What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

If you are like the majority of people in America you start your day by checking your phone. In fact, 80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth. (IDC Research).

I am “old enough” to remember life without cell phones and the internet, but that doesn’t mean my brain hasn’t adjusted to technology overload.

Until just recently my IPhone never left my side. I would end and begin every single day checking my phone. I knew it probably wasn’t ideal, but it had become a habit I did without even thinking.

My biggest vice? EMAIL! I have three accounts, so if I didn’t have any email in one, I would move onto the other two. There was almost disappointment if there were no new messages, which was rarely the case.

It really hit me when one evening when I left my phone at my office. I realized it about 5 minutes into my commute. Normally I would have turned around, but my wife had dinner plans and I was already short on time. I actually started to panic as my mind imagined life without my cell phone.

Then it hit me. I went 20 years without a cell phone, am I not capable of making it 12 HOURS without my phone?

Full disclosure: my wife actually swung by my office on her way to dinner to pick up my phone. I didn’t even make it 12 hours.

That is when I decided to take a closer look at how I used technology.

Maybe it is because I am about to turn 40, (no I am not going through a midlife crisis), or maybe because I have young children, but when I came across a poem titled Slow Dance by child psychologist David L Weatherford it really hit me.

SLOW DANCE by David L. Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

The author wrote this poem over 20 years ago – before the widespread use of the internet, email, text messages and social media, but is probably even more appropriate today.

I realized that somewhere along the way, I had started letting technology use me instead of me using it.

I now do my best to put my phone aside after 8pm. I no longer check my phone like a crack addict first thing in the morning to see if I had received some earth shattering email that required immediate attention. In fact, I am currently experimenting with checking email just three times a day instead of constantly hitting Send/Receive.

The results thus far have been wonderful!

I urge you to ask yourself. Are you dancing too fast? If so, how can YOU slow down?

Your partner in success,

Josh Paulsen