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Power of Digital: surviving a 48 hour digital detox


by Samantha Hattersley | 03 July 2018

It was my second week at Sellick Partnership when I was informed that my team were involved in a ‘Power of Digital’ campaign meaning that each team member had to complete their very own digital detox which meant completely switching off from all digital elements for 48 hours. Being the newest member of the team I was given the choice as to whether I was going to participate or not with no pressure what so ever from my colleagues. A big part of me wanted to say no straight away…how could I do this for a whole 48 hours I asked myself. I am a sucker for those cringe worthy memes that you constantly see being posted online that you read and scroll quickly past but I couldn’t be the only one not taking part in the detox!

My detox was set to last 48 hours from 08.30am on Wednesday 27 June 2018 to 08.30am on Friday 29 June 2018. We were provided with a set of rules that we had to stick to throughout the detox which included; my mobile phone and any other hand held devices that I own to be handed into reception at 08.30am on the first day and there was also a limitation on television which only included the five main channels. Yes that’s right… no Netflix or any other pre-recorded sites for the 48 hour duration. It was only 48 hours I could do that right?! Surprisingly I did… just about!

Friends and family that I had told about the detox couldn’t believe that I had agreed to take part mainly because my phone is ‘never out of my hands’ as my grandad likes to repeatedly tell me. My partner in particular was elated when I told him. All he could think about was the peace and quiet that he would have now that I was unable to repeatedly ‘double text’ him when he didn’t respond within five seconds of me sending him a message.

I had already second-guessed how I was going to find this… Challenging is a complete understatement. In the back of my mind I knew that this would be a huge change to my life. I find myself scrolling through the different social media channels looking at people’s daily lives which admittedly annoy me more often than not to be completely honest. I had tried to test myself prior to the detox to try and stop using my phone so frequently which surprisingly worked well (a little!)

In the lead up to my detox, I smugly sat back and watched as my colleagues took part who did admit that the challenge wasnt too bad however this didnt stop me from over-worrying about how I would cope. In the end I was actually starting to look forward to it…scarily. I was excited to see how I would cope for the 48 hours being completely disconnected from the ‘social world’.

At 07.00am on Wednesday 27 June 2018 my alarm went off like every other morning. Typically, I had forgotten all about my detox until a reminder popped up on my phone which only meant one thing; I had to send a group text to all of my friends and family reminding them too so that they didn’t think I had fallen off the side of the earth when they didn’t hear anything back from me. It was at that point that I started to think about all of the things that would change in the next 48 hours. I wasn’t mentally prepared for what was about to happen.

So… how did I cope?

The first day was actually ok. I think that I dealt with not having my phone pretty well. I spent my day in work wrapping up everything for the two events that were planned for Thursday, making sure that the consultants had everything that they need including all details i.e. timings, delegate list and stand positions. In the evening, I did some food shopping, visited my partners mum and then went home to cook dinner so before I knew it, it was time for me to go to bed – not a bad first day!

The second day however, was completely different. Again, the day time flew by. I was busy transferring blogs from our current site to the back end of the new website which is due to be launched in July. For the evening, I had planned to go over to my mum’s house to deliver her birthday present which arrived fashionably late. Other than this, I had zero other things to do with my night; my house mates were both out straight from work and I couldn’t make contact with any of my other friends as I had no way of doing so.

To say that I am on my phone ‘all of the time’ is an understatement. I spend most of the time staring at my notifications, reviewing social posts along with other pointless things that I probably shouldn’t waste my time on. Prior to my detox I had tested how often I actually check my phone and found that on average I check around 120 times a day. According to a recent study in 2017 it found that millennials check their phones up to 150 times per day (John Brandon, 2017)  so I guess that makes it pretty normal right? Or so I like to make myself think.

The journey to and from work

I approached the tram stop at 07.51am as usual and for the first time ever, had to work out how to navigate around the ticket machine as I usually buy this on the app on my phone. I struggled a great deal trying to find where I could purchase my ’28 day’ ticket as I had never done this before only to be told by a Metrolink worker that I would need a ‘Travel Card ID’ in order to do this on the platform. Great – of course I would! My day was off to a great start. It was then that I had found that a return ticket from South Chadderton to City Zone was going to cost me £5.80 per day totalling £17.40 for the three day period that I needed!!

That was it… the journey to and from work throughout this period only got worse! It was the week of the summer heatwave which did not help matters at all. Hot weather plus packed tram plus no earphones plus screaming children equals THE WORST possible situation for me.

I found myself listening into other people’s conversations which proved to be very interesting to say the least and also reading other people’s news articles over their shoulders… I wasn’t too sure whether that would be classed as cheating?

One thing came out of not having my phone for commuting was that I was kept very entertained by other people’s dramas. Some of these included a relationship break-up, a real life love story of two people falling in love on a tram and a nagging old woman who appeared to be a little bit crazy repeatedly informing the entire tram about her broken collar bone, rib, lumbar back pain and how the ‘youth of today is nothing like it used to be’.

Getting up for work

Who owns a stand-alone, battery operated alarm clock these days? Not very many of us I bet. I was soon going to realise what it would be like waking up to one. I had already planned the first night of not having my phone, which would be absolutely fine. I had organised for my partner to stay over so that he could be in charge of waking me up the next morning. The second night however proved to be more challenging as he had planned to have a ‘night with the boys’ for the England v Belgium match.

I crawled into bed at 09.45pm on Thursday 28 June 2018 and set my alarm for 07.00am the next morning. I lay in bed staring at the ceiling over-thinking about whether the alarm will go off in the morning or not. Although having no accurate way of being up on time and ready for work would be a valid excuse to be late for work, I wasn’t sure that this would go down well. Luckily for me, the stand alone alarm clock proved to be successful.

So… what did I learn from my digital detox?

Would I do the detox again? Probably if this was set as another team challenge. This isn’t something that I would do off my own back so I would need to be pushed to do something similar again. The detox made me realise how much the 21st century relies on technology to do almost everything in our daily lives. I did however get a better night’s sleep without having my phone to distract me. It was the little things that I missed such as keeping in touch with friends to see what they were up to – instead I had to drive places whilst not knowing whether people would be available! The biggest challenge that I faced was definitely that I didn’t have any entertainment for my commute to and from work but I survived the 48 hours, which definitely wasn’t as tough as I had anticipated.

The end result… Dun, dun, dunnnn.

Friday morning came around quicker than I thought. I was up, ready and on the tram to work eager with excitement to retrieve my phone back. I arrived at work at 08.20am, meaning that I still had ten minutes left of my detox. I was tempted to retrieve my phone at this point but surely that would be against the rules? ‘No’ I told myself – what was another ten minutes compared to the 48 hours that I had just completed without my phone.

Finally, 08.30am struck. I received my phone from my manager and awaited the raft of notifications that I was going to receive (or hopefully!)

  • 51 emails
  • 1 text message
  • 14 Whatsapp messages
  • 11 Facebook
  • 4 Facebook messages
  • 1 Instagram
  • 1 Snapchat
  • 3 Twitter and finally…
  • 6 LinkedIn

Do you think that you could survive a digital detox? To find out more about the Power of Digital campaign and how the rest of my colleagues got on with their detox, click here.