Justin Ricklefs


Device Addiction: A Confession

I am at my worst when I allow technology to run my life.  More directly, when I spend more time with my iPhone than the more important things in my life.

Tim Ferriss refers to cell phones as a digital leash and recommends one full day a week where you take your leash off by turning off your phone.

I have done every single one of these in the last week, and I’m certainly not proud of any of them:

  • Checked Twitter before checking on my kids in the morning.
  • Been more concerned with my likes on Instagram than the conversation Brooke and I were having.
  • Texted, checked Twitter, checked Instagram and read a blog post while driving.
  • Listened to a podcast on headphones at lunch by myself in a public place.
  • Checked emails while sitting in meetings at work.
  • Talked on the phone while my son fished right beside me.
  • While driving up to the house after work, I stayed on a phone call in the driveway for 5 extra minutes while my kids waited to welcome me home.
  • Sat on a park bench and looked at my phone while my kids actually played at the park.
  • Sent emails from my phone while my youngest two children were watching a show on my lap.
  • Logged into Brooke’s Pinterest account to see how many people re-pinned her pin about my blog.
  • Played Words with Friends while in the bathroom.
  • Walked to a lunch meeting on a beautiful day and stared at my phone almost the entire way.
  • Looked at blog metrics on Google Analytics multiple times per day as if some magical thing was going to happen.

I could keep going, but you get the point.  As bad as this list is, I’m actually making progress.  It used to be far worse.

I’ve realized though that while business, engagement and community happens online for sure, it should never come at the expense of where it’s happening right in front of me.

My reflex to put the device down and be more engaged in my physical reality is growing.  I’m starting to look up at the sky instead of down at my phone.  Starting to tweet less and listen more.

Don’t hear me say that social media is bad, in fact I’m in the other camp.  I believe our ability to create, share, inspire and connect has never been greater in the history of the world.

But don’t let the unintended consequences of addiction to a device become your reality.

I’m a work in progress clearly but practically speaking, I’m starting to do more of this list instead of the list above:

  • Run every morning without my phone or headphones.
  • Put my phone in a different room when I get home.
  • Leave my phone at my desk during meetings in the office.
  • Close the laptop entirely when Brooke and I are having a conversation.
  • Look people in the eye when they are speaking.
  • Refuse to take my phone out of my pocket during a lunch meeting.
  • Have at least one commute a day with no phone calls, podcasts or radio.
  • Read a physical book instead of a blog.
  • Walk to my colleague’s office to ask a question instead of sending them an email.
  • Go places without a camera so I play with my kids instead of take pictures of them.

What tips do you have to be more present and engaged at work and at home?  I need your help.

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