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5 Reasons To Force Yourself To Do A Technology Detox

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All of us deal with addiction at some point in our life. For the last few years, a few of us have joked about our addictions with technology thinking that there was no such thing. I have just witnessed this so-called myth, become a reality in my life.

My addiction skyrocketed out of control when I began building an online presence. My reasons for doing so were fairly innocent: I wanted to make it easier for people to connect with me so I could have some small impact on inspiring them to be more on an ongoing basis.

What started out as good intentions led me to something much more. I lost sight of why I initially began to build an online presence and got lost in distractions that had nothing to do with my vision. I have written this article because I don’t want the same to happen to you.

Each of our individual life missions is too important to have something so basic take it away from us. It’s no longer something to joke about and it has had a serious effect on me recently. All of what I am saying about technology might come as a shock for those who know me well, especially considering my day job is 100% focused on tech.

These words I am writing are not designed to make you quit technology altogether, it’ to help you not let it consume you. The addiction creeps out of nowhere and it’s only when you realise how bad your technology craving is and come to terms with it, that you can start to make a change.

It’s not healthy to be detached from the world and have your senses always reacting to beeping sounds and visual red notifications. The most critical thing in your life should be your passions and you’re overarching vision, not technology. When did this fundamental shift occur and how did we let this happen?

Technology has many benefits and it should enable us to get more done, but the point to this article is not to lose touch with reality and the fact that all achievements still occur through human interaction at some level.

Don’t allow your success to be dictated by outside forces and to be distracted away from your hopes and dreams. Don’t lose sight of the problems our world faces and how you can help to be part of the change; how you can give back and have a positive impact.

Take back your life, see what’s happened, observe, and consider a technology detox using the lessons I learnt below.

1. It will stop the anxiety and stress (get back to the moment)

The most important benefit I have gotten from my technology detox is the reduction in stress and anxiety levels. I found myself always needing to look at my phone, even if there was a two-second gap in daily commitments. This meant that I never had time to think or reflect on what I was doing.

I was just constantly reacting to the world and being told by technology what was urgent and what wasn’t. A lot of what I was being told was urgent, didn’t reflect my daily to-do list. I found that I couldn’t live in the moment because there would always be something I would read in my email or on social media that required me to continually think ahead.

A lot of the time I would be going to my email to check if something had arrived, and then I would see something else and open that, which might lead me to Facebook, which could lead me to Twitter, and you get the idea.

This meant that the things the real world required me to do wouldn’t get done or would keep being given a lesser priority. When did we allow something other than ourselves to decide what should be important to us?

We need to take back control of our lives, take responsibility, and not let technology dictate our life.

2. It will bring you closer to your family and friends

So when I look at the relationship with my loved one, that’s when I really started to get worried. I was so detached that I couldn’t see the reality. It was only when I decided to film a meal we were having, to test a new camera I brought, that I saw what was really going on.

The film was quite clear. We sat at the dinner table and stared at our phones while shovelling food into our mouths, and occasionally we would grunt or mumble something at each other. No wonder we all feel like we have lost touch with each other.

By making a commitment to putting my phone away during meal times and turning my phone off on weekends, I am starting to feel like I am getting closer to my loved ones again but I still have a long way to go.

In your own life, if you can learn to take breaks from your technology and share yourself with others, I promise you that your happiness levels will increase.

3. It will allow you to meet new people

I found during my technology addiction that I would go to conferences or events and spend a lot of the time looking at my phone. When I was having a conversation with someone, one of us would usually be distracted by a call or SMS.

This may seem insignificant, but interrupting a conversation when someone new is trying to connect with you for the first time, can significantly impact the outcome of that relationship. The other issue I had was that I wasn’t going up and talking to people, and once I spoke to those I knew, I found myself in a chair looking at my phone.

Now that I put my phone away during these events, I am free to roam around, use my sense of curiosity, and hear what others do and how we can work together. It’s only a small change but if you do something similar, you will find your ability to meet new people in any situation will increase.

4. It can give you more time

As I calculated the time that my phone, email and social media were taking I didn’t realise the magnitude of the final number. The reason this phenomenon occurs is that we often let technology distract us while doing something else, travelling somewhere or in-between tasks.

What this does is make us think sub-consciously that the act of being engaged with our technology is not using up our time, but it is. Actively each day I was spending hours, particularly on social media, using up the little free time I had.

“When I went back and reflected on my previous goals, I realised that the reason I didn’t have time to achieve them at the level I wanted was because of the technology drain on my time”

I am not joking when I say that I could look up something for work about technology trends, and before I know it, I could be watching some stupid video on YouTube with a person dancing (which is not my thing) – it’s worrying how quickly this behaviour now happens to us.

