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How my tech detox helped me to focus at work

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Any given day I have to charge my battery three times, my lock screen is crowded with endless notifications all screaming for my attention and I’m scrolling until I eventually fall asleep … at midnight.  But that was before my tech detox.

With one WhatsApp message to my friends and family to inform them of my experiment I half-heartedly jumped into my five days with a “brick phone”. I was transported back to the days when the Nokia 3310 was the indestructible centre of our universe and wondered why was I doing this to myself?

So why did I do it?

Our latest whitepaper discusses the impact increased connectivity is having on our productivity. Swiping every single notification as it appears is not an effective use of time. It interrupts your workflow and, while you might not realise it, it is crowding your ability to think clearly and be creative. I wondered what impact my obsession with my phone was having on my attention span and creativity so I decided to make a change.

My commute, lunch break and evenings were going to be the biggest struggle for me and for the first two days I doubted whether I would last any longer. But by the time Friday rolled around I was already feeling the benefits and I’ve started to make some changes to my tech-centred life.

I was sleeping better

During my tech blackout I hardly ever touched my phone so when I got to bed at 10:30 I didn’t toss and turn like I normally would. Without the draw of checking Facebook one last time, I turned off the light and fell asleep.

For the first few nights this week I relished the idea of cuddling up into my blanket and catching up on the day’s viral stories and conversations. Before I knew it I was quickly back in my old pattern and feeling the exhausting repercussions the next day. Some habits die hard. All the hours clocked up staring at my phone during the day didn’t feel like they were making a difference to my sleeping pattern but they were.

Knowing the facts and how they benefitted me last week I’m going to make more of an effort. Bed by 10:30. No phone after 10. Even though I know I’d sleep better if I left my phone in another room, I don’t think I’m ready for that level of commitment just yet.

So what now?

For those five days it was like I had dropped off the face of the earth which, as it turned out, was the great break that I needed. The world turned, drama ensued, and I was none the wiser.

While my notifications were never this bad, from now on I’ve decided to keep them all turned off – except WhatsApp. My social media apps have been relegated to the last page of my iPhone. I realise now that having Facebook or Snapchat on my homepage is unnecessary. It’s too easy for me to just mindlessly tap those apps when I have a spare second.

I didn’t realise how consumed I was by my phone until I had to do without it. When I’m waiting for the Dart or for the kettle to boil I just stand there and do nothing – something that horrified me two weeks ago. If I miss out on anything I’ll catch up. What’s more important is having space to breath, to do nothing. I’m a lot more focused and relaxed as a result.

Even though I drove my colleagues crazy the first two days complaining about it, it was an enormously beneficial experience and I’d recommend everyone detox every now and then so that you can be more productive and see that you don’t need technology as much as you think (*gasp*).

For more tips on making the most of your workday

Read ‘A Rested Worker is a Productive Worker’