I recently experienced this for the first time. I was having dinner with a couple of my friends when it suddenly hit me that we hadn’t spoken in about 15 minutes; bear in mind this was supposed to be a catch up dinner as we hadn’t seen each other in a few months!
Well, it wasn’t because we didn’t have anything to talk about, but because everyone had their phone in their hand.
One friend was taking pictures of her dinner to share with her friends on Facebook, the other was furiously replying to work emails and I, well I was on the work WhatsApp group!
As bad as it sounds, this isn’t really that uncommon anymore. I recognised that we had stopped interacting with each other, and was mindful in putting my phone away in my bag. However everywhere you look somebody is on a mobile device, whether it is on the tube, at dinner or at a family gathering, many of them checking their work emails or on social media.
With the increasing demands and pressure people are put under, electronic devices often act as tools that allow people to stay organised and keep on top of all responsibilities at the touch of a button.
Applications such as emails, instant messaging and calendars mean that people are constantly connected, and find it hard to ‘switch off’, therefore becoming more of a hindrance than a help.
From the moment people wake up to the minute they sleep, people are constantly ‘connected’ causing overload and often stress.
Sometimes stripping back the use of technology in modern day society is actually a great stress relief.
I’ve noticed signs similar to the one below are appearing in more and more cafes and bars lately. We are soon moving offices and have also planned to have a tech-free, relaxation room to make sure we get a break from technology throughout the day.
Don’t become a slave to technology. Learn to master it:
Don’t be enslaved by your email
The average worker spends 99 minutes managing emails each day. A great way to ensure that emails aren’t taking over your whole day is to allocate specific hours for checking emails and responding to the important ones. For example, our Head of Innovation checks his emails 3 times a day at 9am, 2pm and 5pm, but added a line to communicate this in his email signature so that everyone is aware of his practice. This will allow you to use the majority of the day to focus on tasks of priority, without distraction. Bonus Tip: turn off your email notifications. If it’s urgent, they’ll call!
Send fewer emails
Last week we focused on the importance of engagement in the workplace. Often when we need to speak to the person across the office from us, we send them a quick email. Instead of adding to their inbox, why not just take a short stroll and talk to them in person? Not only will this give you a short break from your work and a chance for some social interaction, it will allow you to discuss the query in full rather than emailing back and forth.
Go on a digital detox
With the growing pressures of modern technology, few of us ever really ‘switch off’. Try going a few hours in the day without checking your phone, or any digital device for that matter. Turn off your push notifications so you aren’t tempted to check them. Make time for a little mindfulness and live in the real world instead! 62 per cent of workers check business emails while at home or on holiday. When on holiday, why not keep your phone switched off so you aren’t tempted to check your emails or get the latest updates from work. This will allow you to have a complete break from work and rejuvenate.
People often feel anxious when they are without their mobile phone as it takes away the sense of security they feel when they are accessible to other people. Although people seemed to manage fine before the invention of mobile phones, we have now become psychologically attached to our technology and fear missing out on anything if we aren’t always available.
What are your favourite tips for a good ol’ technology detox?
Sabina Darie, Head of Marketing and PR (and Mischief!), The Stress Management Society