The Trend of Unplugging


There seems to be a new trend in the world of social media. Unplugging.

Be it the author of The Winter of our Disconnect, the Sabbath Manifesto creative project that promoted a National Day of Unplugging, or your neighbor, everyone seems to be discussing the advantages and disadvantages of disconnecting –for a few hours or a few months.

I’ve written about the impact of screen time on my three-year old and trying to set a good example at home about the importance of family time vs. iPad time, but today, I’m wondering about work. What are the pros and cons of always being connected?

Adding social media to your daily dose of work habits brings multitasking to an entirely new level, and according to a new survey by software company Harmon.ie and polling researchers uSamp, probably not in a good way.

In fact, they uncovered some interesting stats.

  • More than half of U.S. workers waste an hour or more a day on interruptions: 60% come from electronic devices and e-mails, while the other 40% come from traditional sources, such as phone calls or chats with colleagues.
  • 45% of workers say they can't go more than 15 minutes, on average, without an interruption.
  • Distractions cost businesses $10,790 a year per worker, the study finds.

"The issue isn't whether you're working, it's whether you lose your focus when something pops up on your screen," says David Lavenda, a vice president at Harmon.ie, based in Milpitas, Calif.   I couldn’t agree more.  I even find the draw of the outlook envelope too much to resist on most days, much less the ping of a text message.

In theory, when you are “unplugged” productivity should increase. Imagine one hour at work without the instant message popup, the chirp from TweetDeck or even that outlook envelope you see out of the corner of your eye.  That said, I’m implementing a few techniques to see if I can increase my productivity without completely unplugging.  I’m offering my “advice” below on how to take action, but would love to hear your thoughts/suggestions on unplugging and reducing distractions at work.

My Thoughts:

  • Try unplugging for a few hours each day.
  • Try focusing on one or two tasks at a time, I believe you’ll be amazed and how fast said tasks can be completed.
  • Don’t follow people on Twitter just to increase your “Klout” score.  If you don’t care what someone has to say, why are you reading it? If you follow 1000 people there is NO way you can truly follow them and garner useful information from them.  Follow only those that you respect from a personal and professional standpoint.
  • Defriend or hide updates from those draining Facebook friends that update too much.  Again, if you don’t care about what that random person you met on vacation five years ago is doing or saying, why are you still reading their updates five times a day?
  • Turn off your phone in meetings, especially meetings with clients.

By Heather Graham

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