Confessions of a Digital Detoxer

The decision to take a digital detox was a sudden one for me and I thank a dear colleague for giving me the idea.

It was the week before Christmas and I was busy working away tying up the loose ends of 2015 before everyone drops off the radar for a few weeks. A colleague was coming to Adelaide to run media training workshops and I was in the thick of organising it all.

When I realised that flight times and workshop times were overlapping I wanted to talk to her to discuss how we could work around it. I sent her a text asking for a conference call only to receive no response, an hour went by and still no response. This was unlike her – she was always connected. Then I suddenly realised I had not read a tweet from her in quite a while.

I jumped online to discover about a week earlier she had tweeted that she was going on a digital detox and would be back after the New Year.

What!?

How could she?!

Didn’t she realise we had two days of workshops to organize in just over a month?!

And that’s when it hit me. My colleague had every right to go off the grid, and by my reaction to it I think it’s time I did too.

But where do you start with a digital detox? I’ve never done anything like this before. Should I look up the top 10 rules for a successful digital detox?

Well if there is anything I have learnt after all these years it’s following someone else’s rules on taking care of yourself will only set yourself up to fail. You know yourself best so make up your own ‘rules’ Louise. But only with one condition, if you break any of them, remember it’s ok.

However before I could start with my own ‘rules’ I had to work out what my boundaries were, so the first thing I did was a digital audit. I began by taking time out to start examine how I was using digital technology and here is what I came up with.

Emails

This is a key form of communication for me but for business not my personal life. I can be on it for 1-2 hours a day easily.

Text Messages

I’m big on sending a text message rather than making a five to ten minute phone call. But this is more for my personal life rather than business.

Phone Calls

I use my phone to make calls that are mainly professional and I would do around half a dozen in a day.

Social Media

I’m a news junkie and love my Twitter it’s the first thing I look at any given day and the last thing I check before bed. Needless to say there are countless times throughout the day I get lost in it for up to 15 minutes at a time. My only other platforms are Facebook and LinkedIn but I only check them every few days.

Everyday Apps

I have apps I use for a range of things from checking the weather to my banking and I use them throughout the day on a needs be basis.

The Internet

Well Google is my right arm most days, how else do I get instant information?

I could be on Google up to 20 times a day, however it does depend on what I’m doing. On the weekend I’m only on it for shopping compared to a weekday when I’m constantly using it for work.

When I sat back and looked at this I found it quite overwhelming. How could I digital detox when technology is so integral to my life?

And then I thought about which part of my life it is so integral to and realised it was mainly my working life. So I decided I would do my digital detox while on holidays, it would be easier to manage. I was going to do it the week I was at the family’s beach house where the coverage was rubbish and there was a landline people could find me if they really needed me.

Once I made this decision I then went back over my audit and addressed each of the ways I used technology.

Emails

Well it is mainly for work so I just put out an ‘out of office’ message on and with it make sure my clients had a back up to contact if it was an emergency. For my company it was my partner for Radio Adelaide it was my Executive Producer.

Text Messages

I can’t put an out of office on those but since I sent out more than I received. If it was urgent then whoever is trying to find me would call anyway and get my ‘off the grid’ voice message.

Phone Calls

My voice message would change to say that I was on holidays and out of reach but if it was an emergency they would get my partner’s number.

Social Media

This would be a hard one to stay away from but a simple message out to my friends and followers will let them know I’m offline for a while. I don’t think they’ll mind at all.

As for me, well I may have to be old fashioned and buy a newspaper or magazine for my news fix, there is still the ol’ 6pm news bulletin. I’ll also stock up on those books I never made time for because I’m always on Twitter!

Everyday Apps

Wow, what was life like without an app? Well I would soon find out.

Now I would have to remember what banking at an ATM felt like and getting my weather update from a news bulletin once or twice a day. Woah!

The Internet

Again, how did we find information before Google?

I’m about to find out……

Once I had all this in place it was time for my digital detox. Ready. Set. Go!

You can click here to read the highs and lows of my week……

Now the detox is over and I honestly do not recognise myself. This amazing sense of calm that is over me feels foreign. My mind is settled and I’m fresh for a new year of work, best of all I sat at my optometrist this morning waiting for my appointment and had no urge to look at social media or news headlines on my phone while I wait.

Taking 10 days out to do a digital detox does feel like luxury these days. But I think if I can squeeze it in to a long weekend or a four-day break every now and again I should be fine until my next big break.