Business Today

Towards a Digital Detox

Inundated by technology and an always-connected lifestyle, many have started the year by switching off.
Team BT | Print Edition: February 11, 2018
Towards a Digital Detox
Illustration by Raj Verma

Technology is supposed to make life better and free up our time to engage in more 'meaningful' things. But many feel it is merely a pipe dream. Between the smartphone, the smartwatch, the smart car, television, tablet and computer, there are screens everywhere, and people are driven to distraction with notifications popping up every second. At times, the pressure to remain always available on messengers, e-mail and social networks can be simply overwhelming. But it is only half the story.

All manners of organisations are now profiting from people's need to get away from technology and their inability to do it themselves. De-addiction clinics, special camps and workshops charge a hefty sum to steer employees away from the constant barrage of digital interactions for the time being. But routine detox does not work in these cases.

If endless alerts descend on you, you might want to tackle them yourself. Again, switching off your smartphone to cut the constant noise on social media will not help if missing messages from friends and family makes you sad. Detox has to be tailored for the individual. The first step to living a better life in spite of tech is to understand your usage.

Digital detox means kicking this addiction, but it may not be necessarily true. If one wants to keep up with the news or the latest developments in one's area of specialisation, why should it be called an addiction? If one wants to keep track of an ailing parent with frequent messages, why is it toxic? On the other hand, if you are gaming yourself to death or neglecting work and relationships because you cannot tear yourself away from Facebook, you are in trouble and should probably head to a de-addiction clinic.

For most people, it is not a case of addiction but that of using technology as a tool just as they use electricity for nearly everything. Undoubtedly, there will be harmful side effects such as eye strain or back pain for sitting too long, but one can't always sit on the fringes and let the world pass by. So, keep a careful note of what aspects of tech usage are intruding into your life and tackle them one by one. If LinkedIn connection requests are driving you crazy, go to the settings and turn off notifications. If WhatsApp groups are giving you no peace, spend a few minutes to mute the ones you don't want to hear. It is not practical to switch off technology. But that does not mean we cannot smack it down and make peace with it. WORKPLACE MEETINGS NEVER ON A MONDAY


At most workplaces, meetings start on Monday mornings, right after the weekend break. Not the best time as people have not yet wound up after winding down. Some may not even have returned from an extended time off.

Andrew Jensen, business efficiency and performance expert, rules out both Mondays and Fridays for important meetings. "Employees are still typically in 'weekend mode' on Mondays. On Fridays they are likely to be rushing through the day in anticipation of two days off," he writes. Quoting a study, Jensen says respondents in a survey accepted Tuesday 3 p.m. as the best time for a meeting. In early morning meetings, participants may still feel tired or sleepy and may not be adequately prepared. Towards the end of the day, enthusiasm will wane as people get ready to go home. As is well known, mealtimes also affect a meeting.

So, it may be a good idea to follow Jensen's line of thought and plan the most important meetings on Tuesday afternoons to maximise intelligent participation.


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