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The balanced technology diet for business

Dr Nicola Millard, our Principal Innovation Partner, is exploring the challenges of constant connection. She’s come up with some top tips to help you manage the techno-stresses of everyday life. 

Distractions are everywhere – and we often give in to them. These interruptions mostly come in the form of digital technology. And the trouble is, once we’re connected, it’s very easy to get addicted. Suddenly three hours have passed, and you’ve not achieved what you set out to do for the day.

But how can we limit our tech use, use our phones less and spend less time staring at our screens? Let’s take a look at the main issues of too much tech and what steps can you take to tackle it.

Too much of a good thing

There’s been a huge digital shift recently, with most of us needing to work from home. This has brought benefits, like less time commuting, saving money and spending more time with the family. But it has it’s negatives too. We need to place ourselves on a balanced communications diet.

We’re spending our entire working day glued to our technology – with the challenge not being connection anymore; but disconnection. Just like food is essential for our survival – too much of it can be bad for us. And it’s the same with tech. But how can we stop work from consuming the rest of our lives?

Under pressure

Our ability to communicate in real-time has created a sense of urgency. Instead of a quick two-minute chat by the office watercooler, a barrage of messages come through virtually. This constant stream of information means we spend more time reading and responding to digital communications than actually getting the work done. And the sense of needing to reply immediately impacts the quality of our decision making. Reaching the end of our inboxes gives us a feeling of accomplishment too – much more than tackling the complex tasks on our ‘to do’ list. But compulsively checking our messages, in our working lives and our personal devices, means we get less productive. Which can lead to undue stress at how little we’ve achieved in the day.

The task juggler

Due to the near constant interruptions, we’re trying to multitask, or even worse, task switch. As a result, we become increasingly unable to concentrate and complete complex tasks. Plus, all that task-juggling can be exhausting. Trying to do multiple things at once means more work in the long run as we try to maintain any level of attention on either task – and that’s without your phone pinging and distracting you on the side lines. Getting interrupted and trying to regain your original chain of thought, or simply forgetting about the task and moving on, is an ultimate productivity killer. Having the self-control to close everything down and concentrate on a single task is our biggest challenge.

“It’s easier to find the off switch on a laptop than it is on a phone. But the techno-invasion can mean we feel constantly tethered to our work.”

Dr Nicola Millard


Take some time away from technology

Control is easier on some devices than others. It’s easier to find the off switch on a laptop than it is on a phone. But the techno-invasion can mean we feel constantly tethered to our work.

Of course, we can’t simply throw away our tech – especially now a lot of us are based at home. We just need to change our habits around them, resulting in better productivity and more time to ourselves – decreasing our stress levels. But how can we do this?

Limiting technology use

We’ve jotted down five steps for you to follow. It’s time to start your communications diet for business.

Your location

Just because you can work anywhere, doesn’t mean that you should. Try to find a dedicated workspace that’s different from the place you like to relax. Whether it’s a different room, a shed or even the opposite end of the sofa; try to create those physical boundaries between work and play. Moving out of your ‘office’ space is a powerful way of flicking the working switch off.

Rule the tech world

Set yourself some rules to follow during work hours. Try turning your phone off in meetings so you’re not tempted. That email can wait a few hours before being replied to. And appearing offline during the working day isn’t a crime. Being ‘busy’ really can mean you don’t want to be interrupted. Try to book some time into your diary for focused activities away from the influx of messages. It’s time to knuckle down.

Awareness

How are you using tech when you’re working? And how long are you spending your day staring at a screen? Try recording the ways that you’re using technology for a few days. You can then adjust your workday to a more ideal level. Take some time away from the screen and let those creative juices flow.

Education

Digital collaboration tools are everywhere - it’s easy to get lost. Notifications pinging left, right and centre do nothing for our concentration levels. Make sure your team know which platforms are best for certain messages. And that they know how to use them to their full potential. You want everyone to get the best out of the technology tools out there.

A balanced tech diet

As with everything, moderation is all. We need to make a conscious effort to control how we use our technology. Are we controlling the tech or is it controlling us? Being constantly on your mobile means missing out on vital information on calls, seminars or conferences. Switching everything off needs to be acceptable behaviour. Taking a tech break can reduce feelings of dependence on technology – and it’ll clear your mind too.

For us to maintain a healthy communications diet, we need to find the balance that suits us individually. A bit of ‘me’ time everyday to disconnect from the business world around us is important. We can help you to find the perfect balance of collaborative tools for your business.