Could You Use a Digital Detox?
The other day, I was on the way to a restaurant with my family to celebrate my daughter’s birthday when I realized I left my smartphone at home by accident. Well, no problem – my wife would have hers. “Hmmm…I forgot my phone,” I said, to which she replied, “I left mine at home because I knew you’d have yours to take pictures.” Oops.
By now, I’m sure you know where this is going. We were able to have a perfectly normal, fun birthday lunch without the distraction of our phones buzzing every few seconds. And once I got used to not having my phone there, I felt relieved. I could just relax in the moment, with no distractions. Focus on the fun, have a memorable lunch, and get on with the rest of the day. Just like we used to do, before there were smartphones (or, in my case, mobile phones – I’m old enough to remember the days when car phones were introduced…).
That got me thinking. Due to the nature of what I do professionally, I have to pretty much live my work life plugged in – I collect information from various sources, make sense of it for our clients, and recommunicate it in a way that helps us help you minimize risk and maximize health. From when I get up to when I go to bed, I’m able to check to see what is going on. But sometimes I can get so wound up with all of that information – the emails, news stories, podcasts, etc. – that I don’t have time to actually think about the information I just digested. It may make me well informed, but does it help make me more effective at what I do?
My advice to business leaders is to take time to disconnect. Here’s what I think we can all gain from more time unplugged:
- Focus – No more notifications interrupting you throughout the day. Our brains can’t multi-task as well as we think they can, and oftentimes our phones are simply a distraction.
- Mindfulness – Whether it’s the news, social media or your email, our phones often bring stress. Swap the time you’d spend catching up on your phone with meditating and see how much more relaxed and present you feel.
- Better sleep quality - Instead of checking your email right before bed, try reading a book. The bright lights from the phone hinder your body’s ability to become properly tired.
- Time management – How often does a quick social media check-in last longer than expected? You’ll find yourself with more hours in the day when scrolling through your social pages is off the table.
From now on, I’m going to be a bit more mindful about my time on my devices, and I challenge you to the same. I can’t cut myself out of it – that’s simply not realistic in today’s information age – but I can choose to be disconnected when it’s appropriate. Is that something you need to do too?
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