Put Down the Digital Crack. Unplug Everyday for Clarity with Zenlock.

Like many plugged-in individuals navigating the now ubiquitously connected Information Age, I’ve suffered from digital overload. My previous corporate job required a smartphone on me at all times. Fealty to the office didn’t end on Friday. I was expected to respond to emails all weekend.

Like many subsumed by this always-on-we-never-close lifestyle, I crashed and burned. My stomach would ache every time I checked my screen, dreading the next message, the next virtual obligation. There was no relief. My home stopped being a place of refuge. I was invisibly, endlessly tethered to the network.

Part of the joy of dropping out of the rat race to start INK, my writing company, came from determining how and when I would be available: shutting down the matrix at designated times to establish boundaries. But what about others suffering digital burnout that can’t opt out so easily?

Enter Jeff Sada.

A visionary entrepreneur, Jeff takes the idea of digital detox to a new level with Zenlock, a unique device that temporarily shuts down all your screens.

Jeff’s intention is to return our homes to places of tranquility; true sanctuaries for rest. The inspiring idea behind the product is analogous to the health benefits of meditation. By unplugging for meaningful periods of time, we allow our minds to reset so that upon returning to real life and/or our screens, we are more balanced through conscious detachment.

I conducted the below interview with Jeff who proved to be a source of revelatory ideas grounded in common sense pragmatism. Enjoy.

Q: How did we get to the place where digital distraction is such a problem?

A: I grew up with TV, and then became hooked on computers when I was 10, but the nice thing was that when I left the house, the digital distractions stayed at home. Things started to really change after the iPhone came out. Now you have a supercomputer with endless opportunities literally in the palm of your hand. It’s not that technology is bad, it’s that we as humans are great at wasting time as it is.

Back in the day if I was out and about and had a random thought like “I wonder who got drafted before Michael Jordan?”, that thought would require some effort to find out the answer. If I really cared to find out, I’d have to write it down, and wait until I got home to answer it. If it was 1988, I’d probably have to plan a trip to the library. The thing is, that’s a question I’d never care to really pursue at a later time. Now, I can impulsively just pull out my phone and search it, going down a rabbit hole that really doesn’t serve me. The point is, most of our thoughts are not worth pursuing — but they’re easy to pursue with how accessible the information is.

The 80/20 Principle applies to our thoughts, that is, 20% of our thoughts produce 80% of the results in our life, so 4 out of 5 thoughts are not worth pursuing, and we have to have discipline with what we choose to pursue if we want to make any meaningful progress in our lives. The pace of things is moving too fast for our minds, and we just end up working on the wrong things.

But that’s only a part of the problem; the other part is having disturbances that take us out of the present moment. Our focus is much like that of how a car consumes fuel. City miles consume more gas because it’s constant stop and go, versus highway miles that are driving in the flow without needing to restart momentum. Each day we’re given a tank of gas, which is our focus, and by multitasking, we’re burning through our fuel much faster. My favorite Zen quote is “When eating eat, when walking walk.” Whatever you do, be completely in the moment until the completion of it, and then move on to the next task consciously.

The last part of the problem is how it’s so easy to use our digital devices as a means of avoidance. In order to grow, we must put ourselves on the edge of our comfort zone…And that is uncomfortable! It’s so much easier to avoid things by surfing the web, checking email, and doing other activities that aren’t fulfilling our purpose. I catch myself doing it all the time, and I’ve learned to stop and ask myself “OK, what am I avoiding right now?” But that’s only the first step of the equation, because now I’ve got to take action and do something about it, and getting away from the digital vortex once it has its pull on you is not easy!

Q: What is Zenlock exactly and how can it help others?

A: Zenlock is a tool to help keep the digital crack away long enough for us to regain perspective. As Lao Tzu said, “Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?”

It’s a super simple method. You take your digital devices, put them inside the Zenlock bag, zip the bag up, and set the time on Zenlock, which is essentially a time-controlled padlock. Place it in the bag, and it’ll stay locked until the timer hits zero.

It’s powerful because it gives your mind the space to breathe. Our greatest ideas don’t come when we’re working; they come when we’re resting! Albert Einstein would take a nap, ride a bike, or row his boat when he hit a wall. We all have our own activities that help us relax, recharge, and then go after our work with more clarity, but it’s really hard to do so with the temptation of our digital devices.

