#DigitalDetox & Why Technology is Like Chocolate

Me? Take time away from my cell phone? Nonsense! We manage social media for a living. Our people need us!

This had been my mentality for years. Until recently something shifted. This tech addict went on a quest to see if I could increase my productivity, focus, and overall well-being – and in turn our company’s – by doing the impossible: taking a scheduled break from technology.

I have to admit, I was scared. Uncertain of this new terrain. My iPhone had become another appendage, a third limb. But with recent articles like this one in TIME & this in FastCo, I had to believe there was something to the idea that technology use has diminishing returns after a certain point.

So I decided to give it a whirl and forego looking at my phone after 5 p.m. for one week and here are the 5 things I learned along the way:

1) Technology is like chocolate

My husband was the person who was most excited about this challenge. He has for a long time wondered how someone could be so dependent on technology. After only one week of not looking at email after work, he noticed me being more present with him and the kids. Less distracted, more focused on the task at hand. I didn’t hear my daughter say even once, “mommy can you put your phone away?”. Yes, I’ve heard that on more than one occasion, sadly. So, the takeaway was: like, chocolate – and every other delicious, tasty, not great for you treat – technology is a wonderful thing, in moderation.

2) Acceptance is the first step

Just being aware of how often I was tempted to look, check, scroll, respond was a great exercise. The mere act of reflection is an important step toward positive change. This was very much the case with trying to wean off of around the clock use of my phone and other devices.

3) Faster is not always better

If I were being honest, I had become a slave to the ding of my phone. I got a little surge of adrenaline at the sound of a new email, text alert, or other vibration. Each one required my (immediate) attention. Or did it? The act of waiting to respond yielded perhaps the most surprising & yet important takeaway: faster is not always better. While our clients do appreciate our sense of urgency and timeliness (they’ve told me so), not one of the evening emails were urgent. And by waiting to respond until the next morning, some had even taken care of themselves!

4) Sleep Is life-giving

My sleep improved. You’ve heard this before, right? Not looking at your phone before bedtime yields better Zs. After this little experiment I can vouch that it’s 100% true. I didn’t just sleep better. I experienced a much more mind and soul-nourishing REM sleep that escaped me when I was burning the midnight oil by the comforting blue light of the phone. Incidentally, I am now wholly convinced that REM sleep leads to heightened creativity… but that’s a post for a different day.

5) It was really, really difficult

I’d be lying if I said this was easy. But such is life for an addict trying to give something up. And, while challenging, the break was wholly worth it. I don’t know what exactly I thought would happen, but my fears of angering clients or friends with my slower response time were unfounded. And my little girly loved that my hands were free to help her on the monkey bars, read her a book with my undivided attention and hug her extra tight. The even more difficult part is looking in the mirror and admitting that this took effort.

So now I need to schedule the next break from technology. Surely there’s an app for that? I’m Cabanne and I’m a recovering tech addict.

Follow me @Cabanne01 (Instagram), @Cabanne (Twitter)!