As a blogger, this issue is compounded further because to write these articles I need to use a laptop. This laptop needs to have internet access to be able to Google word meanings, get photos, look up quotes, or confirm specific information that is mentioned in the article. This may just be an excuse I am telling myself, but I haven’t yet found the solution to this problem.

In your own creative work and hobbies, it’s important to address this same issue. There is no magic solution but being conscious of the problem is a start.

5. Being continuously available lowers your social status

In some Asian countries, putting a phone on the table before a meeting shows that you are lower in status. You are demonstrating through this small act that you are constantly at the beck and call of others and not significant enough to be fully present in the room.

Think about leaders like Tony Robbins, Oprah and Richard Branson; would they let their life be directed by someone else and be answerable to everyone else? If you want to play life at a higher level, then you need to think about what other leaders are doing and adopt some of their standards.

Adopting the standard of keeping technology a distant second to the person who is directly in front of you will communicate that you’re powerful, influential, and give you back control. It will help you create new levels of rapport and bring you closer to everyone you engage with. Try it!

In Japan, using your phone on public transport is a sign of disrespect and it’s like spitting on the ground in front of someone – you just don’t do it. The new belief you need to put into action is that overusing technology takes away your freedom and that’s one human right you want to retain.

***A Recap Of Possible Solutions***

Below are some options you can try to do on your own technology detox. Don’t feel you need to follow them exactly, but they should provide a guide and some ideas you can try. Manipulate them as needed to fit your own life and work schedule.

– Turn the phone off on weekends and after business hours (that’s 7 pm for me)
– Put the phone in another room so you can hear if it rings but so you won’t look at it for everything else
– Delete apps like Facebook if needed and only view them on your computer
– Turn off all notifications on your phone except the phone ringing tone
– Spend time at the end of your day, or when most of your energy is used up, to do all social media and email at once

So do you need a technology detox? Is it taking over your life like it was in mine? Leave a comment below or shoot me a note on Facebook or Twitter which I will open outside of detox times ☺

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship.You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Toño

    Feb 12, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I didn’t get the point at first when I looked up the name of this article but then just smiled once I’ve read, carefully taking my time to reflect on it. Last year I spent thinking about what to do with my life, and being a hard-to-choose-the-direction person, I wanted a life full of wild nature, travelling around with now tech available, on the other hand, I wanted to live in abundance, comfort, having things like laptops, iMacs, iPads etc around me.

    I actually do those technology detox from time to time, but in a more small way, as I don’t own so many gadgets (even though it is an extremely hard day if I do not have internet at my home for ssome reason, life just stops for me really..). I don’t use my phone as much as many others, because it simple and won’t allow to do many cool features. I also don’t use social media (that’s the reason I still do not follow you on facebook, Tim as I do not have an account :)), as I see regularly how my colleagues and friends are so addicted to it and use most of their free time to check on instagram, fb or whatever platform their like.. However, I do like to see other people’s accounts for inspiration, motivation, valuable information. I enjoy youtube mostly as there are people I love to watch but again, due my active lifestyle I watch it only during morning preparations or before my sleep time. You need balance in every area of your life, and technology can be your good friend or worst foe around, if you will not use it wise.

    I love the idea of getting yourself out of technology addiction, but sometimes you just feel so alone and restrained from others. It is also my sounds wild for people that you don’t use facebook or don’t have tons of selfie on your phone. I still have that kind of friends and I still desire their attention and company. And I know I should change that and ‘find the tribe that reflect my vibe’, so to speak 😀 We attract what we feel, and it better be something really good!

    Thank you for great message and telling your own experience, Tim! Highly appreciate that and love to hear more from you. Take time to reflect and I believe you’ll get back your time, as Einstein said ‘the formulation of the problem is often more essential than its solution’, so you’re half-way through 😉

    Stay well and have a wonderful day!

    • Tim Denning

      Feb 13, 2016 at 1:03 am

      Toño my good friend I am glad you already do technology detox’s right now. My recommendation would be to try and take it to the next level and do them on the weekends as well. If you are feeling alone I would recommend going to see friends rather than connecting with them virtually.

      Chat again soon chief.

      Tim

  2. Maggie

    Feb 10, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    All of these are such important points to make, but I think number four is one of the more valuable. You don’t realize how much time you waste on frivolous technology use until you decide to give it up. I know a lot of people who could benefit from this article – I think there are some cases when tech and social media can do a lot more harm than good.

