For one week in September, Team Ridiculously Efficient went on a partial digital detox. Every night at 8pm local time, we set out on a mission to put our phones away, stay away from social media and stop checking emails.
Let’s be honest, as much as we all think a digital detox would be nice, we never make the time for it. This experiment forced us to at least try a partial detox. I’m not going to lie, it was more difficult than I anticipated.
The first day, 8pm rolled around and I was not at all tired or ready to go to bed. My roommates all use their phones 24/7 like I do, and watch TV until 11pm or whenever they decide to go to sleep. That made trying to unplug and avoid anything with a screen even tougher, but I gave it a try. The first night, I laid awake restless and almost agitated, because in my head I was thinking that there were so many other things I could be doing. I could be completing another project or at the very least watching TV with my roommates.
Just to paint you a picture, I am usually that person who will “watch” TV with my roommates, while actually working on another project on my computer, with my iPad and iPhone sitting right next to me for the occasional check-in. I know that’s not an ideal work situation, but most nights that’s what I consider “down-time.” The first couple nights, I laid in my bed wide awake with my mind running at a million miles per hour because I was paranoid that I’d miss something important, get yelled at, or let the team down.
Becoming More Well Rested
As the week went on, it actually got a lot easier. By night 3, 8pm rolled around, I got ready for bed and was ready to lie down and go to sleep, which lead to a more energized and productive day 4. I found that I ended up getting more rest than normal because I wasn’t allowed to check my phone or computer. I also noticed that I wasn’t even on my phone as much during the day, let alone come nighttime.
The evening of day 4, proceeded like the one prior. I was fast asleep by 10pm. I always set my phone to do-not-disturb. However, I have it set so that if certain people call me, their calls will come through. Sure enough, I got a call from one of my teammates at midnight saying that my boss just finished his presentation and wanted it up ASAP. So I got up right away and programmed the presentation. Staring at that bright little screen in the middle of the night threw my digital detox for a minor loop.
However, I did not fall off the bandwagon. I discontinued the use of my phone for the remaining nights.
Where Do We Go From Here
In the type of job I work in, putting your phone away for any amount of time can be stressful because you can obsesses about missing an email or a phone call. I am beginning to learn that it is all about setting boundaries. Although I love when my teammates say they know they can always depend on me, whether it is at 5:30am or 11:30pm, I am definitely learning the importance of setting boundaries and defining the word “urgent.” I still go back to old habits and get nervous to unplug. However, I’ve found it is crucial to detox in order to reduce burnout and be more effective and efficient in the times that you are “on.”