The Importance of Disconnecting in a 24/7 World
Smartphones and other smart devices have become an extension of who we are. Sixty-four percent of American adults own a smartphone, and 67 percent admit to checking them even when they aren’t ringing or buzzing with messages or call notifications.
We’re always on, and we’re always connected. But what is this constant state of connection costing us in terms of workplace concentration, performance and productivity? Here are a few effects of constant connection:
Sleep Loss — Smartphone screens emit a blue light that suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that tells your body when it’s time to sleep. When your sleep cycle gets disrupted, your concentration and memory can suffer.
Lack of Concentration — Researchers at Florida State University found that phone notifications alone were enough to significantly disrupt performance on tasks that required high levels of attention. Subjects were three times more likely to make mistakes while their phones were buzzing or ringing. The level of distraction was comparable to that of answering a phone call or text.
Less Creative Thought — Research has shown that some of our most original thoughts come during times of boredom, when our minds are free to wander and make new subconscious connections. But we’re spending so much time on our mobile devices, we’re not giving our minds any free time to roam.
Motivation Lulls — According to research, intuitive thinkers are more likely to turn to their smartphones when faced with a problem rather than use their own brainpower.
Tips for Disconnecting
Use Your Brain — Remember the good old days when you could easily recall phone numbers, home addresses and directions to a new neighborhood? Try doing things the old-fashioned way to keep your mind sharp.
Create a Schedule — Set aside a specific time to deal with smartphone notifications each day. During that period, you can check messages and return calls and emails. Don’t vary from the schedule unless it’s an absolute emergency.
Enjoy Downtime — Make sure your time off is just that. If possible, turn off the smartphone in the evenings and on weekends so you can concentrate on yourself.
Get Some Rest — Put the smartphone away an hour or two before bedtime so your body can properly adjust and prepare for sleep, and don’t forget to turn off the phone while you’re sleeping!