    • Tim Denning

      Feb 11, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Totally agree Maggie and thanks for sharing your views 🙂

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Success Advice

Why You Should Prefer Emails to Phone Calls if You Want to Be More Productive

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productivity tips
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“Email” and “productivity” rarely go together in a sentence. Emails have been declared as one of our largest time wasters. A McKinsey report stated that people spend around 2.6 hours each day responding to emails. That’s 13 hours a week, 52 hours a month and over 60 days a year! Imagine what you could’ve achieved in 60 days!

Emails also negatively affect our cognitive resources. When we think of responding to them while doing other important tasks, it takes up to 23 minutes and 15 seconds after being disrupted to return to full attention to a current task. Imagine how much our cognition and productivity gets fractured when we get distracted over and over again.

Constant emailing also drains us mentally. And at the end of a day, we realize that we’ve achieved nothing worth mentioning. With a phone call, you can sort issues and solve problems quickly, right? In theory, you’re right. But we live in a practical world where many variables come into play.

Below are three variables that make phone calls adversely affect our productivity, and why emails are a better alternative:

1. Wasting Time

Most “five-minute conversations” can quickly turn into 35-minute calls because people ramble about irrelevant aspects. This derailment, several times a day, severely limits the limited time and energy you have for important tasks.

Emails, on the other hand, force writers to streamline their thoughts and stick to the point. Emails can save you plenty of time and energy because you avoid lengthy phone calls. The constant strife to keep your own emails short and crisp also makes you a clearer thinker, which rewards you in other aspects of your life.

“It’s better to waste money, than it is to waste time. You can always get more money.” – Hal Sparks

2. Inaccurate Responses

An unexpected phone call can catch me caught off guard on a topic. I might respond emotionally or give an answer that doesn’t do justice to what I want to share. In a world dominated by panic buttons and fire-fighting, these don’t just stress me out but the caller as well.

Emails give me flexibility to prepare a coherent response and share it when I’m satisfied. If I feel a surge of emotion, I can sleep over the thought and share a better (more rational) response the next day. Many page-long email responses to emails that upset me have turned into a simple “thank you for your email” the next day.

3. Constant Back-and-Forth

Phone calls often are ineffective to solve business problems. Accounting for multiple people, their views, their timelines… One phone call can quickly turn into three.

Emails are quicker and more effective than even conference calls. They let you communicate with multiple people at the same time. You can share information, assign tasks and give status updates while being as specific as possible.

You must be wondering, “What about back-and-forth emails then? Why do we waste precious time on them?” Yes, email has earned a bad rap. But it’s not because of the medium; it’s because we handle it ineffectively.

A Better Approach to Emailing

For most people, constantly refreshing the inbox is part of the daily to-do list. It keeps them busy and gives them a kick of dopamine – the feel-good chemical.

Ironically, this quest to remain busy makes people compromise on taking action that can move them forward. Using emails prudently, rewards you with plenty of energy and mind space to focus on tasks that truly matter.

Here are three steps that benefited me without succumbing to the side effects of email:

1. Checking Them Less

I check emails just 3 times a day – at 9:30 AM, 12:00 PM, and 4:30 PM. If you don’t have the luxury to do the same, you can start by checking your emails for ten minutes at the end of each hour. Most senders expect a response in a little over an hour. So they won’t mind a slightly delayed response. This gives you 45 undisturbed minutes each hour to work on your core tasks.

2. Responding Quickly

People delay responding to emails at least 37% of the time, which turns finding emails and responding to them into additional tasks that cost time and lead to attention residue. Most emails take under two minutes to respond. When you can respond to an email, do so instead of putting it off. This won’t just put your mind at peace, it’ll also reduce the number of “did-you-see-this” follow-up emails in your inbox.

“I do love email. Wherever possible I try to communicate asynchronously. I’m really good at email.” – Elon Musk

3. The If-Then Technique

The If-Then technique helps you address multiple scenarios at once. For instance, an email that says, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM?” becomes, “Can we meet at 3:00 PM? If not, please advise three other times that work for you.”

This technique is also effective when you want to suggest ideas or provide instructions on alternative steps. For example, “Here’s Plan A. If it doesn’t work, connect with [name] and ask for [specific information]. If you don’t get what you need, inform me.”

I’ll admit. This sounds like more work in the current moment, but it drastically cuts down the number of trail mails, confused correspondences, and fire-fighting instances that occur due to miscommunication.

The If-Then formula is the single most effective technique I’ve learned from The 4-Hour Workweek. All of this doesn’t mean that you abandon phone calls, In fact, it’s better to use the phone for sensitive topics or if an email conversation gets dragged. But remain mindful to not let phone calls waste your time.

