08 Sep Unplug and recharge yourself
Today we are more connected than ever before, but life in the digital age is far from ideal with a bombardment of content via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, emails, text messages and blogs. As a freelancer I’m only too aware of the importance of this digital world we live in and how I need to take advantage of it to market my design business.
But if you’re not careful you end up constantly online in a never-ending loop of checking social media and emails, and that isn’t good for anyone. The average person now seems to spend more than half of their waking life staring at a screen. The negative psychological, social and cultural impact is real. Things need to change!
If you never give yourself time away from your screen, your health and well-being are likely to suffer. That’s because you never give your brain a chance to unwind, it’s always switched on and busy. Busier than ever in fact, as it’s always trying to do many things at once.
While people think they are multitasking by checking their various social media apps, actually they are just switching from one task to another very rapidly. Every time they do there’s a cognitive cost, as multitasking is linked to stress and our brains can go into overdrive. Today people are addicted to who’s watching them and how many ‘Likes’ they are getting on social media or replies to tweets or emails, all this continuous activity is frying their brains, literally!
So how do you switch off and give yourself a digital detox? Especially when your job or business takes up most of your time and energy. Well, it’s a lot easier than you think, you can find ways to take time out every day without it affecting your business.
With the average person spending half their waking day staring at a screen, checking their phone 200 times a day – that’s roughly once every six and a half minutes. That’s mad, so start by ditching social media app’s off your phone. If you’re that weak try going and buying an old mobile phone that you can still make calls on, send and receive texts but don’t have the opportunity to stay online.
With all these distractions, it’s no surprise to learn that you can achieve so much more if you focus on just one thing. By stepping away from technology it is not just great for your well-being, it can help you be more effective and focus on producing your best work.
Keep technology out of the bedroom, this is something I’ve always done. Leave your mobile in another room, I don’t check my phone until I start work the next day. A lot of people can’t, it’s the last thing they check at night and first thing they check in the morning. This isn’t good as it negatively impacts on your sleep, it’s a fact. The blue light emitted from smart phones, tablets and other gadgets suppresses melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle), so keeps your brain alert and never lets you switch off.
Once a friend commented on his issue with his girlfriend checking her mobile in bed at night and first thing in the morning (claiming to be working and checking emails, whilst looking at social media) to stop this he picked up his phone and when she asked what he was doing, he replied, looking for a new girlfriend, it worked, she stopped (and they are now getting married).
Research says ideally you should stop using your phone or iPad at least two hours before you go to sleep. Whilst juggling business, daddy day care and family life I often find myself working late at night to keep on top of projects, but I’m not on my phone and when I go to bed I’m so tired I tend to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. If I’m not working I catch up on a bit of TV or read a book instead.
Come the weekend, I tend to leave my phone in another room and try not to use it, as you don’t need to go on social media at weekends do you! I find there’s enough to fill my weekend, with DIY and chores around the house, playing with my son and family time, let alone time to sit there scrolling through social media because I’m bored! When I do get some free time, I like nothing more than to get out on the water and go for a windsurf! It’s proven that spending time outdoors, doing exercise is good for you, so find another activity to take advantage of for the two days you’re off at the weekend. Try going for a walk, ride a bike, go for a jog or take up stand up paddle boarding and go on an adventure, do something! If all else fails, read the papers or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to start!