This is more of a self revelation/reflection. Or perhaps even some form of confession? Coming clean with my own behavior on a topic I am regularly confronting clients about?  You be the judge.

    I’ve had a computer, an iPad, an iPhone for years. However, I’ve historically been an infrequent “user.” I write on my computer, and sometimes on my iPad and have for quite some time. However, my phone/cell use was infrequent. And actually, I had a practice, for a long time, of only checking emails a couple of times a day.  And as a result, I questioned clients who complained of how over-whelmed they felt by all their various tech devices: “Can we talk about what makes you think you need to check emails so frequently?” “What are the feelings you are aware of when you can’t get away from your computer/iPad/phone?”

    I also watched clients visibly flinch when a phone would “bing” signaling a text message.  That could easily be seen as a “bad psychological sign.” So I started asking clients to make sure their phones were off.  Similarly, in leading conversations in an organization setting, making presentations, I asked participants to take a minute and turn their phones off.

    So what could have started my down hill slide into over reliance on CHECKING MESSAGES.  The first thing I can put my finger on is the shift some time ago to clients choosing to send text messages rather than leave a voice mail or send an email. In fact they began to fail to respond to MY efforts to reply with a voice mail or email… definitely a snag if I wanted to keep on top of my own appointments!  And definitely, I do!

    Consequently, I “drifted” into the “text ditch” — just making that term up as I reflect!  AND I realize I’m just on the edge of sounding as if I’m “blaming” my behavior on clients?!  The reality? I believe I found it too hard to set the boundaries with a few individuals who travel all the time and did need to connect with me.  That then just eased me into making the same exception with everyone.  Besides, I already had the daily habit of checking voice mail regularly in case clients needed to reach me — for a simple appointment change or an emergency.  You see this descent?

    Slowly, over time, I began to check my phone for text messages — gradually, in between every appointment. Still that has seemed, historically, simply efficient. THEN it carried over into checking emails more frequently. And surprisingly far less frequently checking my office voice mail.  I have still rationalized all this change based on it being work related.  Then just this weekend I was faced with an unpleasant reality.  I was away for a long, relaxing weekend, and vowed to just put my phone and my iPad away with the exception of checking once a day to make sure I had nothing urgent in my office to respond to…………

    My discovery: even though I loved having the break, it was very difficult. I was pulled frequently, habitually to want to pick up my phone. I had it silenced but forgot to turn my iPad off so realized it was “dinging.”  Easy to fix, but I checked messages BEFORE turning it off.  I did manage to spend a “tech vacation” for much of the time away with no negative results, but I learned a great deal about the impact on ME — and perhaps on others — of the need to be “in touch.”  And the UNNECESSARY part of that need.

    So ask yourself some questions.  Can you turn your tech STUFF off for long periods of time? What do you feel when you try it? Is it a PERSON you want to connect with? Or are you simply mindlessly scanning twitter? (or whatever other vehicle of communication you have graduated to)? Do you recall what you did IN LIFE before you became so dependent? Are you missing the moment in front of you by not turning it OFF?

    If it’s just hard or annoying to take a tech break, that’s different from discovering you break into a sweat! Seriously, if it makes you anxious, take a more serious look at what’s going on.  There’s an amazing wonderful world out there, filled with amazing wonderful people who might like to have a conversation….if you aren’t staring at your phone!  Pay attention. I’m certainly doing so.  And I have to add, I came back to my office on Monday morning far more relaxed!

    Listen to Dr. Linda Moore and Mike Manko discuss tech device addiction/denial on the SteveAndMikeRadio.com podcast.

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