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Why Even Cisco's CTO Takes A Digital Detox

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CISCO CTO
Padmasree Warrior. On Thursday, the CTO explained why she takes a digital detox every week for one full day. (Photo by Jeff Carlick/Bloomberg via Getty Images) | Damon Scheleur
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As chief technology officer of Cisco, Padmasree Warrior oversees more than 20,000 people, is charged with developing new technology and is on the hook for two-thirds of the company’s $46 billion in annual revenue.

Yet even Warrior finds time to put down her smartphone and ignore the Internet for a full day each week.

At Arianna Huffington and Mika Brzezinski's Third Metric conference in New York City Thursday, Warrior explained that two years ago, a nonstop work schedule prompted her to “pull back” and make a drastic change in her routine. Instead of working seven days a week, as she had been, she decided to set aside every Saturday for a “digital detox.” That means no email, no voicemail, and plenty of time dedicated to painting and writing haiku.

“Two years ago I found I was working all the time -- entire Saturdays and Sundays -- to the point where I wasn’t being creative and I felt like I was not making the right decisions,” Warrior explained. “I was trying to keep up with the pace, and I was so focused on the quantity of what I was doing rather than really making quality decisions.”

Now, for 24 hours every weekend, Warrior says she “stay[s] away from technology almost completely.”

“I’ve taken Saturdays to be the day I pull back completely,” said Warrior. “I do things that are more creative and I’ve actually found that helps me when I get back into work to be more thoughtful, and I truly believe that feeding your creative soul is really important to being more analytical.”

Warrior also noted that she takes at least 20 minutes each day to meditate, even while traveling, and requires that every member of her team takes his or her allotted vacation for the year.

Warrior's fellow panelists, who included Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, Sen. Claire McCaskill, Vice President of Google[X] Megan Smith, The Energy Project CEO Tony Schwartz and Co-Founder of the Penny George Institute of Health and Healing Penny George, echoed Warrior’s sentiments about the merits of helping employees make time to take breaks from their work, arguing that doing so helps them to be more successful.

"If you can bust up and find those moments that are so memorable, that’s my form of self-renewal," said McCaskill, who said she and her college-age daughter woke up early Thursday morning to watch "Sex and the City" reruns while eating breakfast in bed.

"We will never forget that," said McCaskill. "I had my renewal moment at the crack of dawn this morning watching Carrie and her shoes."

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