Bagby Co-Founder Juan Sanchez on Taking Back Control From Distracting Tech

Bagby Co-Founder Juan Sanchez on Taking Back Control From Distracting Tech

At Freedom, we love our users – not just because they use our product, but because they’re cool – cool people working on cool stuff. Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, best-selling authorseditorsdeveloperscartoonistsdesigners, academic researchersexplorers, and entrepreneurs – the Freedom community is packed with curious, creative, and efficient go-getters. We love to share their stories and advice, because how better to learn about productivity than from the productive?

Meet Juan Sanchez.

Juan Sanchez is CEO and Co-Founder of Bagby, a  line of digital wellness solutions aimed at helping people unplug by creating phone-free spaces at work and home. Their products range from a sleeping bag for your cellphone to analog alarm clocks. Juan spent the first 12 years of his career as a digital and social media marketer (@juanmarketing). However, after founding Bagby with his wife back in 2017, he made decided to leverage his background and expertise to raise awareness for phone addiction and the dangers of technology overuse.

As an entrepreneur, member of the Digital Wellness Warriors, dreamer, and doer enjoying his new life on the other side of the digital distraction equation – we decided to sit down with him to learn a little more about how he finds the focus to do what matters.


How did a digital marketing consultant become a co-creator of Bagby, a digital wellness solution? Essentially, how did you get to where you are today?

I know It feels contradictory, but being on one side or the other of the digital distraction equation is often a very narrow line.

My background is actually in digital and social media marketing. I hold two master’s degrees in digital marketing and I spent about 12 years both as a freelancer and in the agency world working for international brands around the planet (Spain, France, Luxembourg, Singapore and Southeast Asia, Los Angeles). One day like any other day, I had a wakeup call and I felt that I needed a change; I felt that I wanted to do something more purposeful that can help people. We can say I went from being part of the problem (people creating digital distraction) to focusing on reducing it. I’m not going to lie, somehow, I felt guilty and I wanted to do something to reverse the situation. It’s better late than never.

The interesting thing is that many people I’ve connected with in this new space of digital wellness / wellbeing have gone through a similar process.

I do, however, think things are never black or white. For example, now I’m leveraging all that digital marketing expertise and knowledge to raise awareness for the digital wellness cause and the dangers of addictive technology. I don’t think I would have ever been able to launch and develop Bagby without my previous digital marketing consultant life.

I know It seems paradoxical, but I feel like I’m now in the same stage with digital wellness that I was with digital marketing (Viral and Buzz marketing) when I started back in 2006. And that’s very exciting!

 

As a consultant and business owner, how do you stay productive, motivated, and focused?

What works very well for me is to define a big vision and group the tasks I’d like to achieve in 3 levels of priority every week. The tasks with the highest priority level generate the highest levels of satisfaction when accomplished. I try to set a max of three a week and it’s a way to reward myself and the team I work with. Secondary the less important tasks are often more tactical but they need to be finished, too. My goal is to accomplish between 75-85% of these every week.

Additionally, since I find myself in a very similar situation than when I started with digital marketing in 2006; working at the beginning of the curve before everything becomes mainstream (which is where I see this space heading in the future) brings me a lot of motivation and joy. Indeed, this was one of the reasons I lost some motivation for digital & social media marketing. When I started in 2006 everything was very new and very explorative; today this discipline has already reached maturity. For me, every new discipline has about ten years of joy before it becomes “baroque”. It’s like art!

 

Do you have a routine or a work ritual that helps you stay focused and productive? If not, what does an average work day look like for you?

Well, my morning double espresso plus a 10-15 min workout help me wake up. Additionally, running 10K a week, going for a bike ride or playing soccer help me decompress so I can get back to focusing on my work and making better business decisions.  Finally, I try to do quick 10-minute meditation sessions to keep me focused,  and most importantly, I spend time with my 1-year-old daughter Luna. She keeps me grounded and happy. She inspires me daily to become a better person.

 

At what point did you realize that tech/apps/sites were taking a toll on your productivity and time? Or, when did you know that you had to do something about it?

Actually, Bagby was born to give a solution to an issue on the personal side of things. The idea of starting a #PhoneFreeBedroomChallenge to reconnect with my partner was the inception of creating Bagby and changed my career direction forever.

I recommend everybody download an app like Moment (It’s the one I use), to do some research or to read the book “How to Break Up with Your Phone” by Catherine Price in order to realize the danger of technology overuse. I think it’s very important to go through the “Wake-up” phase Catherine features as the first phase (second is called “The Break-up”) in her amazing book.

