Human Resources and Technology

Steps to disconnect from technology

December 31, 2014
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Fifty-eight percent of American adults have a smartphone, as of January 2014, according to the Pew Research Center. Courtesy Thinkstock

As a partner at an IT firm, it will come as no surprise that I’ve reached a point of “hyper-connectivity” in my life.

Technology obsession

With an endless array of mediums delivering new information every second, I’d go so far as to say that most of us have crossed the line of being hyper-connected and entered the zone of obsession. Unsure if you fit the bill? Check out a few telltale signs.

  • Secretly checking your email during personal time with family or friends
  • Using your cell phone as your alarm clock or sleeping near it, so you can sneak peeks at your email or texts when insomnia hits in the middle of the night
  • Taking a call or answering a text at the gym, on the ski slopes or at a church event
  • Once a detail-oriented person, you now struggle to concentrate for periods of time longer than a few minutes
  • Difficulty segregating work and personal communications

The lines are blurred as millennials and non-millennials alike are searching to find the perfect balance between their professional and personal lives (although some may argue it no longer exists). To this extent, you might not even realize you have a technology obsession.

Between your cell phone, laptop, tablet, multiple email accounts, voicemail for both personal and work numbers, calendars to manage work and personal commitments, cloud apps and social media (deep breath), the Internet is our IT playground.

With a limitless number of applications available to make your life “easier,” even the most organized and balanced of us can become distracted from what's most important in life. Whether it be “A”-level items or projects at work, important events with your spouse or kids or fun time with your friends or a favorite charity, technology obsessions can be — and often are — a major distraction.

Steps toward a work-life balance

While I’m still no mastermind at the work-life balance, I’ve learned much from my love of technology and practicing what I've learned from my mentors in the industry.

  • Your email inbox can be put on hold. Try going offline to complete larger, labor-intensive assignments without distraction
  • Don't overload yourself with RSS feeds and online services. Streamline your news feeds directly into a folder for reading at a different time and choose only information that is most important for you to remain in touch and successful in your field
  • Use instant messenger settings to your advantage. Let people know when you’re in, interruptible or not available to chat. Can you really be interruptible all day long and maintain your productivity?
  • Implement simple email communication guidelines. Use direct emailing to signify action items and copy to communicate information. This allows you to process your email more quickly and effectively
  • Set boundaries. Let people know through voicemail and out-of-office messages (when applicable) how to reach you for high-priority issues
  • Limit notifications. Where appropriate, turn off or limit audible alarms/notifications for incoming mail, text, social media and voicemail messages
  • Just turn it off. That’s right. Turn off your phone when you need to buckle down at work or enjoy quality time with others

Always remember: email is only a written form of communication.

Don't forget to follow-up with others by listening, talking and personally interacting with them.

Investing time with your peers, friends and loved ones is the most genuine connection you can make. 

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