The exponential growth of technology paired with new devices and applications permeating our everyday lives has increased professionals’ ability to be efficient. Phone GPS, banking apps and access to a buffet of online services should, in theory, amplify our effectiveness, contributing to additional free time. However, in many cases, this access has served only to boost the amount of time spent on smartphones and tablets.
According to the Pew Research Internet Project, 67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. In the same Pew study, 44% of cell owners reported sleeping with their phone next to their bed to ensure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.
Why Mobile Technology Breaks are Imperative
Have you ever noticed how many people have great business ideas in the shower, while taking a walk, or even while exercising? In Dr. Keith Sawyer’s Book, Explaining Creativity: The Science of Human Innovation, he discusses how doing monotonous tasks like taking showers, laying in bed, and riding buses, contributes to creativity and problem-solving by activating other parts of our brains. In the journal Thinking and Reasoning, psychologist Mareike Wieth and her team discovered that people are better able to solve problems that require a high degree of creativity when they are least alert, like when they first wake up or are laying down to sleep at night. Coincidentally, these are also times when people are most likely to take a shower or bath. Pair this information with the fact that a 2013 IDC Research report found that 79% of recipients report picking up their phones within 15 minutes of waking, and the problem becomes apparent— We’re wasting our precious creative moments of the day plugging into mobile. Many professionals are cheating themselves out of innovative project solutions, new client offerings, and fresh business concepts.
How To Unplug—A Challenge
While changing daily habits may be difficult, one simple way to recharge is simply to take a bimonthly technology free day. When enjoying a techation—vacation from technology—I completely unplug from the Internet, computers, all phones, television and even radio for a twenty four hour period. In fact, I usually rent a hotel room to ensure that I will not be tempted to interact with my tech goodies. Then, I spend my time enjoying massage, journaling, reading physical books, and meditating. I never end a techation without having a major business epiphany, which is promptly recorded in my journal. In fact, I wrote the first draft of my book, The Social Media Why, in four days in a beach house while unplugging from all technology except a computer (not connected to the Internet).
If the thought of unplugging seems overwhelming, then you are a prime candidate. Plan a techation that works for you and your schedule. You may decide to go camping for a few days with no mobile technology or you may decide to commit to a day in your own home with your smartphone off. If you’re having challenges at work, write them down in a journal and brainstorm during your “time away.” You may be surprised at how brilliant you are while unplugged.
Do you take scheduled technology vacations? If so, share your experience below.