Digital Devices & Digital Detox: Being Mindful in a Technology-Based Life
As a society, our cultural behavior has shifted towards spending more time on digital devices than in real time communication with our family and friends. Many people, unable to switch off and unwind from technology, report feeling overwhelmed and experience higher levels of employee stress and a blurring of personal work-life boundaries
A “Digital Detox” is a self-care approach that rebalances time spent on digital devices. It is not as daunting as it sounds and can be achieved in small steps, for example, start out by switching your cell-phone to airplane mode to cut down on distractions and aid concentration and similarly, agree with team members to turn off cell-phones during meetings.
When incorporated as a daily practice, modifying our usage and reliance on digital devices can promote health and wellbeing, reduce stress, enhance employee relationships and lead to a healthier working environment.
Daily Strategies for a Mindful Approach to Digital Devices and Digital Detox
Problem: I find constant texts and emails breaking my concentration and interrupting my workflow. What can I do to reduce distractions?
Rationale: This accumulated unproductive time could be used to take a walk, meet a deadline earlier, or help you leave on time at the end of your day.
Problem: During team projects, I often find myself inundated with lengthy group e-mail and text message exchanges that take a lot of time to review and respond. How could my team and I collaborate more efficiently?
Rationale: Use technology as an aid to improve productivity and not detract from it. Added bonus, bringing the team together as a group helps build stronger team dynamics.
Problem: I often multi-task while juggling multiple projects and sometimes feel overwhelmed and struggle to give everything my full attention. How can I better organize my work?
Rationale: We have grown accustomed to believing we should be working on several things at once and that “busy is best,” but our brains function better and retain more given the chance to focus more intentionally.
Problem: Some of my work seems to waste time with repetitive reporting and e-mails. How can I avoid duplicating my efforts?
Rationale: Creating templates provides consistency in formatting and saves time so you can focus on other important tasks that need your attention.
Problem: My computer work is causing neck pain, eyestrain and fatigue. What can I do to feel better?
Rationale: Create variations of activity and movement naturally into your workflow to reduce physical stressors and increase circulation for greater productivity and better health
Problem: My work involves sitting for hours and I often feel lethargic as the day goes on. I know I need to move more but how can I fit exercise in around my work assignments?
Rationale: The positive effects of regular activity on your own physical & psychological wellbeing will benefit you as an individual and secondarily will reflect on your level of engagement and productivity at work.
Problem: Work follows me home into my evenings and weekends. How can I create a better boundary between my work and home life?
Rationale: Setting clear boundaries and expectations will decrease guilt or anxiety about disconnecting yourself on your time off. It also assists in restructuring a new workflow pattern and gaining acceptance and recognition of those limits from colleagues.
Problem: I work in a fast-paced complex corporate environment and struggle to relax and unwind when I get home in the evening or on weekends. How can I learn to de-stress?
Rationale: We often feel guilty about relaxing and recharging when there are “things to do!” but we shouldn’t. It is an essential step to release stress that builds up during the week. Laughter, social connections, time outside in nature, learning new things, and physical activity are all components of a building a healthier lifestyle.
Problem: My team members say I come across as unapproachable and abrupt in my e-mails although that is not my intention. How can I improve my communications?
Rationale: It is easy to misinterpret the tone of an e-mail so incorporating politeness and personal acknowledgements into the message can soften any negativity particularly with difficult content. As with the spoken word, negative e-mails can influence employees more strongly if they are not balanced with positive communications.
Problem: During team meetings my co-workers often multi-task and split their attention with work on cell phones and laptops. How can I improve participant engagement during these meetings?
Rationale: We have slipped into the use of digital devices as see multi-tasking and digital communication as normal and acceptable in many situations. However, if two colleagues were holding a verbal conversation or working together on a paper and pen project while someone was presenting during a meeting, it would be considered rude, inattentive, and disruptive. The need to multi-task and work through the meeting could also be a sign that an employee is feeling overwhelmed with their work assignments so team leaders need to determine the reason for the behavior and support staff with prioritizing, time-management, and productivity skills.