24 hour digital detox challenge: what we learnt

It wasn't easy

Following a recent blog we wrote on the importance of digital detoxing, the Bowline team decided to challenge ourselves to 24 hours without technology. Here’s a round up of our experience.


The rules: 

We all downloaded the Moment App onto our phones. This is a really useful free app that automatically tracks how much you use your device each day. 

1. Mobile phones are ok for checking essential email/texts and taking calls but no hours chatting on WhatsApp or text messaging.
2. No social media at all.
3. Refrain from any getting your phone out during the day at work and when interacting with people. This includes everyone — family, colleagues, shopkeepers and waiters.
4. Refrain from holding your device in your hand or keeping it in your pocket when it’s not in use. Store it out of sight elsewhere.
5. Make sure your bedroom is a tech-free zone. Remove all devices and computers. Get another alarm clock for the evening.
6. No TV or Netflix.
7. Playing music on your phone while exercising is ok.
8. Emails and Skype calls during working hours are of course ok!


After the detox was over, we came together to chat about our experience.


The reaction:


Sweet freedom!

There was a mixed response from the team. Some of us felt a lot freer living without our phones for a day and really relished being uncontactable, whilst others felt cut off from our day-to-day social interactions on mobile.


Our attention spans increased

Not using social media was a biggie. We realised just how much we use social media as a gap filler. Without it, we actually had much more time on our hands and didn’t find ourselves mindlessly scrolling through feeds. Equally, with our phones out of sight, we weren’t distracted by notifications and messages and were able to focus way better on the task at hand during working hours. When we were aware of notifications but couldn’t access them, we felt slightly agitated, so phones were best kept completely hidden during the challenge.


“Where’s my phone!?”

We were shocked to realise just how habitual the physical desire to pick up our phones was. We all did this almost subconsciously – with our mobiles out of sight and not on our person, we found ourselves actively panicking “where’s my phone?"

Realising bad habits

We definitely felt at a bit of a loss at certain times of the day, particularly when eating, waiting in a queue or before going to sleep. Yup, we’ve got some baaad habits going on here! Making an active effort to read instead of looking at our phones before bed was really relaxing - we all found that we had a better night’s sleep.

We chatted about just how often we all publicise what we are up to on social media and also how reliant we feel on our mobile phones for certain things (i.e. Google maps and internet access). We reflected on how these habits have the potential to make us more egotistical and at times lazy - when it comes to using our own initiative. 

The results:

As a short 24hr experiment the experience was really valuable. As a team we agreed on some commitments that we’re all going to action going forward:


  • Look for opportunities to leave our phones at home
  • Don’t use phones during meal times or meetings at work
  • Keep phones out of reach, on silent and on night mode in the bedroom
  • Find other ways to fill time and not use our phones as a comfort blanket, particularly in cafes, queues or while waiting for someone. Make better use of spare time.
  • Be happy to do something for yourself and not feel the need to share everything on social


Are you up for taking the challenge? If yes, let us know how you get on!