NEED A DIGITAL DETOX? BEFORE YOU TURN OFF YOUR PHONE, READ THIS
WNW Members #5795 Brittany Poole and #5695 Todd Grinham know as well as anyone how difficult it is to maintain a healthy work/life balance in such a technology-dependent world. As a creative couple (they're getting married next year!), the distinction between work and life sometimes blurs even further. Knowing they were not alone in feeling this, they have created Hush, "a curated database of the world's best destinations for a digital detox."
In detailing the importance of unplugging, Todd tell us, "Every time we divert our attention, it’s like opening a new tab in your brain. And instead of closing each tab and moving onto another, our brain just works on them simultaneously in our subconscious. We’re using our focus and brain chemicals at unsustainable rates." Brittany adds, "There’s a fantastic boredom we experienced as kids that allowed for creativity and adventure. I think on a Hush vacation, people are able to tap into those feelings again."
If you're in need of a digital detox (you are), check out some of these awe-inspiring destinations that can
recharge your battery rekindle your fire.
What’s each of your backgrounds? Curious how your professional trajectory led you here.
We’ve both been in the business about 5-7 years and went freelance in January. Before that, we worked a couple years in the UK. They have a much more realistic work/life balance in place, which did great things for our brains. But technology was still creating a lot of anxiety in our lives. Essentially, Hush was a resource we tried to find and couldn’t. So we decided to make it ourselves.
How did you come up with the idea?
BRITTANY: When I first got into the business, I was sleeping with a Blackberry on my pillow. Then, we moved to a country where people don't take their laptops home at night. The feeling was pretty liberating. So we started replicating it when we traveled, opting out of expensive international data plans, etc. You forget that you can just ask people stuff. Sometimes, asking a stranger for recommendations can lead to the best meal of your life. Or dark alleys. Be careful out there.
TODD: We kept reading about CEOs taking digital detoxes and boasting about how great it was. But it seemed reserved for those who can afford to take off a month. Or who can hire someone to answer email for them. It felt like a necessity that everyone deserved, even if it's just for a weekend.
How’d you team up/what’s your relationship?
We’re actually a couple and a creative team. We met at CP+B in Boulder and started dating. And after a few years working with other partners, we realized working together was more efficient and more fun for us. In fact, we like it so much we’re getting married next year.
Why does digital detox resonate so deeply?
TODD: We’re all overworked and overstimulated. There are some fascinating new studies on human attention that prove multitasking is basically a myth. I could nerd out on this for days. But in short, every time we divert our attention, it’s like opening a new tab in your brain. And instead of closing each tab and moving onto another, our brain just works on them simultaneously in our subconscious. We’re using our focus and brain chemicals at unsustainable rates. A detox closes those brain tabs and lets your mind refocus and recharge to its natural, optimal state. That’s something everyone can benefit from, in all areas of their lives.
BRITTANY: I think, by nature, people know something’s amiss. Most people can remember a time when you unplugged the landline for dinner. If you were going to meet someone at the mall, there was something so great about knowing they would just be there… eventually. No need to text. And there’s a nostalgia for that time. There’s a fantastic boredom we experienced as kids that allowed for creativity and adventure. I think on a Hush vacation, people are able to tap into those feelings again.
When unplugging, what have you learned about yourself? What have been the biggest benefit?
TODD: In general I just feel calm. My anxiety goes down. The day slows down. Letting a few days of social media go by without looking feels like a victory. You think you’ll go back and scroll through it all, but you don’t. Then, you realize it’s not that important anyhow. Eventually, those feelings creep into the days you’re not detoxing too.
BRITTANY: When we moved home, we spent some time just visiting family, away from technology. One surprising thing for me was, in those first few weeks I got overwhelmed thinking about my family. How much I had missed them. How much I care for them. It sounds crazy, but I think when we busy ourselves with distractions all day, we don’t always let those deeper feelings bubble up. So not every aspect of unplugging is pleasant. But it’s important stuff. To me, it’s important to check in with the real state of my own shit.
Are you doing this full-time?
We’re still freelancing during the day and working during the nights and weekends.
Do you have advice about how to balance your day job with side projects?
BRITTANY: Don’t lie to yourself. We've wasted a lot of time and energy feeling guilty about not completing some ambitious daily goals. But we’ve found hating on ourselves for not getting it all done can really halt momentum. So we try to be more honest now about what’s possible in one day or one week. And when we hit those more realistic targets, it really energizes us for the next thing.
We also took several weeks off completely to focus on Hush. And the free time (with no income) was pretty scary and motivating. I think sometimes you have to be a little terrified to really get things moving.
TODD: When you’re finished with your day job and you transition to a side project, pick the task you’re most excited about. That will be the thing that drives you to work late into the night. The boring stuff will just make you want to give up and watch Netflix.
How do you source the destination? Do you go to all of them?
We’ve been to several of the destinations and hope to eventually visit them all. The irony is, finding a digital detox takes a ton of online research. It’s a lot of googling, referencing cell service maps, and calling places to ask about their connectivity. We feel like we’re doing the digital dirt work, so other people don’t have to. We also only list destinations where we, ourselves, would want to spend a week.
How will you make money?
TODD: This is just the first phase of our plan to disconnect from society completely. Our goal is a self-sustained, blue zone utopia, that eliminates money by trading only crops, karma, and poems.
Actually, we’re in the process of partnering with destinations to help create detox programs for guests. We also have some analog detox products in the works that we’ll be selling on the site. Down the road, we hope to be an online booking agent for the destinations too ( i.e. commissions).
Plans for the future?
In the immediate future, we want to keep adding and refining destinations. We’re hoping to cover most of the planet, but still be a closely curated list. We don’t want it to become so big that it’s no longer a shortcut for people.
In building this, what has been the…
...Most surprising thing?
TODD: Sometimes the best places have the most outdated websites. If business is good, the owners don’t see a reason to update. But you shouldn’t let that scare you off.
Momentum. One of us works better after a little morning coffee. One of us works better nights and weekends. When you're a duo, aligning creative energy can be tough. So we've both had to take turns pushing the project along.
The response. It’s found a connection with a lot of our friends. People seem to need this. Also, working on a brand of your own and having complete control is ideal. It makes us happier, better creatives at our day jobs too.
We built the entire site ourselves. It is possible to do a lot of things yourself these days without spending money. It just costs you time. So it’s about weighing the value of your own time versus what you’re after.