New Year, new project, new resolution- My experience of a Digital Detox

By Dawn Money, Senior Consultant

Dawn Money, Senior Consultant at Transform

Well, it’s the end of the first month back at work… New Year, new project, new resolution.

My name is Dawn and I think I may be addicted to Slack.

For those that are yet to become dependent, a brief explanation:

I have worked in IT project management for over 30 years and can still remember the excitement of getting my first car phone. Not even a mobile it was the size of a breeze block and had to be permanently linked to the car battery. So, all of you IPhone owners can stop moaning about battery life to me.

This got me thinking. Although I am still doing a similar job to all those years ago, all the tools I use have significantly changed. Some for the better and some for worse.

Everyone knows the benefits: not being tied to your desk, instant comment and feedback on key decisions, Skype for Stand-up, Slack for instant messaging etc. All help to create a feeling of belonging within virtual teams and allow us to create software at increasing speed.

However, is this digital bombardment an onslaught on my mental wellbeing and ironically a drain on my productivity?

Last year I was working on a fascinating project but with a hard deadline. I had a fantastic Agile team working their little fingers to the bone and as with many developers they tended to keep the same hours as Dracula.

It’s a long time since I would’ve been able to contribute anything helpful with the code, so my role as Scrum Master / Delivery Manager was restricted to sympathy, support and fast decision making.

This coupled with ‘power surges’ that reduce my ability to sleep (fellow ladies of a certain age will sympathise) meant I was lurking on the slack channel at all sorts of ungodly hours. And honestly it became addictive, in the same way as watching people sleeping in the Big Brother household, or Day 4 of an Ashes Cricket- you become worried you might miss something.

Guess what, it’s not good for you existing on 4 hours sleep, and funnily enough all the huge things you worry about at 2am are insignificant at 10am.

I currently belong to around eight slack channels — I know!!

I find it hard to break from people and project teams you shared so much with. The ‘ex-pat / escapee’ conversations, memes and giphy are always so funny and keep you sane in your new project. As well as sharing knowledge, we share pain.

So, I decided New Year, New Project, New Work Resolution:

My phone and any other digital device I can get Slack on do not come to bed with me.

Well, I am a month into the detox and proud to say it is working well (better than the personal resolution of dry January anyway).

Magazines and digital channels are full of articles on the advantages of digital detox so I won’t bore you by repeating all this, but suffice to say it’s working for me.

I knew for work reasons I would never be able to totally give up Slack but being disciplined in leaving my phone and iPad in the kitchen when I go to bed is as they say, ‘one small step’.

Image source: https://ux.useronboard.com/slack-i-m-breaking-up-with-you-54600ace03ea

A period of staying in hotels was harder than at home, but burying my phone deep in my suitcase was successful.

It should also be said my current project is with User Researchers and Service Designers rather than ‘Dracula like developers’ which has allowed me to ease myself slowly into my new habits.

My next project is back in that twilight world and I am sure I will find people who will help feed my addiction but I’m sure I can stay strong.

Now all I need to do is deal with the 4,000 messages in my personal email account … If I ever get a break from Netflix.

By Dawn Money for Women in Digital

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