Technology Diet Revelations from the Screen-Free Trenches

4:07 pm Social Media Marketing

Just imagine what you would do with your time and life if you had no access to the screens that consume your attention, just about every day, so it seems.  As you walk down a crowded street, notice how many people are walking “heads down” — staring at their phones instead of watching where they are going or taking in the beauty and bounty all around or treating the people in their lives and work to the extraordinary gift of their full attention.

It is quite a refreshing experience if you give it a try. So that is what I did. I needed to calm my head, clear my mind, and remember the source of joy for my life and work.

I set aside five glorious days for my “technology diet.” That meant:

• No cell phone

• No social media

• No email

• No access to a computer keyboard of any kind

The first day or so, I was very uncomfortable. I felt very disconnected. I wondered and worried about what could be going on online that I might be missing.

To divert my attention and focus, I read a few books. I removed the wallpaper border in our guest room and painted it. I took the dog for a walk. I went to the gym to exercise. I napped … a lot. And I spent some quality time with my husband, son, and dog.

And guess what?

My head calmed down. I allowed space to dream about new and creative things beyond the tasks of my day to day life and work. And I came back to work refreshed.

The world and my own business did not stop spinning because I untethered from technology for a few days. Alert the media, so I say with a wink and a grin.

Best of all, my head stopped spinning with all the noise that crowds my head. And that was a delightful and welcome result.

I highly recommend disconnecting from technology for a few days to welcome the fresh perspective that comes about when you open your eyes to the things that really matter.

For me, that means making room for better relationships, real connections, and purposeful actions that invite welcome and abundant rewards.

I am happiest in my work and my life when I am connecting in a real, genuine way to make my best impact.

Yes, technology has a role, and it is just one ingredient in a more complete package of skills, gifts, and abilities that make me come alive.

Going forward, I will be adopting new standards and expectations with respect to the use of technology in my life and work. For example:

• I will post to Facebook less frequently.

• It may take 24 hours for me to reply to emails that come my way, excluding the weekends.

• Customer service requests will be tended to during “regular” business hours and not at all hours of the day and night.

• And I’ll continue to tinker with the recipe until the seasoning is just right in service to your needs while tending to my own.

Just curious, what adjustments can you make in your business to use technology in a way that supports your success without compromising the quality of your life?

It’s an interesting question to ponder, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them here.

Looking forward to the opportunity to connect with you one day soon.

 

 

 

 

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9 Responses

  1. Andrea Says:

    Thank you so much for this blog. I have been so tempted to take breaks from technology, but have been almost made to feel guilty for such a decision. Not anymore!! After reading this entry, I will schedule daily blocks of time where I will free myself from the constraints of cell phones and computers and enjoy what is around me.

  2. Carol Barnes Says:

    I have been made to focus on work-life balance with the advent of CFS in my life. Both a burden and a joy strangely. It has meant i cannot work such long hours because I physically no longer have that stamina.

    When I first identified i was ill, back in November 2012, I saved all my quality energy for work, thinking this would soon pass. Now that it hasn’t, I am having to make adjustments and your article rings true in so many ways. I wish I had read it a year ago and made these changes when I was feeling well!

    One of the major technology issues for me is being able to stay in touch with friends and family while not being accessible at all hours for clients. So this week I invested in MORE technology! It may sound counterintuitive but it means i can switch my blackberry off at the end of the working day and turn on my “friends and family phone” and not feel cut-off from possible social invitations and catch-ups.

    It is a new direction for me but I have faith it will work!

  3. Drew Gerber Says:

    Nancy,

    This is such a great blog post and question.

    For me, part of the reason for buying a house in a rural Serbian village was to be in a community that’s not addicted to technology. They still get around by horse and carriage! Rural Serbia is a nice balance for us between bustling Budapest.

    I think happiness is found in the middle.

    Drew

  4. Laura Mansfield Says:

    I went on a “technology cleanse” for just a few hours yesterday and it’s amazing how re-energized I was after just a few hours. Not sure I can go 5 days “cold turkey” but I can work up to it ;)

    Coincidentally, my blog (http://ascendbusinesscoach.com/?p=323) in honor of Independence Day talked about setting personal boundaries for business(like reasonable email response times)to also allow time to detach and recharge.
    Thanks, Nancy, for the insightful blog! Probably the first “diet” I’ll embrace!

  5. Geri Lafferty Says:

    Bravo! The long weekend provided a respite for many of those I’ve spoken with and every one talked about how refreshing and wonderful it was. We need to do this more often. Remember when the only way people could reach you was by calling your telephone . . . the one on the wall in the kitchen? :-)
    While I don’t think I want to go back to those days, a technology respite is just what the doctor ordered for the plugged-in weary of today.

  6. Kathy Slattengren Says:

    I just returned from spending two weeks visiting family in Minnesota. While I did bring my laptop along to handle any customer service issues that arose, I logged in at most once a day. It was a lovely, refreshing break.

  7. Pradesh Chanderpaul Says:

    Brave move. But not a good move.

    While I admire your resolve to have a 24 hour turnaround on email, keep offices hours etc, the problem is that these steps are in discord with current practices and client expectations.

    It is important for any business to be responsive to changing environments around them, and this includes the technological environments. Technology enables business to be available 24 hours a day, and to produces sharper response times. Clients not only know it, but expect it as well.

    Crawling into a hole and saying “Well, this is my weekend off, so there!” is not going to get you going places in this global city. For example, I am in South Africa, not around the corner from you, and the timelines could push your response out even further, since when I get up, you are going to bed, and vice versa.

    Being innovative means putting things in place that ensures the client know how special you are, and you can easily use the technology you enable us. For example, sending an automated email to say “Hey, I just got your email. I’m on it,” and later on saying “Still busy with your query, I’ll get back to you soon.”

    So for me, I say don’t discard technology. Rather, use and embrace it as an enabler.

  8. Doug Barlow Says:

    Great subject Nancy and thank you for the opportunity to share .. If the grid shut down, how would we survive??? In the end all we really need is food, shelter and love. It is my children that I worry about the most. The compound effect of 24/7 EMF exposure is real and if your health is important to you, a break from the screen may be just what the doctor ordered. Create and auto responder letting your clients know what you are doing and it just may start a revolution in human interaction and relationship building. If it is really important, people can always call as opposed to email, text, FB, Twitter, etc, etc.
    Creating a EMF FREE zone in your house may just save your life :) Make sure all your electronics are turned off at night especially the WIFI! Thanks again for raising this awareness to Take 5 from the screen.

  9. Cheryl Pickett Says:

    I have a couple of thoughts. First on the reply above about the global community and expectation. I totally understand that we are not all on the same office ours or time zones. However, expectations are a totally different thing.

    When we have our own business, the goal is to run it around our lives, not the other way around. Just because we can be available 24/7 in no way means we must be. Just because we want our fave restaurant open at 6AM or at midnight, does not mean it will be. If we want to go there, we respect the hours.

    Believe it or not, the same thing can happen in our virtual stores and workplaces. If we are clear up front about how we work people will either understand or they won’t. If they choose not to do business with us because the hours don’t match, what is wrong with that? Your true audience, the ones you want to work with, respect your business (or at least try hard).

    Next, as far as other unpluging ideas, I recently read a blog post by someone who had broken his smart phone. When he got a new one, all of the apps he had on the home screen did not transfer over. After a few hours being without them, he discovered he kind of liked it and was considering leaving most of them off instead of restoring them.

    I totally agree, we all need time to breathe and unplug. Taking time to smell the roses has never been more needed.

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