If you want to pursue a meaningful life, place a premium on your time. Do things that create time for you to pursue meaningful actions and avoid doing what pulls you away from them. In the knowledge economy, this is the key to success.

Do you prefer email or talking on the phone? Share your thoughts below!

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4 Questions You Need to Answer Before You Reach the Level of Success You So Desperately Crave

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It’s normal that every person in the world wants to reach success and happiness. Yet, everyone defines both of these things differently. For some, success is making a whole bunch of money while for others this can be to become a good parent. Happiness is defined differently as well. Some people need to own a jet, boat and 3 cars to be truly happy, while others are happy just to be able to wake up in the morning.

It doesn’t matter how you define success and happiness, the truth is, you want to achieve them both. But, to be able to reach success and happiness, you need to answer 4 questions for yourself.

Here are the 4 questions you need to answer before you can achieve success and happiness:

1. Where Are You?

No, not geographically. It doesn’t matter where you live. What matters is where are you in life. Where are you in your way to success and happiness. Let’s say you are lost in the woods. You know exactly where you want to go, but you don’t know where you are. Even a map doesn’t help you with that.

The same is true in life. You may have a goal, but until you truly define where you are in the moment, you can’t move toward this goal. So, step 1 on your way to success and happiness is to define where you are right now.

“Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn

2. Where Do You Want to Go?

When you define where you are in life, then you can think of where you want to be.

There’s this saying:  When you don´t know your final destination, you´ll end up somewhere you didn’t want to be. Until you don’t know clearly where you want to be in life and who you want to become, your life doesn’t have a true purpose.

Without purpose, there´s no motivation. Without motivation, there´s no energy. And without energy, you´re not living, you´re just existing. I am sure you know someone who looks like a walking corpse everytime you see them. Do you think this person lives a successful and happy life? Most likely not.

So, step 2 on your way to success and happiness is to clearly define your goal. What do you want to accomplish and who do you want to become?

3. Why Do You Want It?

Okay, you know the basics. You know where you are and where you want to be. But, as Rocky Balboa said, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.” And as you already know, life usually doesn’t go according to your plan. There will be hard times and to overcome those and not give up, you need to know WHY you do what you do.

You need to know WHY you want to accomplish your goals. When you answer this for yourself, you don’t struggle so much to motivate yourself. You will be motivated every minute of every day.

So, as a step 3, sit down and think of WHY you want to accomplish your goals. What’s the big purpose?

“We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” – Tony Robbins

4. How Are You Going to Get There?

And finally, how are you going to get there? What’s your plan? You may know where you are, where you want to be and why you want to do it, but until you truly understand how you are going to get there, there won’t be much success and happiness in your life.

For example, you want to become a bodybuilder. You want to do it because you want to have big muscles and you want to look fit. But, you have no idea how to work out, how to build muscle and how to lose fat. Do you think, you´re going to be happy? No. As Tony Robbins says, “true happiness comes from progress.”

To make progress, you need to have a specific plan; how to get from point A (where you are) to point B (where you want to be). So, as a step 4, sit down and make a specific plan for how you’re going to get what you want in life.

In order to reach success and happiness, there are 4 questions you need to answer for yourself. Without answering them, you´re not going to  get ahead in life, you´re just bouncing around. Success and happiness never come from just bouncing around in life.

Good news is, that these questions are really simple. It won’t take much time to answer them. Just be aware of where you are and where you want to be. Don´t forget to understand why you are pursuing your dream and finally, how are you going to get what you want.

Answer these 4 simple questions today and you won’t struggle with finding success and happiness in life anymore.

Which one of the above 4 questions resonated most with you and why? Share your thoughts and ideas below!

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The Empathetic Heart: How The CHO of VaynerMedia Is Changing The Way We Work

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Claude Silver CHO of Vaynermedia
Image Credit: VaynerMedia

A month after I had joined LinkedIn back in July of 2018, I sent Claude Silver a connection request and began following her content. One day she made a post saying “Ask and you shall receive, what can I do to help you today?”. I commented on that post asking for a 5 minute interview and to my surprise she agreed by asking me to send her a message (I was given a full hour). This was the first example of pure kindness I witnessed from Claude.

The first message you see on Claude’s website is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something. That message spoke to me on an emotional level, and I believe it will speak to you too. I wanted to know how she created such an amazing culture, what being a “culture carrier” meant, and how the employees at VaynerMedia have been changed by her work there.

