17 Observations From a Technology-Free Walk

by DJ Waldow on January 12, 2012 · 11 comments

DJ Waldow Tweet

I just returned from a 78-minute, technology-free* walk.

I had to go to the bank to deposit a few checks, then decided to keep walking around my neighborhood. As the tweet says above, I needed to recharge. Other then a few text messages (see below), I did not look at my phone. No email. No Facebook. No Twitter. No calls.

This is what I observed:

  1. Gasoline-powered automobiles are loud and smelly.
  2. There are not a lot of other people walking around in the late afternoon.
  3. People use the drive-thru at Wendy’s at all times of the day.
  4. There is a utility pole in my neighborhood with hundreds of tacks and nails in it.
  5. Many people are dumping their Christmas trees on the curb for pick up this week.
  6. Not too many houses still have Christmas lights on them.
  7. Dogs tend to bark when you walk by them.
  8. If you smile and say hello to someone as you approach them, they are likely to return the favor.
  9. A good pair of sunglasses helps on a sunny day.
  10. Walking downhill can be just as tough as walking uphill.
  11. My right knee is not at 100%.
  12. There is a house in my neighborhood that has a water fountain in it’s front yard.
  13. There are some beautiful houses in my neighborhood.
  14. Most people are not home in the middle of the day.
  15. The house two down from ours is under contract (finally).
  16. My dog greets me at the door like she hasn’t seen me in years.
  17. I need to go on more technology-free walks.

*I sent & replied to a few text messages – one to coordinate with my sister for a Skype chat with my niece tonight (she turned 9 today) and one with my wife figure out who was picking up Eva from daycare.

I left my house with a lot on my mind. I returned recharged, refocused, and ready to tackle what’s ahead. For those that know me, you know that I love technology. I love that we are just one click away from connecting with just about anyone in the world. That being said, I think too often we are tethered to that technology (myself included). Always checking. Always updating. Always sharing. Always seeing what we may have missed. As Chris Brogan wrote last month, You’re Not As Busy As You Think.

It’s okay to walk away sometimes. Check that. It’s critical to walk away sometimes. Your mind, your body needs it.

Do me a favor? Try it sometime in the next few days. Just walk, technology-free.

DJ Waldow
Waldow Social


OK, I took your advice and went for a long walk along the main drag of Clearwater Beach, and the pier minus any phone. Heres what i discovered: There are a whole shitload of fishing boats for hire, I can't eat 10 red licorice pinwheels without having a stomach ache, and 20 mile an hour winds of the gulf makes 65' weather feel like 50'.

Jokes aside, it was great, cleared my head, and i think Ill make it a practice to do from now on. Thanks.


@djwaldow Great post and recommendation. Definitely need to take more of these walks. :)


I try and do this every day - I take my greyhound for his after lunch walk (he comes to the office with me) and we walk around for about 20 minutes. It is just so darn calming :)


I do this every day I work at my office, so between 3 - 4 days a week. Not quite 78 minutes, but it's about a mile from my bus stop to my office front door. When I'm walking to work, or walking back up to Madison's Capitol Square to catch my bus home, I don't look at my phone at ALL. Completely disconnected for those 20 minutes, and it's necessary in both ways, since I spend my entire work day doing Web development, email, or social -- completely plugged in. On the way in, it helps to just reset my mind, since I'll have just spent my 40-minute bus commute on my iPad. On the way out, it's a way of stepping back from the digital world and getting back into the real one.

djwaldow moderator

@wwaldow Thanks, Dad! I knew I could count on you for a bit of levity. I tried to add a bit in this post too, but I'm not really into licorice.

djwaldow moderator

@kirstenwright I have a boxer/lab mix. I work from home. Why am I not doing this every day? Ha. May be time to start!

djwaldow moderator

@timbrechlin Love that you do that, Tim. Every day, huh? Maybe I need to build this into my EVERY day...


djwaldow. Every day I'm in downtown Madison, that is, which is usually Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with an occasional Wednesday (like yesterday) or Friday. (The curse of part-time employment.)

It helps, a lot. I used to have a really big problem with taking a step back and re-centering myself, but once I started taking those 20-22 minutes (longer with snow, like today!) each way as a temporary disconnection, it has really helped to get myself in a better mindset, not only at my office but on the way back to my home life.

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