With communication technology within reach all hours of the day, most of us find ourselves in a constant state of connection with our work, our friends, the news, and entertainment. The ability to stay connected can mean a lot of freedom for women, especially when it comes to juggling a career, family life, and daily health. From telecommuting to split schedules, the ability to remain in contact while on the go makes it easier to get it all done.
On the other hand, is uninterrupted connectivity good in the long run?
The State of Connection
It’s probably easy to come up with all the ways staying connected helps us get ahead at work and stay on top of things at home. On the other hand, it’s causing a few long-term problems.
1. Long Work Days. In the “old days,” when you left the workplace, the workday was complete. You might have brought home a project to work on or some files to review, but it was rare to have someone checking on the status of that project at 8:00 p.m. Today, emails and messages are interrupting dinner, time at the gym, and family activities. The result is one long workday sometimes interrupted with regular life and that becomes exhausting.
2. Reduced Effectiveness. Continually being on the job can lead to a reduction in your ability to give 100 percent when needed. Long days, continual interruptions, and a constant focus on work can dull your senses and cause you to be less effective at what you’re working on. The result is more hours working with less work getting done.
3. Less Creativity. The human mind cannot be creative without plenty of time to digest information. When you’re constantly barraged with input, there is little time for contemplation, and this can cause the creative juices to dry up. The effect extends beyond work, of course, as a little creativity and innovation go a long way in every aspect of life, from raising children to maintaining friendships to staying healthy.
4. Weaker Relationships. Too much digital connection can lead to a decrease in physical relationships and actually cause you to feel more isolated rather than less so. Plus, digital communication is severely limited in the ability to communicate emotion and completely eliminates body language so it’s easy to be misunderstood or avoid deep connections altogether.
Disconnecting from Everything
The necessity of completely disconnecting is real, but achieving it can be difficult. From guilt over the feeling of shutting out friends and family to anxiety over missing important business messages, pulling the plug is no simple task. Some people go big and take extended “disconnection vacations.” If that’s not possible or practical for you, try these suggestions.
• Start & End Well. Begin and end each day without a smartphone, laptop, television, or other device. Instead, use that time to enjoy the peace, think about what you want to accomplish, reflect on your day, or spend time with your family.
• Tighten up Social Media Connections. If your main source of news is Facebook or Twitter, consider cutting ties to those connections. The constant barrage of news can be overloading and it’s easy to get lost in the habit of constantly checking. Instead, pick a few news distribution sites and subscribe to their RSS feeds.
• Reduce Push Notifications. These are the notifications that ring through on your phone from various apps. You don’t need instant notification every time you get a new LinkedIn connection or a friend sends a Tweet. Unless you receive urgent emails, turn those notifications off, too, and limit email to specific times or only while you’re at your desk.
Reconnect to Real Life
One of the best ways to disconnect from the digital world is to reconnect with people in real life. Whether this is lunch with a friend or a distraction-free hour at your child’s soccer game, every minute you take back from digital distractions will be rewarding.
If you’re looking for more ways to connect with like-minded women in real life, check out our calendar and find an event near you!