Authentic &


Matt Douglas, Founder and CEO of Sincere Corporation

Completely Disconnected: A Tech-Free Week

By the time you read this, I’m a few days into the one week of the year that I try to completely disconnect from all technology. Some people can’t believe that I’m able to do this (and think that I won’t actually disconnect), and this year I’ve found it to be harder than ever to wrap everything up before I disconnect. Nevertheless, after a lot of preparation, I have completely disconnected.

It was harder than ever to disconnect this year because Punchbowl has grown a lot in the past year. Consider all of the various people that I had to prepare for my tech-free week:

1) My employees and contractors, including our bookkeeper

2) The Punchbowl Board of Directors

3) Our key customers and close partners, such as the great folks at Oriental Trading

4) Future partners, especially in cases where I’m currently in active negotiations

5) Our service providers including our ad representation, commerce partners, and technology providers

With all of these different groups, I used the same approach. Whether in-person, on the phone or in email for the past week I’ve simply communicated “I’m completely disconnecting next week to spend some time with my family (from August 14-22). I know it can be inconvenient for me to be out of touch, but I need to refresh. In my absence, Sean (Punchbowl co-founder) can handle anything that comes up. I’ll be back in the office on Monday, August 23rd — hopefully relaxed and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead.”

I feel confident in my ability to disconnect and I know that Punchbowl will run just fine without me. We have a talented group of individuals who know where we are headed as a company and know how to execute the plan. I often joke with Sean about my tech-free week – I tell him that the only reason he should contact me is if “the website kills somebody.” Everything else can wait.

So what does it mean to disconnect completely for a tech-free week? It means that I won’t be checking my email, writing/reading blogs, or looking at Facebook or Twitter (if you’re reading this as a result of my status update on Wednesday, allow me to introduce you to FutureTweets). It also means that my laptop will be shutoff for the week and that my iPad will remain in a drawer. I won’t carry my cell phone and I will change the voicemail message to encourage people to send me an email and only leave a message if it’s *urgent* (note: I have a long memory for people who ignore my voicemail message and leave non-urgent messages). I will periodically check my voicemail to see if there are any urgent voicemails, and I’ll use my phone to make calls when needed. I will watch TV periodically, but I try to ignore news channels. I don’t read newspapers either during my off the grid week.

My view this week

Instead, I’ll spend time reading books (the paper kind), spend time with my family without email or cell phone interruptions, and I’ll relish the moments as my mind stops trying to multi-task all day. I’ll stare at the sky and the ocean, I’ll write down random thoughts that come into my head, and I’ll enjoy a few meals slowly and leisurely — taking the time to taste the food.

When I come back, I hope to be refreshed, recharged, and relaxed. And when I am, I’ll know that completely disconnecting was once again worth it.

If you’ve never tried to completely disconnect for a tech-free week, give it a try. You’ll be glad you did. Have a great week everyone.

©2023 Matt Douglas