Using Less Technology

4 Signs You Need to Power Down for a Tech Detox

According to a PEW poll, 90 percent of the world’s smartphone users say their phone is their “constant companion.” And 96 percent say they “rarely” or “never” power down.  Social media experts insist that you have to post every single day to be considered “active” on your chosen platform. Yet for all this connection, real relationships often grow more distant.

Add to that, this news: Worker productivity is experiencing its sharpest decline since l979. According to the U.S. Labor Department, U.S. workers produced less per hour for the third consecutive quarter.

That’s the big-picture.

But what about you personally? What are the signs that you need to power down and do a detox from technology for a few days?

Tell-Tale Sign #1: You Don’t Dance With the Person You’re With

As a communication consultant, I hear this pet peeve from so many people: “He (or she) can’t carry on a conversation over a meal without taking a call or responding to a text. He can’t even sit in a half-hour meeting without playing with his gadgets.”

Not only does this drive managers crazy, it irritates coworkers as well when they have to recap discussions and decisions while you disengaged to talk with the absent person. They’re even more irate if they have to stand by idly while you finish a call.

And with personal relationships, constant in-and-out conversations zap the emotional connection and intimacy. It feels like having someone whirl you around on the dance floor, swing you around and down in a most romantic dip—and then drop you to the floor in a thud.

Tell-Tale Sign #2:  You Find Yourself Mindlessly Scrolling Along

Ever found yourself scrolling your way through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Google+ without realizing the time or reason? You headed to the platform to post or tweet, but got swept away in the channel and just kept floating and floating and floating. It felt easy, natural, familiar. As Lewis Carroll famously penned: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

Tell-Tale Sign #3:  You Dream But Don’t Do

Do you hear yourself talking year after year about what you’re “going to do”? I have colleagues who’ve been telling me for years that they’re “going to” write a book. As this year draws to a close in a few weeks, ask yourself if you’ve accomplished all you intended to this year. If not, why not? Does any of the lost time have to do with misused technology? Too many apps to investigate and learn? Too many social media platforms to navigate? Too many podcasts to hear? Too many videos to shoot? Too many TED Talks to analyze? Too many images to edit and post?

Tell-Tale Sign #4:  Too Many Conversations Start With, “I Read Somewhere….”

You’re operating in overwhelm with no time to think and execute. Like a bucket of cold water on a hot summer day, new ideas satisfy your thirst. But when the bucket fills to capacity, the water overflows to the ground—useless. You need space and time to think, create, or implement. If all you do is read more and more ideas and plan bigger and bigger schemes, but never actually turn the plans into reality, what good is the reading?


Even computers need a refresh or a reboot. How about you? Time for a tech detox to refresh your brain, productivity, communication, or relationships?

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