How are you disconnected in the workplace?
What is the first thing you reach for in the morning upon waking and the last thing you look at before you close your eyes at night? For most of us the answer would be our devices in the form of an ipad, iphone, laptop or a tv. 71% of device users sleep with their phones by the bed. Most check their phones within 5 minutes of turning in for the night. This sort of exposure to screens is a large factor in sleep disorders. 42% of device users have a sleep disorder, which also causes anxiety and depression. Research has discovered if you spend more than one hour each day on your device, you are more likely to exhibit depressive symptoms. We know this lowers employee productivity and increases sick days. The science is clear, people who spend more time on their devices suffer higher rates of depression. Too much device usage is dangerous for your health and we know imbalance is the problem.
Screens have become paramount in all of our lives, but what is the price we pay for these distractions in the workplace ? If I asked you to unplug from all technology for one week, could you do it? How many of you would find this extremely difficult?
It feels good when you get a text or a response from a text. When we get a text, we actually get a hit of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter in our brain that is a happy chemical . So do you see the connection Text=Dopamine=Feel Good ? This is why we keep doing it. This is why we can’t put our devices down. Dopamine is the same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke or gamble. It’s highly addictive.
Now, I am the first to say that technology plays many significant and positive roles for us. I am sure you use technology in your workplace, so completely cutting yourself off from technology would be impossible. The old addage everything in moderation is important in this case.
All technology is not bad, but how much is too much and what are the consequences in the workplace?
Telecommunity has produced a huge connection for us, but it has also limited us. We know that everyday in the workplace employees individually waste 2 hours of worktime on their phones, texting or engaging in social media exchanges. That is ¼ of the workday. It adds up to 5 years and 4 months of your lifetime and that number is on the rise. In the workplace we are working harder than ever because we are more distracted that ever by our devices. $97 billion dollars a year is lost due to employee engagement in social media while at work. 74 % of social media users check it daily. 155 is the average number of friends on fb but most say they would only trust 4 of those people in a crisis. We are spending our precious time fostering friendships online, rather than in person and to what advantage? We have become addicted to social media. It is expertly engineered to produce such a response by psychologists that are skilled in manipulating brain chemistry to elicit your repeated checking in, to the point of obsession. We call this intermittent rewards conditioning. These are the same scientists that construct this identical reaction to slot machines in Vegas.
In the workplace we are more distracted by our devices than ever. Our attention span has gone from 40 minutes on average to 9 minutes. Goldfish have a greater attention span than humans now. Digital media affects our brain with long term excessive usage. We can link it to ADD, but we know we can reverse this.
We know that we are more productive without constant interruptions from our phones and yet we don’t disengage. We simply can’t.
How can we recapture productivity without being overly dependent on technology?
The first way is to limit device usage. Tell yourself you will look at social media 1 x in the morning for 10 minutes and one time in the afternoon for 10 minutes.
Don’t leave your email up during the day as it becomes a distraction. Have a cute note letting your emailers know you are building your attention span, and only checking emails twice daily, but will get back to them shortly.
The solution for greater productivity in the workplace and creativity is to disconnect and engage. You may be surprised at your productivity, as well as your closer engagement with real people. Your attention span will grow and your productivity will increase.