When I use Zenlock, I journal, read books, stretch, take naps, or enjoy a nice conversation with my partner. It gives me a chance to restore my sense of well-being and clarity. We all need that time to stop and reflect and remember why we’re doing all this work in the first place. It’s also been an incredible tool for helping me fall asleep by 10:30–11pm by Zenlocking at 9pm, which in turn makes the next day much more productive.

Q: What drew you to create this product in the first place?

A: I was getting to a point where there were far too many days where I did “A whole lot of nothing.” Mindlessly surfing the web, re-checking email and websites every few minutes, and then feeling fried halfway through the day. This would lead to me drinking caffeine and then getting back to my mindlessness. I knew I was only operating at a small fraction of my potential.

I slowly evolved and realized, “OK, I’m avoiding things.” But that didn’t help much because I would try to start reading a book, journal, or do something else to keep me grounded, only to find myself back in front of a screen before anything got completed. If I really wanted to unplug, I had to leave my house and leave all my tech behind. One day I thought, “Wait a minute, this is my home, why do I have to run away from it to get peace?” That’s what inspired the idea for Zenlock.

Q: When people tell you that they are too busy to turn off their screens or unplug from the web, what is your response?

A: I like to quote the Zen proverb “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”

I’ll then ask them if they’re doing busy work or if they’re really getting things done, and it’s at that point most people get real with me and admit that 90% of the time they’re not being productive. I’ve found we’re all the same in this regard.

Q: Why is there a need for Zenlock?

A: Try staying in your home for more than an hour without looking at a screen. If you can consistently do that, then you don’t need Zenlock. If you can’t, then this could be one of the most important tools in your life to help you regain clarity. When we’re in front of screens we’re getting an input of information — that is, we’re getting other peoples ideas shoved into our minds. In order to be a leader it’s essential that we have the space to incubate our own thoughts, otherwise we’ll be marching to someone else’s drum for our entire lives.

Q: Since using Zenlock, what positive changes have you seen in your own life? Similarly, what changes have you seen in others who have used the product?

A: For me, it’s given me the space to slow things down and make sure I’m working on the right things. Besides the clarity aspect, it’s really helped me dive into books a lot deeper. I used to read for 10 minutes, then look at my phone, then that was it for reading the book. While using Zenlock I get to dive deep and read for hours. It’s also helped me really get in tune with my body. I’ll usually do 30–45 minutes of stretching, which has in turn helped my mind function better.

Other people who’ve used the product have reported being able to fall asleep at normal hours, more journaling, and just overall giving their minds a break from work so they can recharge.

Q: How can Zenlock provide positivity and inspiration to others?

A: It all starts with taking care of yourself in life. It’s like the airplane analogy, that in case of an emergency, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you put it on your kid. If you’re mentally healthy and rested, then you can help other people, it’s as simple as that.

Q: Tell me how you see the world 5 years from now with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, using Zenlock?

A: It’s crazy to think that’s a possibility, but that is why I’m doing this! I see each individual who uses Zenlock as being more calibrated to his or her inner purpose. When you’re still, and your mind is clear, your intuition will start talking to you and guide you.

I know if the world started to follow that voice, it’d be a more beautiful place. I can see a decrease in the amount of drugs being consumed, because people no longer need to numb themselves from the pain of not living their true lives. I see a decrease in caffeine intake, and an increase in taking naps. And I definitely see a lot more books being read!

Q: As an entrepreneur with a cutting edge product, what ideas and people most inspire you?

A: People who’re truly making the world a better place inspire me. The old mentality was that profits come before anything else, and that’s left us with a world that our great grandkids won’t be able to survive on. We’ve got global warming, chemicals in products that cause cancer, poor quality water and food, animals dying off at a record pace, and depression and drug abuse higher than ever — to name a few things. It’s going to require a major shift in thinking, and I believe that shift is happening. I’m inspired by anyone who is playing a role in this change.

I am grateful to Jeff for this interview. You can learn about Zenlock at the following website: www.zenlock.io. Or you can contact him directly at: jeff@zentools.io