Old Habits Die Hard... A Creative Way to Unplug

taking photo with cellphone
taking photo with cellphone

I have a confession to make. As hard as I have tried to unplug, the last thing I do before I go to sleep is check my phone. The first thing I do when I wake up is -- you guessed it -- check my phone. These digital check-ins are the bookends of my day. Granted, as Chief HR Officer for a company with 336,000+ employees, it is critical that I'm accessible throughout my day and night. But more often than not, interruptions during the evening or during family time were seldom urgent work situations. Rather, they were non-essential tweets, Facebook posts, nice to know emails and the occasional celebrity update. Throughout the day (and night), my constant connectedness spilled over into meal time, family time and even my sleep time. I'm sure that many of you are nodding your heads as you read this. You can relate!

Recently over 8,000 Accenture people participated in Arianna Huffington's THRIVE O-Course. One of the lessons involved a "Digital Detox". The challenge was set. I was ready to give a try! The advice was simple... just take breaks from technology by weaning yourself off your device for short periods of time (sleeping, exercising, meals, etc.). I decided to give these "little breaks from technology" a try. I'm not going to sugar coat this... it was HARD. Being connected had become so normal for me that breaking the habit, even for a short amount of time, was difficult. But, I persevered. And I liked the change that was slowly happening. My family noticed too. I started sleeping better. I was simply more present in the moments of my life.

I've decided that this principle will take up permanent residency in my life. The THRIVE course itself is over, but the ideas and lessons live on. And for me, I wanted to take my Digital Detox one step further. Taking a step back into the 90s, I purchased a flip phone, with no data service. Below is a picture of my iPhone (with numerous apps) next to my new "tool" to keep technology at bay. During working hours, I will still rely on my iPhone, however, my flip phone will be my device of choice during meals, family time and at night. I'll still be accessible -- but can filter out the non-essentials that were sucking too much of my attention.


I realize that my solution might be extreme and not for everyone. But the important point is that the THRIVE principles live on in a way that works for each individual. In addition, I think it's important for leaders to be transparent about tips and ideas they use to be successful. This transparency can help foster an open environment where employees feel more comfortable asking for what they need to have greater work/life integration and achieve greater success and fulfillment in their own lives. I invite your comments on how you make THRIVE part of every day, and how you unplug to be more present in your own life.