From this week, we're introducing something special: Detox Fridays. We select some of the most interesting facts, tips, stories and pics from the world around the digital detox topic, saving you time and letting you know all you need for a healthier and less stressful lifestyle.
Here are the three top picks from this week:
1. Four signs you are NOT addicted to tech (from an interview with an expert of National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in India):
2. Then you may want to follow these four tips to disconnect productively from a PR agency owner who thinks digital detox saved her business:
3. Alternatively, you may want to go into the African Bush on Back to Basics - an initiative set up by an Accenture employee for super-connected overachievers, who are taken into the wild for a week no heating/water/and importantly, no Wi-Fi. She backs up her project by the research claiming that the best leaders take time to slow down and spend at least 1/3 (!) of their week on self-reflection.
Bonus track: In the light of upcoming St Valentine's, mobile is named by researchers among the top reasons of problems between the couples. Enjoy, a few awesome creative ideas from Adnews and help your loved ones raise awareness about digital detox in our lives.
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According to the Border Theory, as we move from one social role into another (for instance, from being an employee into being a member of a family), we cross certain “borders”. Each space (i.e. office or home) has its own border keepers, who make sure that you don’t blend the two. At work, your boss or your colleagues act as border keepers. When they go home, they send you a signal that your work is over and you can move to a different space. At home, your spouse or kids act as border keepers, when they become upset every time you are checking your phone.
Keeping healthy borders is important for anyone, because we tend to recharge at home, and spend energy at work (provided that your home is a safe and supportive environment). However, technology blurred the borders and strongly increased the length of the working day.
According to scientists, there are three main types of boundaries between the spaces – physical (walls of your home or office, or if you work from home, an open or a closed door); temporal (specific working time) and psychological (whether you are thinking about you work-related issues even if you aren’t working anymore). Technology has blurred the boundaries of all three of them.
How do you know that it’s time to stop working? Who sends you the signal if you are working from home, or if you have a mobile phone with corporate emails that keep arriving? You may still receive calls at 10pm these days, especially if you work with global markets. Many people feel they must control their messages 24/7, otherwise they might end up losing work (although only in a very few industries like specific parts of financial industry this might apply). With no boundaries in place, we end up having very little to restore ourselves and so can get increasingly stressed and tired.
There are three key types of people that have different attitudes to borders.
Border expanders simply don’t see a border – they keep going no matter what. They can often do that for the need of career advancement, predominantly it’s people in client-facing roles, who frequently blur the border between work and life. It’s the investment banker who goes to a date and apologies because he needs to go back to work. It’s a busy lawyer who ignores her kids and goes to the office on Sunday because she needs to address some questions the client raised at 11pm the previous night. There’s no such thing as no-working time, work can come in any minute and it needs to be addressed.
Border adapters evaluate whether the thing is urgent or not. The change their scenario depending on the screening result. They will answer the phone depending on who’s calling. They will check their emails and see which require an urgent answer, and will answer those, and ignore the rest.
And finally, border enforcers are people who have established for themselves really rigid boundaries. When they’ve left the office – this is it, they aren’t taking calls. When they are out of the office hours, you can’t to get hold of them. They are likely to have had burn-outs before and learned the hard way. Quite a few of them changed their jobs once or several times, looking for a company culture that allows them not to be on the digital leash all the time.
Which type are you? How do you manage your digital routine?
In the next posts, we will talk about digital detox strategy for each of these types.
“Technology is like a chair – if you sit on it for too many hours, it’s not good for you. You won’t prohibit using chairs just because people sit on them for too long. However, as a chair designer, you need to design your chair better if you want people to be healthier”. Professor Rafael Calvo leans back into his chair as he sips his refreshing drink in an unusually hot London weather.
He has just presented a seminar on Positive Computing in UCL, attracting a group of engineers, psychologists, educational specialists and other people interested in the impact of technology on our mind and well-being. Rafael Calvo is the ARC Future Fellow, Engineering at the University of Sydney, and a co-author of the book called Positive Computing: Technology for wellbeing and human potential. Positive computing is an interdisciplinary field that sits between design, computing, psychology and social sciences and explores how technology can help us be more human, and not more computer-like.
“The main thing that applications and computer programs should do if they want to help people change their behaviour is support their motivation and help create this motivation. Technology is an environment and so it should create an environment”, Calvo says.
This is quite an innovative idea for the tech world, where most app developers are primarily concerned about engagement of the user, and not their motivation. Candy Crush the game is a good example of a game maximizing engagement – it adapts to how much you play it; so if you stop playing it, it gets easier, and if you spend a lot of time playing it, it gets harder. Whereas engagement is important, Calvo says, we should also focus on developing other sides of the human brain, and especially social emotions.
Productivity comes second
Most tech developers today also see humans as efficient and productive machines, which to be fair is not the most typical human aspect. So they build products that encourage the sense of achievement, and sometimes overachievement (like catching up with emails, buying something or tracking via wearables), and help release dopamine that is also known as an anticipation and addiction hormone. Only a few build their products to encourage contentment and affiliation, like expressing gratitude, empathy or praise to others.
Even when websites want to encourage their users to praise each other for something, they often choose speed over psychological benefits (see example of Linkedin vs Yammer from Calvo's presentation).
Nowadays technology doesn’t take into account people’s well-being. When companies choose to make interventions to influence behaviour of their users, they often do so by just redesigning the product to prevent a negative impact, rather than encouraging the positive. For instance, Facebook can offer you automated solutions on how to block a person who is abusing you (i.e. unfriend/block/report them), but it’s not designed to encourage people to be nicer or more supportive of each other.
What Calvo proposes is to build a generation of new apps and games that will promote well-being, social connections, empathy and help us to, even further, develop the qualities that we traditionally consider human.
How to remain sane
At the end of our conversations I ask Calvo about what allows him to keep a healthy digital routine and remain human in the computer age. Here are the four things he finds works really well for him:
1. He keeps separate business and personal email accounts and only subscribes to anything on his personal one, so that he doesn’t get distracted when working.
2. He has specific days for certain types of activities – Monday is the meeting day, Tuesday is the writing day.
3. He uses delayed emailed function, downloading his emails only once an hour. He also does all the admin stuff only in the afternoon and uses mornings productively.
4. He keeps phones and laptops outside of the bedroom, and says that removing the TV from the living room and replacing it with the projector helped a great deal to reduce the time his kids watched TV. The very removal of a physical device helps you become less distracted.
Want to read similar stories and tips?
Listen to the full interview with Dr Michelle Blanchard on how modern technology can help you be healthier in Consciously Digital podcast section, where we cover the following questions:
We at Consciously Digital™ are doing exactly that - helping people reclaim back their agendas and overcome digital distractions.
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Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.
Having spent over 10 years and numerous hours in front of the screen promoting the benefits of digital for top media and advertising brands and witnessing hundreds of overstressed colleagues, Anastasia concluded she needed to change her lifestyle if she wanted to remain healthy.
She gave up her smartphone and now trains people on mindful use of digital technologies and claims she has never felt so productive and happy.
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