National Day of Unplugging – a Technology Free Day.
Tonight begins the National Day of Unplugging!
In preparation for today, I attended a session on unplugging from technology for a day at SXSW. For the entire hour, cell phones were not allowed in the room (although there were still folks tweeting during the session at the hashtag, hmmm).
Regardless, the session got me thinking once again to our ultra connected world. Technology has enabled us to meet with teammates on the other side of the world, to distribute work to people spread globally, and connect us all in new and exciting ways.
There is also the peril that because of this, we’ve lost a bit of the meaning of what it means to be present. I’ve been to many meetings in which the team is gathered in the same room but typing or checking email the entire time, defeating the purpose of getting together in the first place.
In the session, it was brought up that perhaps we’re at a tipping point of feeling the efficiency of being plugged in all the time. Yes, I can’t imagine not having my iPhone around in the evening to check up on email, but what about truly unplugging for a moment to actually plan, think, and innovate instead of being reactive?
There has been many studies in which true innovation comes when being unplugged. In fact, at turnstone we’ve designed office settings simply for escaping physically from people, but also using these to escape from technology.
After listening to the pros and cons of being connected, it really comes down to knowing ourselves and our work well enough to DECIDE when to turn on or off and to hold ourselves accountable to being diligent about that decision.
I think of being connected like eating. There’s a reality that we need food to survive and I think we technology to be successful at work. There’s also a point in which too much food is negative for your health. The same for technology – when it becomes something you can’t put down for a few moments with your family, it has become a negative.
Here are a few suggestions that came out of the session to try and see how you react:
- Next time you’re at dinner, make a cell phone pile. Put all of your phones in the middle of the table in a pile. If someone removes theirs from the pile, they foot the bill.
- When doing email, if 9 PM is really the best time for you to catch up, use that time only try something a little different by marking all your responses to go to a draft folder. When you get in the office the following morning, send them all out. This helps your team and employees feel like its not necessary to respond (unless it’s an urgent matter, then send it out right away) in the evening and for them to develop the time that works best for them to respond.
- When composing an email, try to keep only 1 person in the “to” line. Everyone else on the email should be in the CC line so it’s clear who is to respond. This should cut down on email volume pretty quickly!
What have you found that helps you manage technology and be connected when it really matters?