It’s been two days, four hours, 34 minutes and about 50 seconds since I watched a Snapchat Story, shared my #healthy breakfast on Instagram or added a funny meme to a group on WhatsApp. I’m in the middle of a tech detox but it’s not as terrifying as I expected.
With the launch of Cpl’s new research paper, A Rested Worker is a Productive Worker, I offered to put some of its advice to the test. Will taking a break from technology make me more productive?
Into the wilderness
Being untethered for a week feels like being out in the wilderness. How do we find our way to an unfamiliar street without an app to tell us? With WhatsApp replacing text how do you keep in the loop when you only have a ‘dumbphone’?
It’s important to leave technology behind every now and then. David Hayes, Head of Creative Strategy for Tumbler, said he sometimes goes without a mobile phone for weeks, saying it’s like stepping ‘back into the wild’. While Ariana Huffington regularly turns off her phone for an hour. This is a reaction to our growing dependency on technology.
Technology is disrupting our sleep patterns
When you give in to the temptation to check Facebook ‘just one more time’ before nodding off you’re setting your sleep pattern awry. Artificial light mimics the blue wavelengths present during the daytime which confuses the body completely when trying to wind down. Those who use technology an hour before sleep are nearly three times as likely to get less than 5 hours rest.
Not sleeping properly means you will reach exhaustion 11% faster – that’s the difference between getting tired at 4:15 or 5. Eliminate the option of scrolling until sleepy by switching to an old fashioned alarm clock. You’ll get to sleep faster, be more rested and be less tempted to procrastinate the next day.
Have better focus than a goldfish
The goldfish is always ridiculed for its less than spectacular attention span, but now the joke is on us. A study by Microsoft found that our attention span is on average 8 seconds and we have technology to thank for that. In our everyday life, we are bombarded by all kinds of notifications all vying for our attention. If we’re constantly engaged, always ‘on’, then how is our attention span to survive?
Too much noise is taxing on our cognitive abilities. That’s why taking some time to disconnect is vital. It gives your brain a chance to breathe and focus on single tasks. Take a break from your phone and your mind will begin to feel more focused, rested and calm.
Feed your curiosity
Curiosity was an attribute our ancestors developed so that we could make sense of the world and survive in it. In the modern age curiosity is a key ingredient for success. It is the latest in-demand characteristic by employers. With the Harvard Business Review citing that it’s just as important as intelligence. It’s no longer about who or what you know, but what you want to know.
However, technology can trample on our curious nature. The information avalanche that we endure on a daily basis impacts our ability to reason and be creative. We’re not giving ourselves time to think about what information we’re getting or to delve a little deeper. Ask questions, read more varied sources, feed your curiosity and be more selective about the information you ‘let in’.
While my digital timeout has been trying, I’ve noticed some welcome changes. I’m sleeping better, I have more time to think and be creative and my fear of missing out has faded away. All of which is improving my productivity and levels of engagement. You don’t have to outlaw yourself for a week, but leaving your phone in another room every once in a while is something everyone can benefit from. Stay tuned to see if I’m as optimistic after my full five-day tech detox!