forest for the trees. You can take time to focus on what really matters and ensure that the choices you make align with your vision for the future.
How to Maintain Those Benefits After Your Detox Is Over
The problem with doing a detox is maintaining it. We all know those mountaintop experiences don’t stay with us. They become watered down as time goes by, and within a few months, you’ll be right back to where you started.
So how can you keep the benefits you experience in a digital detox?
It starts with a simple goal. For me, it was to schedule out a daily detox at 8:00 p.m. I wanted to turn off all my emails, put my phone away, and stop thinking about my to dos for tomorrow. And I wanted to do this every night until I went to sleep, so I could end the day with the clarity and peace I had under the Portland night sky.
After you have identified your goal, you need to identify your aspirational goal. A goal alone isn’t enough because it requires you to rely on willpower to stick to it. Willpower is very difficult to maintain.
You’ve probably experienced that yourself. You start off the week saying, “I'm going to go to the gym,” then you’re tired or hungry and you skip it entirely.
Willpower fades. It’s unreliable.
To make the goal last, you have to marry that goal with what drives you. With your motivation. One of the nine motivations that we discuss in Marketing to Mindstates.
I did this for myself when I made the decision to do a daily digital detox. I knew I needed to uncover the real reason why I want to be in the moment. Otherwise, I’d go right back to checking emails and scrolling through Facebook.
And in that, I came up with the reason why it's important for me to shut off everything at eight o'clock. It’s because I have this aspirational goal of being present in the moment.
I wanted to feel captivated, excited, and absorbed in an activity fully absorbed. My mindstate was engagement.
Because I identified that mindstate and kept that in my mind every night, I have successfully stuck to a daily detox for two years. And it’s helped me maintain clarity, stay creative, and think about the future.
Don’t Let Distractions Stunt Your Business’s Growth
Distractions don’t just suck up your attention. They can cause you to make decisions that you’ll regret in the future and prevent your business from being all that it could be.
Digital detoxes are a simple but effective way to help you retain your creativity, gain a new sense of perspective, stay future-ready, and reduce stress. It’s well worth the hour a day, I can attest to that.
And mindstates won’t just allow you to stick to your digital detox. They’ll also help you attract more customers and close more deals.
In the Mindstate Marketing Masterclass, I’ll walk you through the process of applying mindstates to your marketing, so you can gain a consistent revenue stream and grow your business.
And if you liked these clips and want to watch the full live stream episode, click here.