Can you imagine what your world would look like if you were without your cell phone, ipad or tablet for an hour or day? What about a week? I know the mere thought causes you to break out in a cold sweat and makes you want to vomit. Do you know that technology addiction is a real affliction, which causes anxiety, depression and attention deficit? I guess the pharmaceutical companies are ecstatic.
A 2016 study done by Common Sense Media found that 27% of adults and 50% of teens feel addicted to technology. Now mind you, this is their perception, the real numbers are likely to be much higher. The ironic thing is you are likely reading this on your device…but I digress!
The unrealized toll is enormous; consider work and school performance, building healthy relationships, intimacy and social skills. The list is truly endless. For the purpose of this blog I want to focus on the effect technology is having at work and home.
Technology has made doing business more convenient in today’s corporate world, however that convenience is exacting a toll emotionally and physically on employees. Without question this issue is undermining a healthy work/life balance. This is never more evident than in a recent study from American Institute of Stress, which found that 54% of employees are experiencing high levels of stress. Consider the impact on employee’s health and the cost of diminished productivity.
The advantage of modern technology is it allows us immediate and timely responses and the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world. Paradoxically it also means we are always connected and accessible. The answer to this problem is establishing healthy boundaries so you can unplug and disconnect while also prioritizing your life outside of work.
1. Eliminate the distractions!
When we are at work or at home with family, we should be fully present. That requires us to be disciplined with our technology. A recent study has shown that millennials check their cell phones 157 times/day. This doesn’t mean that distractions are unique to the millennial generation, however is there any wonder why 36% of workers are highly disengaged costing companies $350 billion in lost production annually?
We have to get comfortable with turning our technology off. When we are fully engaged on a project at work and become distracted, it takes 23 minutes to get reengaged at the same level as before, so eliminate the temptation. Doesn’t our families deserve our full attention when we are home? How many times have you been out to dinner and noticed a family of four all on their phones? Perhaps this is you! We are losing the art of communication. The problem is, we have been conditioned to the “ding” and like Pavlov’s dog, our technology controls us.
2. Not everything is an emergency!
Just because our phone “dings” or a notification shows up on our computer indicating we have a new email, doesn’t mean we need to respond. Emergencies fortunately rarely happen and when they do, I can assure that you will know. Schedule times throughout the day to respond to emails, texts and voice mails. If your work allows you, no more than three times per day. You will experience a sense of freedom as well as less stress. It reminds me about the time we took our youngest daughter to Europe. We did not have cell service the entire trip. At the end of the vacation she indicated how much she enjoyed being disconnected. We enjoyed having intentional raw conversations. Remember it is only the last 20 years that our lives have been so dominated by technology.
3. Find a hobby!
Finding more work/life balance is also about reconnecting with things we are passionate about. Try replacing technology with a hobby. When we are enjoying any variety of activities, we naturally disconnect. You could join a book club, a cycling club, go hiking or how about donating your time to an animal shelter. The options are endless.
We need to put technology in its place. It is without a doubt a positive thing when used for good and when we don’t allow it to control our lives. Reengage in the world around you. Become aware of your surroundings. Be committed to being a great communicator. Get reconnected to your passions and enjoy life once again. Disconnecting means reconnecting.
Live Inspired, be abundant and fulfill your destiny,
Dr. Jay LaGuardia