When I woke up at 3am reaching for my Blackberry, I knew an intervention was in order.
Most days lately I have two computers on and running alongside me all day. Lunch is either eaten at my desk, or while standing up in the kitchen. My four email accounts get some love right before bed and before I brush my teeth many mornings.
Blah blah blah, I'm busy like everyone else. As a coach I'm probably supposed to be a model for calm and efficiency. So much for that.
So in the spirit of practicing what I preach...at midnight on Friday two weeks ago I shut it all down. No computer, no cell phone, no TV for 48 hours.
At 12:01am I'll be honest, I did reach for my shut-off Blackberry. Same thing when I woke up in the morning. It was Saturday, completely free, but I felt a little jumpy for my "fix" for the first few hours. By the end of the weekend though it was really hard to go back to my wired life.
You've probably read about tech addiction and the need for pockets of analog time during your day for balance. AJ Jacobs tried uni-tasking in The Guinea Pig Diaries and Christine Louise Hohlbaum covers the subject from multiple angles in The Power of Slow (I'm quoted in it by the way!).
Until I actually disconnected, instead of reading or talking about it, I didn't understand that I was addicted. What had begun as fear that I'd miss something important, became a time filler. I'm not doing anything else, so I guess I'll check Twitter, or email or both at the same time.
How could I let this happen?
Very easily as it turns out. My desire to serve the people in my life, to be available and to be successful at my two businesses all contributed to my abusing technology.
The addiction didn't help me do any of these things better. In fact it just created a lot of noise. I lost sight of my to-do lists, the clock, and had nothing left to give to myself or others afterwards. Technology was sucking the life out of me.
And now? I stand before you not quite a changed woman. As I type, my Blackberry is blinking next to me, and I have checked it a couple of times.
With Simply Leap I talk about how the smallest steps can lead to big change, and I think my tech free weekend is an example of this.
Doing it didn't change my desire nor my business need to be digitally connected. What it gave me was enough separation to see what time with technology was useful and what was getting in the way of enjoying the rest of my life—and being productive.
If all of this sounds eerily familiar, try cutting the cord for a period of time—every night starting at 6pm, a full day, one whole week. Feel what it's like to be untethered. After perhaps you'll commit, as I did, to sit down at a table at mealtimes alone or with friends other than Mr. Blackberry. To not taking your cell with you to workout and to turning off or walking away from the computer when a good friend calls to catch up.
It's another Friday and I'm ready for my second tech-free weekend. Want to join me for a walk to hear the buzz of bees and not of emails?