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My digital detox

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by Anna Williamson | 18 June 2018

From 8:30am on Monday 4 June 2018 to 8:30am on Wednesday 6 June 2018 I took part in a digital detox. You can refer to the rules of the challenge here to see exactly what was involved, but in a nutshell this meant no electronics; no phone, no iPad, no Kindle, no Alexa and extremely limited television options; the five main channels only.

I have to be completely honest – I was not looking forward to this at all. However, as a responsible team leader I felt it was important to kick off this challenge properly.

Over the course of what felt like the longest 48 hours of my life (just kidding, kind of) I did actually survive two whole days without using technology in a personal capacity. I made sure that I took notes (on actual paper, using an actual pen – a novelty in itself!) of the various situations that I came across, where normally I would have relied on technology. 

So, how did it go? Read on to find out.

Handing over the ‘goods’

Monday morning, 8:30am sharp my iPhone, iPad and Kindle were taken away from me, my personal social media account passwords were changed and my team were looking quite smug.

I had already prepared for this and let the important people in my life know that I wouldn’t be available for a couple of days (most people thought I was crazy, just to add) and I had let my boss know that I wouldn’t be available on my mobile until Wednesday.

My working day is always super busy, so not having access to my personal social media accounts, text messages or personal emails was not really an issue.

By the end of Monday, I was feeling pretty good.

Getting from and to work

Yes, I was feeling good until I got to St Peter’s Square tram stop and remembered that I use my iPhone to buy my monthly Metrolink ticket.

£3.80! £3.80 for a single ticket back to East Didsbury to collect my car. In addition, the 25 minute trip back to East Didsbury was really boring. I normally catch-up on emails, read my Kindle or play a game on my iPhone. Instead I had no choice but to sit and watch the world go by. If I’m really honest I did listen in on some interesting phone conversations that other people were having though…

In total, not being able to use my pre-bought monthly Metrolink ticket to travel to and from work cost me a grand total of £13.40 over the 48 hour period.

My commute is pretty torturous as it is (about 1.5 hours each way, maybe less in the morning) but not being able to call anybody in the car on the way home was by far the saddest part of the trips home on Monday and Tuesday.

The house

Thanks to my husband who is a little bit of a tech nerd, a lot of our household is synced up to Alexa – Amazon’s smart home system. I literally can’t turn a light on or off in our house without asking Alexa to do it. Whilst sometimes this is a little bit annoying the system does have its uses. However, the rules mean I can’t interact with Alexa at all.

Queue 50,000 questions from me.

Anna: “How do I turn the lamp on in the bedroom manually?”
Husband: “There is an on button on the plug that you have to press.”
Anna: “But the plug is behind my bedside table.”
Husband: “Then you need to pull the bedside table out to do it.”
Anna: “…”

Television time

The digital detox rules stated that I could watch a limited amount of television but only one of the five main channels and nothing pre-recorded.

Generally, I don’t watch a lot of television during the week and personally I don’t watch soaps or reality TV. However, there is one exception to this…Love Island. Most people would think that this trashy reality TV programme is not my thing at all, but I absolutely love it and I have been so excited about the launch of it this year.

Guess when it launched? Monday 4 June 2018 – the first day of my digital detox.

Guess what channel it is on? ITV2 – which is not allowed.

Guess who went to bed before 9:00pm feeling really sad? I did. #muggedoff

Getting up

Even though I was super sad about Love Island on Monday evening I was pleased to be in bed by 9:00pm. However, I did quickly realise that I had no way of setting an alarm for the morning without my iPhone or without breaking the rules and using Alexa.

Reluctantly, the only option I had was to ask my husband to wake up early to wake me up as obviously he could set an alarm for me for 5:30am. He was not pleased with this. Not pleased at all.

Other things I discovered taking part in the digital detox

The above covers the main ‘challenges’ I faced, but there were some other instances where normally I would have turned to some form of technology:

  • I bought a coffee from Caffé Nero and couldn’t get my stamp to save up for a free coffee because it is an app on my phone.
  • I am pretty sure I didn’t read the news for two days. I can’t remember the last time I bought an actual newspaper.
  • When I’m on the move, I have absolutely no concept of time without my phone. I don’t wear a watch.
  • On the whole, I wasn’t greatly missed by anybody. I did have 32 text messages, 11 Facebook notifications, 27 personal emails and a couple of missed calls…but it wasn’t anything major.

So…was it all bad (and kind of expensive?)

Not at all. There were some good things come out of this experience:

  • I slept better. Does anyone else say they are going to bed but then proceed to look at their phone for the next 30 minutes? Not being able to do this meant I could settle down straight away and go to sleep.
  • I was more productive at home. I got some jobs done that probably wouldn’t have been done. I cleaned our guest room ready for some friends staying over in a couple of weeks and I did two extra loads of washing that normally would have waited until the weekend.
  • When I finally got to catch-up on Love Island, I could fast-forward through the adverts. It really is the small things. J

That concludes my digital detox. When are you doing yours?