BY JBH

01.28.2016

February: The Slow Tech Challenge

Janell Burley Hofmann, January 28, 2016
journal

The last quarter of 2015 I spent a lot of time on the road. I was all over the US and visited seven Middle Eastern countries in one three week swoop. I was in airports and ubers, buses and hotels, more than I was anywhere else. I’m not going to lie, my most beloved travel partner is my smartphone. We get along so well, that when I’m “gone”, I hardly ever feel completely “away”. We might even get along too well. My phone keeps me connected to my family, to my social networks (all of you!), the global haps and endless info and entertainment. It passes time. It keeps me company. I take lots of pictures and notes and develop soundtracks to the experiences I’m having. It’s also functional – housing my tickets, itinerary, time zones, addresses, calendar, contacts and to do lists. I need this partnership on the road. My phone is my assistant and my BFF.

But when I return from a trip, there is always a great digital transition. At home, my time is not so much my own. I hardly ever sit and wait or rest or prepare for the next thing. Instead, I drop back into family life with such ease, mostly because in a seven person household, it all just happens. It’s like I never left. Work is the same way too. I’m usually right back to catching up at my desk – contracts and follow ups, scheduling and writing. But sometimes, even when the demands of work and family life are occupying my every minute, it’s hard to break up with my smartphone. I still want to cuddle it close in bed like I do on the road or search the never ending stream of info like I do in my transition time. I crave the connect. And even though I know exactly what’s happening, – it is my career to talk about this very thing – I have to be strong and intentional to reset myself back into balance. I just love the internet.

So this January, I set a Slow Tech goal for myself. The first hour upon waking and the last hour before sleep, I went tech free. Before, I would stumble to the kitchen, bleary eyed and fumble for my phone. I would check my work emails (often looking for updates from my international colleagues and partners from overnight), my social networks, my calendar and start reading the endless articles fed to me. I’d jump right into my day, not allowing for a beginning or an end. Now, when 5:45am appears, I greet my sons over their cereal. I make the coffee. I do some laundry. There are approximately 12 – 15 minutes between my sons’ departure for school and my daughters’ feet hitting the floor. Adam and I have had some very lovely discussions during these precious minutes. When you’ve been parenting together for almost seventeen years, a mindful convo at the beginning of each day can feel like its own paradise. It’s the best kind of stuff. The nighttime shutdown has given me space for reading, for talking, for closing down the day. I feel better prepared for sleep. Before it always felt like I had one foot on the ground (or on the web) and ready to go . Ideas, mistakes, FOMO, conquering my wildest dreams – it was never allowed to rest . This Slow Tech challenge has brought some process back to my days. And the rewards ripple into other areas of my life.

I now want to offer The Slow Tech Challenge out to you this February. Partly because I need you. I hit the road again this month and I’ll need to keep the balance. But mostly because I think it raises our awareness, shines a light on our habits, and asks us what we want from our digital lives. This is good. So maybe it’s a small change, maybe a bigger call to action. But it’s up to you. I’d love to hear about it! Tell your friends! Tell your kids! Tell your parents! Tell your coworkers! Let’s Slow Tech ourselves this month and see what happens!

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