September 4, 2015

8 Effective Tips to Unplug Yet Still be Connected

In today’s hyper-connected environment, nearly everyone has a connected device on them at all time. No longer is it just a smart phone, but activity trackers, tablets and watches all keep people linked to each other. In the office and at home, people are preoccupied with texts, emails, status updates and notifications.

These technological advances definitely provide benefits that were unimaginable just a few years ago. However, this always-connected mentality can be stressful. People feel they have become dependent on their device so much so that 2/3 of people check their phones even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. Nearly half of cell phone owners have their device next to their bed when they sleep for fear of missing a call or message.
social media pic

While having instant access to information and messaging can speed communication, it can also decrease productivity. Reading all your friends’ status updates on your favorite social network can actually make you less social and lead to a feeling on inadequacy. Obsessive social networking can harm relationships, interpersonal communication skills and mental health.

So, how should someone incorporate work, friends, and technology into their life? Balance.

Tips for at work:

  • Create a to-do list for each day, and make sure you accomplish everything.
  • Set aside designated times to check mail and social networks. Whether that is once a day or once an hour, stick to it! When you see an email pop up, do not feel compelled to read it and respond immediately. Prioritize emails and make sure the most important ones are handled first.
  • Keep your device off your desk. If it is not in your hand, you will be less likely to browse your newsfeeds and messages. You will know when you get a phone call, but do not use it for time wasting.
  • Take lunch “off the grid.” As we mentioned in our Midday Disconnect post, taking an untethered lunch break can help employees relax and improve productivity.

Tips for at home:

  • Set an email policy. If you get in the habit of always checking your emails (and replying to them), your coworkers will know you will, and expect you to, reply regardless of what time it is. If you do not want people emailing you at home, set a precedent and do not reply until the next morning.
  • Only view one screen at a time. When watching TV, do not feel obliged to check social media or view the latest tweets about the program you are viewing.
  • Mind your manners, especially at the dinner table. When dining, so many people resort to their device as a distraction. Imagine if it were a book. You wouldn’t bury your head behind a book when dining with family or friends, so don’t be on your device when you dine.
  • Do not sleep with the phone next to your bed or use the phone in bed. Not only can the glow disrupt your sleep patterns but the urge to check your phone can keep you up longer.

To truly unplug, try a few of these escapes:

  • Go for a walk. Find a nice park or lake and just walk outside. If you are concerned about your safety, tell someone where you will be, and just walk. Don’t worry about taking pictures or updating your status as you walk.
  • Do a project. Cook a meal, paint a picture, clean your house, water your plants. As long as it does not involve an electronic device, you will accomplish your task.
  • Meditate

To learn more about unplugging at work and home and to see how you can benefit from it, here are some articles and infographics for reference:

The Ultimate Guide to Unplugging [INFOGRAPHIC]

10 Ways to Unplug and Become More Productive

The Best (and Worst) of Mobile Connectivity

Why Everyone Should Unplug More Often

The Benefits of Unplugging as a Team