What a 33-Day Tech Detox Taught Me About Life


Technology has been stealing my time… it was disappearing before my very fingertips.  Does that happen to you, too?

I read Digital Minimalism.  It lit a fire under this mama’s rocker and inspired me to do something about it. A 33 day pause on all optional technology.

A technology detox.

Detox (v) to abstain from or rid the body of toxic or unhealthy substances – or in this case; behaviours.

I wrote more about the reasons I was seriously compelled to overhaul my habits here.

I love self-experiments. Foods. Words. Products. Habits. It’s a favourite of mine. Because experimenting on and learning about myself is a great path healthier and whole-er.

I want to learn to use technology to enhance life, not steal it.

Today, it’s been more than 33 days since I brought tech back

So – what happened? And what’s different?

I wasn’t gone long before Facebook started texting me. And Instagram started emailing me! Neither of those things had happened before. Clearly they “wanted me back.”

That served as evidence to the notion that these things have seriously thought-through strategies and systems to snag more time.

Twitter. Reddit. Snapchat. Whatever your particular poison, your time is their money. Are you giving it on purpose or is an hour gone before you look up?

Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

I missed podcasts!!

I learned these are brain food for me. There are some valuable, helpful, awesome podcasts out there… and they make mundane tasks so much lovelier.

I missed seeing and sharing the good.

I love seeing and following good friends, good leaders and good brands.

And I love sharing good I find along the way. And celebrating great people. It’s something I want to do more of.

I missed the easy connection.

I love how fun and easy it is to connect and keep up with friends and family.  I learned that this is one of my favourite ways to stay connected to people and things I care about. Groups. Events. Fun stuff.

I just really like the connection… Social media is a supplement to real-life relationships, but not a substitute.

I didn’t miss the inflammatory stuff.

I happened to be on “detox” over the majority of Canada’s federal election. Instead of coming across inflammatory articles from right or left wing media outlets, I looked up each party’s platform. I read reputable national news sources (still bias, I know), and I watched the nationally broadcast debate. I got to skip coming across emotionally charged headlines on issues that tend to spin around election time.

I’m all for having important conversations and it’s ok to disagree, but it needs to happen with dignity, respect and a pursuit of understanding. For some reason we’re not good at that online. Although online is a good place to share information, it’s not a good place to argue about it.

I didn’t miss the urge to pick up my phone.

I hadn’t realized it, but I had this urge to do a “quick check” all the time.

The detox squashed it, but it’s coming back rather quickly and I want to keep it at bay.  The solution; less screen time.

I didn’t miss all the pictures I didn’t take.  

I was surprised by this one. I took WAY LESS photos on my tech detox. Days would go by without snapping a shot.

I mean, was I taking pictures before only to share them? And really, what was I going to do with 100+ pictures every week?! I started taking photos of special and even just average family moments I wanted to remember.

I’m learning to take photos because I want to remember the moment, not just because I want to share it.

New Tech Hygiene

Here’s what I’m trying now.

Although tech and social creeps back in SO easily – I’m setting some guardrails for myself.

This isn’t a prescription for everyone else.  It’s what I’ve learned is healthy for me… your guardrails could look different!  I just encourage you to think about what you need.  While fruits and veggies are good for us all, tomatoes might give someone heartburn or strawberries might make someone else itchy.  I think technology guardrails are really needed, but it’s about what is healthy for you – take the journey. It’s worth it. 

I just hope this inspires you!

  1. I’m making a big commitment to myself and my boys: no social media in their presence.

    This is huge. And it is really really hard. And I’ve failed at it a few times already. However, it’s been really worthwhile.  I’m more present.  Less distracted. Less hurried.

    Maybe it’s a non-issue for you but I can rarely resist that “quick check” impulse to check social. And really, why am I doing that?  

    Am I taking their photo and posting it on Instagram for them or for me? Sure, I love sharing pieces of our lives with friends and family, and I hope it encourages people in some way too, but really – do the kids care that I’m doing that? Or do they just see my phone?

    No social media when they are present is a game-changer.

  2. I’m setting and actually abiding by screen time limits built into iOS.

    I’ve made app-specific limits for Instagram and Facebook.  10 minutes for Facebook a day.  It’s all I need to get the most out of my favourite features. And a little more on Instagram because it’s more fun.  Then overall, screen time off after 9pm and before 6am.

    The new IOS has a great feature; the “1 more minute” button. After I’ve used it – that’s it.

    It’s crazy, I’m saving almost an hour a day from what I used to.

  3. I’m keeping ALL notifications off, and messages silenced.

    Did you know you can make messages not even BUZZ? It’s amazing!!  With the exception of a handful of people, my phone never buzzes.

    Now, I’ll look at my phone when I have a minute, not just because it buzzes.

  4. I’m suffocating my scrolling.

    I’m just trying not to scroll. Ever. If I catch myself. I stop.  There are pros and cons to this, but for the most part, it’s been so freeing. 

But I certainly haven’t arrived. I imagine this will always be a tension to manage in making sure technology is enhancing our lives, not stealing it.

Have you experimented with any of these things?

How do you use technology to enhance life and not steal it?

I’d love to read your comments!


Sarah according to Justin – brings a kindness, compassion and empathy to every conversation she finds herself in. She has a remarkable gift for reaching out and leaving others better than when she met them. She’s also a devoted, patient, and loving wife and mother with a passion for seeing God’s love realized in this world.