Let me be the first to say that I love technology! My husband and I have business speed internet to our house, I know what fiber is (the non-dietary related fiber), I get giddy when I buy a new gadget and the new solid state drive recently installed on my Mac has me feeling like a kid on Christmas. It’s a good thing I like technology too because my job is inundated in it. Running a marketing firm, I spend no less than 7-8 hours a day in front of a screen. I’m listening to music on my ipad, answering email, holding online conference calls, designing marketing pieces, coding a website, implementing a social media campaign…the list goes on – and almost all of it encompasses technology.
The other day I was listening to NPR, because I’m 30 and to the young-ins “old” includes enjoying public radio, sigh, anyway I was listening to NPR and heard a comment about how there are people who work for Google who unplug from all things technology…once a week. I literally gasped out loud. I thought they were going to say once a month but once a week! How? I then felt a warm energy of excitement make its way through my body until I was smiling to myself and wiggling in my seat with anticipation. If they can do it, I can do it!
I got home and promptly announced to my husband that I was implementing a personal No Tech Sundays. He’s pretty used to me coming up with some new life goal or strategy so he looked at me out of the corner of his eye and calmly asked me what that exactly meant “so you can’t get in a car?” he asked. “No, that’s not what I mean” I stated patiently (or impatiently – tomato, tomahtoe). “No Tech Sundays is me unplugging from the world and just enjoying the moment without distraction. So from 8am-8pm I’ll be computer-less and phone-less.” That was on a Friday. I prepped for the big day by letting my mom and other critical people know that if they needed to get a hold of me they could call Gerald or wait until after 8pm.
The Big Day
My first No Tech Sunday was amazing! I left my phone somewhere in my house and walked out the door to meet my parents at church for Father’s Day. After breakfast with the folks, Gerald and I drove around different areas near our house. We discovered new roads we’d never been down and a park that we’d never noticed. When we finally came home, I meandered over to our well-stocked bookcase. When we got married and moved into our house we’d combined our book collection and I never quite grasped just how many unread books I now had at my fingertips. So I grabbed two – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey and The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality by Cheikh Anta Diop. It was an awesome and relaxing afternoon filled with introspection, enlightenment and inspiration. A completely successful first go!
New Endeavors! Lotion Making?
Gerald loved the whole experience as well. He knew that I would be almost game for anything because – well, what else was I going to do. So hip to the game, Gerald was prepared when the second No Tech Sunday rolled around. Mid-morning he announced that he wanted to make homemade lotion. “Really?” I said. He nodded yes. On any other day I would be swamped with a project or exhausted from wrapping up a project but on No Tech Sundays – my schedule was wide open! I readily agreed and we hit the streets looking for ingredients to make homemade lotions. Note: fortunately my husband still uses technology on Sunday so looking for lotion recipes and ingredients were still effectively curated through Google. We had an awesome time. Making lotion and body butters with natural ingredients on Sunday afternoons is fast becoming a household tradition (stay tuned we may start selling our lotions if we get really good)!
I never realized just how much I’ve missed in life because I was distracted by technology. Checking an email, responding to a Facebook post, answering a text and so on. I still love technology and appreciate it even more now that I go without it for a significant period of time (GPS, Google Search, E-Books, Podcasts, Spotify, Yelp, Scout Mob….). But being completely present in each moment without distraction has been a transformative experience.
Here’s the super exciting part though – there are benefits to this practice. I know, how lucky can a girl get! You can probably guess that there are tons of benefits to reducing tech consumption and screen time. But here’s one I didn’t know about that I just had to share!
Reduction of ‘tech-neck’
Never heard of tech neck? I hadn’t either until talking with the head of our PR services, Anna. As soon as the words left her mouth though I knew I didn’t want it. It sounded like a new age disease. You can find a great write-up about it in the UK publication The Telegraph but here’s an excerpt…
Dermatologists say that constant neck bending to look at screens is leading to sagging skin, dropping jowls and a distinct crease above the clavical, a condition they have dubbed ‘tech-neck.’ read more.
I mean really, the descriptive selection above feels like something straight from a horror novel. But who knew reducing your time in front of a computer had stellar premature aging effects. Score! After reading this article I started using a second screen on my desk that is elevated and causes me to look up more than down now. My plan to look 50 or younger at 75, is effectively underway.
Overall it’s been great to step back and enjoy the foundational activities and relationships in life. Again not knocking technology; which personally allows me to run a successful business from the comfort of my home or truthfully anywhere in the world with a decent internet connection. But intentionally stepping away has allowed me to stay rejuvenated, focused and grounded on what truly matters.
If you decide to try out a No Tech Day let me know how it goes and what adventures you find yourself getting into!