I’ve always been something of a technological Luddite. In my first fundraising job out of university, my coworkers were simultaneously baffled and fascinated by the fact that I wasn’t on any social media channels, didn’t have Internet access on my phone, and didn’t own a TV. “What kind of Millennial are you?” they would ask.
Times have certainly changed for me. The uptick in my technology use has been largely influenced by my business, which I run entirely through my computer and my phone. I love the work I do and appreciate the vast amount of freedom that my business has brought into my life. But on a fateful day—December 24, 2014 to be exact—I was abruptly reminded of how dependent I am on technology.
It was supposed to be a simple system upgrade. But something went sideways. My then-trusty Mac was in the middle of an operating system update when it crashed. Oh, the horror! I tried frantically to follow the instructions on the screen, but nothing worked. Since I was traveling, and it was Day 1 of my time off, I decided not to deal with it. I closed the lid of the laptop, tucked it in its case and carried on with my day.
A few days after Christmas I decided to call the support line to see if there was any chance of reviving my cold, dead laptop. There was! But I didn’t have the necessary tools to do it myself. “You’ll have to wait until you’re back in Vancouver,” they said. Back in the case it went until I got back from my trip. I finally took it to the repair show last Thursday.
Nearly three weeks without a computer. That seems like an eternity in this day and age. But as the time passed and I resumed work after the holidays, I realized that my computer crashing was the best Christmas present I received. Really, it was!
Being without a computer has been an excellent reminder of how much noise and distraction these little machines bring into our lives. This last week, I have been incredibly focused, writing a great deal and getting much work done with my trusty Moleskin and pen (and occasional access to my email via my boyfriend’s computer). I thought I was going to have a heart attack on Christmas Eve, but instead I find myself feeling liberated and lighter in the New Year.
During this time of personal liberation, I’ve learned a few important lessons I think are worth sharing.
#1: Working on my laptop in the kitchen while visiting family puts up a barrier that prevents conversation. Using a cell phone has a similar effect. Without my laptop in front of me, withering away the time, I invited more conversations. And you know what? I heard some pretty amazing stories!
#2: I don’t need a keyboard to get work done and not having one is no excuse to procrastinate. When I got back to the office last week, I was still (mostly) in analog mode, and had to be creative about how I was getting my work done. I was more effective and focused than in previous weeks. It helped me realize that it’s okay to step away from the computer. I’ll still get work done.
#3: I need to re-evaluate my relationship with technology. This breathing space made me realize just how dependent I had become on my computer. It was a crutch in several ways. Now, I’m very seriously thinking about how I can use my computer less.
I can’t deny that I’m looking forward to the convenience of having my computer back. But things won’t be the same moving forward. I anticipate using even more Moleskins than normal and getting back out into the real world.