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Powering down: Take the technology detox challenge

Technology and coffee photo for Iowa Biz July 2015Rita Perea is president and CEO of Rita Perea Leadership Consulting Associates, specializing in working with senior leaders to successfully engage employees, lead teams, manage change and balance work and life.

It has become fashionable in our American culture of sanctioned and celebrated workaholism to tell people how busy we are.  How many times a week does this conversation happen... Person #1 asks, “Hi! How are you?”  Person #2 responds with, “OMG!  I am SOOOO busy, you just cannot believe it!”  Unfortunately Person #2 is displaying their busyness like a badge of honor. Sadly, most of us are in this same camp of feeling overwhelmed with too much to do and not enough time to do it either at work or at home. 

Busyness is often confused with our 24/7 connectedness -- the control that electronic devices have over our lives -- which can wreak havoc on any semblance of work-life balance we may be trying to find. Research shows us that at the very moment we feel we are at the height of overwhelming busyness and that we simply cannot add one more project or detail, this is the very time that it’s beneficial to power down and take a technology diet.

The reason is simple: all of the information we are receiving can overload our brain circuitry making us feel distracted, scattered and ineffective. If we take a break for 24 or 48 or 72 hours we allow our brains to rest and hit the “reset” button. When we return to our busyness we feel much more focused and efficient and not so overwhelmed. 

You may be thinking, “Give up my phone and email for 24 hours?  Are you CRAZY?”  

No, I’m not crazy. I am concerned about people’s mental, emotional and physical health, though. I am concerned about the health of our society. I actually know people who regularly implement a technology detox as part of their work-life balance routines.  Many people in senior leadership positions are simply and routinely unavailable. Research aside, they swear by the benefit of feeling more peaceful and less stressed during and after their technology-free time. 

Personally, I power down my computer every Friday at 4 p.m. and do not power up again until 8 a.m. on Monday morning. I put my email auto-responder on to alert important senders that I am unavailable. My executive coaching clients know how to contact me on the weekends if an issue cannot wait until Monday morning but in 15 years of business this has only happened once.

I do leave my mobile phone on during weekend daytime hours but do not use it for social media updates, to search the web or sneak a peek at email. I love creating the time on the weekend to read a book, putter in my garden or socialize in person with family and friends without the interference of being distracted by technology. When I return to business on Monday morning, I do so with enthusiasm, clarity, focus and renewed energy. Weekend detoxing from the technological drain has made such a difference in my life.  I am confident that it can bring some balance back to yours too.

Give it a try! Take the technology diet challenge this weekend. Make a commitment to power down for only 24 hours. Only 24 hours!  You can do it! When you emerge from the device detox you will feel vibrant, focused and balanced like a brand-new person. And you will have reclaimed some much needed time for yourself and your family.  What could be better than that? 



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