4 Signs You Need a Digital Detox

Insights for Professionals

Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Thursday, January 9, 2020

If you're reading this on your phone, stop: here are four signs you need a digital detox.

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If you've ever felt the panic of putting a hand in your pocket and not feeling your mobile phone, we understand your pain. Today's always-on, connected world means our mobile phones, tablets and other devices have become a lifeline for many of us.

That said, being at the beck and call of technology can have its downsides, from the frustration of slow connections to the need to feel that we're always up to date on the latest news. For small business operators in particular, the temptation to check your emails and to keep on top of the workings of your company at all hours of the day can be overwhelming. However, not taking the time to switch off from the daily grind and to turn off those devices can take a significant toll.

Indeed, the average person now spends three hours and 15 minutes on their phones each day. That's an enormous amount of time to spend staring at a screen! A digital detox could therefore be just the thing you need. Here are four signs that you could be relying too much on technology and need to tone it down a bit:

1. Lack of sleep

Spending time at night on your smartphone or tablet can have a detrimental impact on your ability to get a good night's sleep. Researchers from the JFK Neuroscience Institute and Seton Hall University showed that checking social media before bed can result in a greater likelihood of anxiety, insomnia and shorter sleep duration.

The impact of a poor night's rest can be great, resulting in lower concentration, irritability and an overall drop in a person's wellbeing.

2. Simple tasks seem harder

Concentration is key when it comes to running a business, but if you're distracted by technology then there can always be that temptation to pick up your smartphone or procrastinate when you should be working.

You can improve your concentration by turning off any unnecessary devices during the working day to eliminate distractions. Doing so can help make you feel less stressed, to increase productivity and has even been shown to boost your memory.

3. Bringing your phone to the dinner table

Being unable to wind down to sit and enjoy a meal with loved ones is a sign that you need to switch off from your digital life. Taking time out of a busy day to relax and unwind can help improve your overall wellbeing.

If you find yourself regularly skipping meals to check your emails or browse social media, then it's time to put your phone away and engage in some meaningful conversations.

4. Suffering from FOMO

Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a common experience for many people. Social media and its ubiquity today means there's always something exciting happening that others are up to. It could be a getaway by friends that's being posted all over Facebook or a competitor launching a new product to great fanfare.

Dealing with FOMO can be easier said than done, but essentially it boils down to shifting your focus of attention. Focus on what you have, what you've accomplished and what you're good at - not what others are doing - and it can help to sever that link.

If you recognize these behaviors then it could mean you need to take a break from technology and get back to the things that really matter. A digital detox can help you to re-establish a sensible work-life balance, while also cementing the real-world relationships around you.

It's great to feel like you're always in control and on the ball when it comes to running your business or keeping up with the latest social engagements, but sometimes it pays to simply switch off and relax; those emails will still be in your inbox when you're suitably restored.

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