I did it. I actually did it.
This summer I achieved a… drum roll… digital detox!
And it was like coming off crack.
In August, we shared a week of our summer break with friends. We had a great time; mainly lying on beaches, eating amazing food and drinking G&T.
One night, the conversation turned to smart phones, ‘I bet you two couldn’t survive a day without your phones’, challenged Mrs Hep.
‘Easy,’ my mate and I declared, thinking she meant don’t take it to the beach for an afternoon.
But no. This challenge was a full 24 hours with phones locked in the safe and no other technology allowed.
‘Deal’, we agreed. But let’s up the ante. Three days and two nights – no tech.
The first 6 hours were fine. Then it became tough. We were both suffering from abandonment issues.
I wanted to find out what caused the withdrawal and how to deal with it…. but I couldn’t Google it!
My mate wanted to know what was happening on the last day of the transfer window…. but he wasn’t even allowed a text from his son.
That first day was tough.
Day two was only slightly better. When other people’s phones gave (Pavlovian) notification pings, we found ourselves scanning for our devices.
Then on the evening of day two our partners went shopping in the local town and we had an hour before dinner. G&T’s (with Spanish measures) were ordered and we watched the world go by.
At one point we just sat. No conversation. No distraction. Just there. In the moment. And no desire to check LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Email, Insta, BBC breaking news or what the weather would be like tomorrow.
When it came to retrieving our phones we both agreed to do this more often. In fact we’ve set up a WhatsApp group to stay accountable – only kidding.
When Pavlov rang the bell and his dog salivated, he proved that we didn’t need anything other than a sound to trigger a high emotional response.
Since my summer experiment, I’ve turned off ALL notifications on my phone. No tings, boings or bleeps. Bliss.
I’ve made a decision. Probably overdue. I’m going to massively reduce my screen time when I’m not working. Christine does this brilliantly. I need to learn from an expert – one that’s with me, not the online ‘refer to Google’ version.
I’d love to know your tips for reducing screen time. I’ll send a physical copy of my book Flip It – how to get the best out of everything to our favourite.
Please leave your thoughts below.
PS Have you heard of the latter experiment Pavlov carried out with his cat? You can view Eddie Izzard’s brilliant description here.