Training & Development

Quint’s Column: Take a technology break


Need a break from technology? It is OK to take one. In fact, it may be good for you and others.

During Thanksgiving week, I put on my voice message that I was taking a technology break and provided contact information in case of emergency.

The people who called during the break weren’t perturbed about my absence, instead they asked the same question. How did it go?

Quint Studer.

How does a person who seems to be connected to email, text messaging and social media go cold turkey? This even included my iPad.

Like any change, it was very difficult at first. I binged on the above items until the cutoff time came. It also helped that due to my location, connectivity was difficult and costly. I feel this was helpful those first 24 hours.  Letting go of any habit is difficult. So, what was the week like? It was really good for several reasons. Some are obvious and some are not as evident.

Letting go is hard in almost all situations. There is the feeling that one does not want a person to fail or for something to go wrong. Anyone who has ever dropped their child off on the first day of school knows what a mixed bag of emotions that is.

You could feel bad If your child hangs on to you, cries and begs you not to leave. Or maybe your child says “you can go now “and seems just fine. As parents we want the latter, however there can be that tug of the fact that “they don’t they need me.”

Without realizing it, we can fall into the trap of creating a dependency on us that may not be the best for the child or the parent.

The same holds true in the workplace.

In my decades of working for businesses, and then coaching businesses, at times there are those managers/executives who appear to want the company to be co-dependent on them. “What if the top boss finds out the department does just fine without me?”

There is silent messaging for these worried executives. They could start taking credit for the work of others, push others to make them look good or hold on to the control reins so tight people are very limited in what actions they can take. This causes bottlenecks, slow responses, and even worse, can send the message to staff that they are not trusted.

Here are some advantages to this tech break:

  1. You find out just how addicted you are to the connection. One often does not know the extent of a habit until they attempt to stop it.
  2. The amount of time you are spending on your phone, iPad, computer and on social media becomes more evident. There are apps now to monitor use and send the user the actual time spent on one’s phone and on what sites. Has time ever slipped away from you when on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?
  3. For me, after that first day, life seemed to be more relaxing. After 48 hours, it was almost euphoric not to feel so tied to the outside world.

So, a tech break is nice, but what’s the biggest win? It is with those who are left to run things in your absence.

The message is that “you are trusted and don’t need me.”

It also provides a window on such things of how well you have set up the organization to run. If things run great, that is the real win. If there are issues it provides a mirror on what training is needed, the standard operating procedures that need to be in place as well as the other operational needs.

It opens the opportunity to recognize people on moving things along in your absence.

With things went well while you disconnected, you can keep it going and focus on other needs in the organization you can help with.

There are many advantages of letting go, including wins for the person letting go — and for those entrusted to make decisions and act while you’re away.