The transformative impact of technology today is incredible, especially when it comes to the way we work. Face-to-face meetings have given way to video conferences, mailrooms to inboxes, and typewriters and carbon paper to word processors, allowing us to maintain control over our digital environment as opposed to letting it control us.
But there are downsides as well to our technology-infused lives. Including the increasingly engaging aspects of technological design that have fueled, for many, a technology addiction, and sapped us of some things we can never get more of—our time and our attention.
Technology may have freed us from desks, but it has also affected other aspects of our work and life. According to the American Psychological Association, 53 percent of Americans work over the weekend, 52 percent work outside designated work hours, and 54 percent work even when sick.
Addiction to technology and the always-on work culture are also resulting in a societal lack of sleep. And while technology can enable us to engage in relationships across distances and time zones, this sometimes comes at the expense of good old-fashioned face-to-face relationships, affecting our social well-being.
But taking control of your digital environment is in your own hands, and a great place to start is with the digital detox challenge. This seven day program involves making small tech-related changes each day to develop better digital habits.
The Digital detox challenge:
The first step in starting the challenge is to make your commitment public. Research shows that if someone publicly commits to specific steps to achieve a goal, they are more likely to follow through. So share you challenge commitment with your friends, family, colleagues (and maybe encourage them to join as well).
Monday: Unsubscribe from all unwanted emails; unfollow anyone you don’t know on social media. If you are feeling really ambitious, put your phone on grayscale to reduce its distracting attractiveness.
Tuesday: Move any mobile apps that you have not used in the past month into a folder to cut down clutter; turn off push notifications on social media.
Wednesday: Charge your device outside of your bedroom, buying an alarm clock to replace your phone clock.
Thursday: Don’t look at your phone until you arrive at work. When you sit down for dinner, shut off your phone.
Friday: Eat all your meals in a room without a TV, phone, or computer for the day.
Saturday: Stay off social media for the entire day.
Sunday: Turn your phone off for eight consecutive hours (while you’re awake!); take your smart watch off your wrist.
A matter of habit
Improving our relationship with technology—both on the job and off—is less a matter of willpower. It’s about becoming more aware of our relationship with technology and building better habits. Many of our automatic, repeated behaviors are cued by environmental factors. People who successfully cultivate positive habits do so by taking the time to redesign their environments in ways that make positive behaviors more effortless and automatic.
Learn more in the Deloitte Insights report Positive technology: Designing work environments for digital well-being.
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