A culture carrier in Claude’s own words is “someone who is aligned with our values, I can’t teach someone to be kind they have to already be kind. The process of developing a culture carrier takes about 6 months. It’s about bringing people together and having strong core values of kindness and empathy.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of VaynerMedia, is often referred to as a combination of hustle and heart. With the hiring of Claude and the work she has accomplished within the company, it speaks to the level of empathy that can be felt throughout the entire operation.

Although business can be a challenging, tough, and often cut-throat terrain, by putting employees first and providing honest feedback the company has grown to include offices in New York, Chattanooga, Los Angeles and London, and continues to dominate the market.

Below we’ll see 3 different ways the CHO of VaynerMedia is changing the way people work:

1. By being unafraid to share her own story

Claude has been an influential part of breaking the stigma surrounding vulnerability in the business arena. Not only does she openly share her own story, but she sits down with employees to better understand their vulnerabilities and how to use characteristics that previously would have been considered weaknesses as strengths.

When asked what her biggest adventure to date was she replied “Having Shalom (her daughter). I have had an amazing life, I moved, worked hard, landed an amazing job and fell in love but it didn’t come without its challenges.”

Claude is openly gay and is living proof your sexual orientation doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but your character, your track record, and if you leave people a little better off than before you met them. From Claude, business leaders, employees and entrepreneurs can learn to be more open both on social media and in person, allowing them to build more meaningful relationships and connect on a deeper level. A deeper connection can mean more leverage but it also means a more lasting impact on the world.

“Everyone has something they can share. I’m not famous. I don’t have anything that would be newsworthy, but I have stories.” – Tafta Johnson Watson

2. Committing to a strong value system

VaynerMedia has some serious values for such a large company and those values are expected to be upheld by every employee and visitor. Values like kindness, empathy, honesty, hustle and the art of not complaining.

With Claude holding the title of Chief Heart Officer, she is the guiding light for others. When recruiting, she says she “takes the time to evaluate an individual’s talents but most importantly their own heart”.  

Gary Vaynerchuk is quoted as saying:”To me, there’s no debate that kindness is a strength. And it breaks my heart to know that so many people believe it’s a weakness. So many people are afraid that other people will take advantage of their kindness or make them feel “used.” But the truth is, those who take advantage of your kindness are weak on the inside. Feel bad for them, don’t let them make you feel bad about yourself“.

Both Claude and Gary teach aspiring entrepreneurs that it is okay to live with an open heart and that having the strength to commit to and live with a strong value system, will be a powerful tool during the hustle journey. It also allows you to go to bed at night actually liking the person that you are, nothing will kill a business faster than going to bed at night and hating yourself.

3. Listening with action

As mentioned above Claude’s slogan is: People need people. People need people that listen and then do something.  As a woman who wears many hats, she is also an Outward Bound Instructor, taking individuals on amazing adventures in the outdoors.

Taking action on any given day can mean a number of different things but it speaks to her own character and driving force that she is able to not only guide people through the world of office politics but also through the serene and sometimes challenging wilderness.

Claude cultivates an environment of trust by first offering individuals her own trust. It is a huge and vulnerable action that leads to a relationship of love – heart – and productivity. Listening as an action is something that has the power to change an entire organization from an unproductive, toxic environment to one that promotes creativity, passion, inclusion and positivity.

“Relationships are leverage. If you give value to someone else first, you have leverage.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

To get the truest sense of how Claude was changing the way people work, I asked her co-workers to tell me what working alongside Claude has done for them. Here is one of the answers I received:

“During my time working alongside Claude, I’ve really come to appreciate her example of being a good listener. As a society, we tend to praise the power of speaking. But Claude demonstrates on a daily basis that the most important thing everybody wants is to be heard.” – Steve Babcock, Chief Creative Officer VaynerMedia.

I tried looking for images of Claude on her website and I think it speaks to how focused she is on holding space for others, because I couldn’t find a single full sized image of her to use. I googled. Writing this piece has opened me up to evaluate my own values and the way I connect with people in my daily life.

From this article, it is my own hope that entrepreneurs come to the understanding that although tenacity and true grit are really important, the whole of what Claude represents is something to strive towards. The “soft” skills you develop are humongous strengths and to truly impact an entire organization.

What’s the last random act of kindness you did for someone? Share with us below!

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Success Advice

The 7 Secrets of High Achievers Revealed

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We all have goals in life, but very few of us ever learn to consciously set, work on and see our goals through. In our naturalness bias, we marvel at those who have set and reached their goals thinking they have some esoteric abilities that we don’t. We overlook that the final product is the result of a series of mistake-ridden, unrecorded pains. What if we could learn from the process, the habits and rituals of the high achievers? (more…)

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