It’s official. “Digital Detox” is now a legitimate word according to the Oxford On-line Dictionary. And note that this new word is actually a strategy, says Oxford, to reduce stress and improve relationships! Here’s the definition:
Digital Detox: noun~ informal, a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world: break free of your devices and go on a digital detox
It’s an important omen as we head back to work in September. Oddly enough, your digital intake might have increased over the summer, as technology exponentially expands its innovation and reach, in real time. If you think about it, you might be more deluged with info-overload than even a few months ago. And that could result in more work stress. In fact, Columbia University’s Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering recently posted this on its website in preparation for a conference:
“Over the last five years, the amount of digital information worldwide has increased almost 2,000 percent, exceeding 2.8 trillion gigabytes—perhaps as many bits of information as there are stars in the universe. Few modern trends have greater capacity to transform our economy and society than “big data.” So we’re talking a concern of epic proportions for us all.
Assess Your Digital Intake
This is a good time to re-evaluate your digital life before things speed up during the busiest time of the year. A digital detox is a great way to induce your mind and body into a calmer state, at least for a period of time. Science tells us that the consistent binging sounds of those texts, feed us a bit of adrenalin and might just keep us in a heightened state of stress. Especially if we are anxious about a project at work.
Even turning off your gadgets at night or for a few hours during the day can help guide one to a calmer place. But if you can’t completely turn off, taking a digital breath is also an option as I wrote in this Huffington Post article: Taking a Digital Breath in the Work-Life Merge and in my WorkLifeNation.com post: Digital Detox or Digital Redux?
In a world that relies on connectivity, we are charged with developing new skills around time, information and our management and usage of technological devices. In order to swim to the surface we have to start thinking differently about how we consume information that is relevant to us, especially in the context of the work-life merge.
In the meantime, here are some tips to Assess and Tweak Your Digital Intake:
1. Contemplating quality vs. quantity of information: Depending on the type of work you do, perhaps reading every top newspaper and magazine on-line every day is not necessary. Ask yourself which publications are most important for your life and business, and then streamline your choices. If you feel you are missing out you can always re-evaluate.
2. Decide when to access information: Reading in when you start your day might be in line with your business strategy, but it might be interfering with your life. Take a good look at the best times for you to do the longest download of information into your brain.
3. Determine which devices to use, to access information: For some, the home computer is the best way to check up on emails and the days news before you leave the house. For others, an i-Pad or i-Phone might be the best route on the go. Some of my clients will only check e-mail on their business computer a few times a day, and don’t want to be interrupted otherwise.
4. Creating healthy communication practices with others: Just because the phone is handy at all times doesn’t mean you should answer it. You don’t want to offend Mom, your partner or your boss, but there are elegant ways around this. It’s what I call the Co-creation of a conscious conversation. Sometimes those conversations are the best way to create a strategy and boundaries that work for all concerned,
5. Evaluating digital input and output: Ask yourself: What information am I taking in, how often and how much? Furthermore – what am I sending to people, how important is it, and how often am I doing it? We are just as much the victim as the perpetrator. Take an inventory of your behavior to identity what important to you and reveal potential changes that will make your life a little less digi-crazy.
What is your strategy to manage your technology devices and the information you take in daily? Please share!