How interconnected do you need to be? Have you thought about how being tethered to mobile devices may impact your career and wellbeing? This is a guest post by Lindsey Pollak, a bestselling author, Millennial workplace expert and spokesperson for The Hartford’s My Tomorrow campaign.
Last year, 2013, marked the first year that Americans spent more time online on our mobile devices than on our computers. Millennials, not surprisingly, lead the pack in mobile—spending the most time shopping, texting and reading the news through their smartphones and other devices. This past February, Facebook announced that it would be acquiring the private text messaging service, WhatsApp, for a whopping $19 billion, demonstrating the tremendous value of owning mobile eyeballs.
Naturally, the mobile mania has made its way into the workplace, enabling employees to work anytime, anywhere. This has created a need for companies to incorporate flexibility around typical workplace hours and environments as well, making company policy on mobility and flexibility a necessity. Flexibility around the use of mobile has become an expectation for young workers in particular when evaluating potential employers.
Despite this mobile mania, Millennials are recognizing that unplugging from time to time is just as important as maintaining their social savviness, particularly as they rise in their careers. They believe it’s important for leaders to be tech-savvy, but not tech-reliant. Eighty-six percent of Millennials in The Hartford’s 2013 Leadership Survey said the use of social media holds some importance to being an effective leader, but they clearly do not view it as a major contributor. Just 22 percent said it is very important or absolutely critical.
As we all know, the lure of social media is hard to ignore at work or at home. Mobile is all around us – literally – so it’s important to take time away from our screens. A digital detox can keep your health up, stress down and refresh you so you can improve your productivity. And, believe it or not, taking a break from electronics can actually increase productivity and keep you on track with tasks. In a recent survey conducted by meQuilibrium, 50 percent of the respondents checked their work email outside the office, while at the same time 73 percent felt that using electronic devices contributed to stress in their lives.
What does a digital detox entail? Take a day off or a week off, whichever you believe will be most beneficial, and remove your work email from your phone. Check your email only at designated times during the day. Take a break from social media sites, e-newsletters, Candy Crush and even the habit of checking your weather app multiple times a day. You’ll likely find, when you are finished with your detox, you’ll feel renewed and will be able to approach tasks with a newfound energy or sense of clarity. If you cut out the use of digital tools, you also might be surprised at how much you can get done without them.
If you’re nervous about completely unplugging, start with a mini-detox during your first couple of hours after work. Try to use the time to relax and unwind from your day – not as a continuation of the last task you were working on, or to finish up the one last deliverable. Sometimes in order to objectively view a problem or business strategy you need to take a step back and view it from the outside. Removing yourself from the office, physically and digitally, is a great way to do that.
Learn more about Lindsey Pollak and read about her upcoming book, Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders, by visiting her website.