In addition to this, as an ex-smoker and having dealt with the online betting addiction of my twin brother, I see many similarities between smartphone addiction and any other type of addiction or epidemic. I always say that smartphone addiction is the new tobacco or the biggest epidemic after sugar and cigarettes in the last 25 years. If you think about it, you don’t go to a friend’s house and get asked to put your phone away as you would get asked to put out a cigarette that you’re smoking in the living room. For me, these situations happen everywhere. We need more tangible / physical reminders, otherwise, we end up finding it “normal,” or socially acceptable  to see people taking selfies, walking while hooked to their phones, “phubbing”, etc. Not that long ago, it used to be considered “normal” to smoke at home, in coffee-shops or restaurants, even on the bus or the plane. I believe it’s our job, as entrepreneurs, to challenge that status quo.

 

Bagby digital wellness

What are your biggest distractors?

I believe my phone is definitely my biggest distractor. Smartphones are great tools but we tend to spend more time hooked than we should. Again, I don’t think smartphones are the problem but the way they are designed to keep us engaged is. The big distraction happens when we continue to scroll and engage without a purpose, or at least, when we suddenly get lost and find ourselves, literally, wasting our time.  Definitely social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are at the top of the distraction. Freedom sessions works very well to block them.

 

Again, I don’t think smartphones are the problem, but the way they are designed to keep us engaged is.

 

What resources or tools do you use daily and have found most beneficial to your productivity and working process?

Lately, I’m kind of becoming a bit of an old school guy so I love writing in my notebook and using my Bagby. Actually, (I know it sounds crazy these days), I’ve been handwriting a personal note to each customer since we launched and people really value it.

That said, today we can find many great tools in the market that I still use and benefit from. Here is my list of productivity tools that I use on a normal basis:  Sprout Social, Google Suite, Slack, Freedom, Calm, Trello, Teckpacker (manufacturing) and Calendy.

 

What project are you currently most excited about?

This is an exciting question.
One of my main tasks over the last 6 months has been moving Bagby from a couple-centric product to a more mindfulness / home décor solution. Actually, we have just launched the new website (with ecommerce) with the updated branding.

Bagby digital wellness

Currently, our two biggest bets are the redesign of our Bagby Social (available for pre-order in 3 different sizes with a 50% off) and our new and recently launched Anti-Phubbing Bagby Bands, a simple yet, effective solution to remind people to look up at the world instead of at their phones. This new product is perfect in situations like having a coffee with friends or colleagues, mindful events or during a social gathering at home. I’m confident it going to become a hit.

Bagby Phone bands

We want to strengthen our new positioning as “Digital wellness with a human soul” and messaging “Welcome back” (to calm, focus, etc.) and develop its relevance. We are not here to add more unnecessary technology but instead creating beautifully crafted and welcoming reminders that real connections start the moment we put our smartphones away and we proudly celebrate that. Our aim is to develop digital-free and simple solutions that people use in their homes and work spaces and become a part of their everyday life and home decor. We want people to use Bagby because they build a meaningful relationship with it.Bagby digital wellness

Additionally, we have two really exciting projects in the pipeline. First, we are tightening our relationship with the Digital Wellness Warriors group which is a great initiative. Secondly, we are developing a new digital wellness program for people to join. Offered at three tiers the idea is to bring an engaging and effective framework to help people unplug and support them to celebrate their success by sharing their experience with their communities. I believe this is going to be a game changer.

How do you find a balance between being connected and overwhelmed?

I basically set up reminders with Bagby and times where I don’t check my phone. At home for instance, besides a phone-free bedroom, we don’t allow the use of our phones after 10pm and we often do a fully unplugged day on Sundays.

To be honest, it’s scary to see how much my 1-year-old daughter loves the smartphone already so we want to set boundaries now.

What do you do outside of your work routine that helps you stay productive? 

As I highlighted before, I feel that both exercise and meditation are great routines that help me stay productive, I, also, aim to drink three liters (0.8 Gallons) of water every day.

Where are you currently based?

We are currently based in Raleigh, NC. We moved from LA about a month ago. Raleigh is a fantastic city, very welcoming and growing rapidly.


 

Juan Sanchez

 

To learn more about Bagby, Juan, or the #PhoneFreeBedroomChallenge, visit their site at Bagby.co