You are guilty, through and through. Caught smart-handed with a buttonless phone in your clasp, waiting anxiously and checking in with an unconscious fervor for the electric impulse of the next notification. And as you mindlessly perform this subtle, but repeated action at work, it may turn out that you are blameworthy of the same act at home too.

There is little time to fully relax during the workweek, as business and online customer service has become omnipresent. We fear we cannot miss a call, or an email, as our careers (indeed our entire futures!) are on the line. At the same time, we realize the dangers of working too many hours, even experiencing anxiety and stress at the thought of countless tasks piling up before our very eyes.

When we are pushed to our limits, we are forced to break down or change tactics. The latter option of readjusting our behavior is always recommended: be fully present in the moment, practice mindfulness and take time to reflect on the situation that made you frustrated in the first place.

Thirty years ago, business was different, more relaxed and carefree, though our short-term memories have a tendency to fall short of water cooler and light-hearted break room conversations. Now, it is all about the connection to the screen that propels us further into the day, rather than the personal links which keep us grounded in a fulfilling life. Momentarily, we find that our presence is required at all seconds of the day, keeping track of just how efficient, or inefficient, we are.

Time is an issue of the greatest importance, sometimes is matters more than we believe.

It is not just on-the-job time that adds up to a full day, it is on the phone-laptop-screen minutes that multiply and decrease our productivity, that count the most. Distractions have become a liability, as social media connectivity keeps us coming back for more. More of what? Often irrelevant images, GIFs and videos that prevent us from completing the essential tasks at bay.

The ultimate best way to minimize distractions is to stop the flow of where they originate from. You may even want to declutter your office before you get started on reducing your addiction to technology, for the sake of seeing the big picture more clearly.

A digital detox is about setting limits

In business, and life in general, it is best to prevent problems before they arise, that is exactly what the 5S principles are all about. When we achieve a state of order, or orderliness, it is easier to find what we are looking for – a business design that is easy to maintain. It is also about reducing items where they do not belong, and in the case of a thriving business, this may mean eliminating some, or all, of technology for a portion of the day, to allow time for free thinking and creativity to blossom.

When you begin to see undue distractions in the workplace, it may be time to alter your company policy to include technology-free time during office hours. Perhaps it is just 30 minutes of phone-free time to start with as everyone gets (re)acquainted with quiet time, finally working your way up to several hours off the screen. Play with your digital limits to discover what works best in your business.

Screen-free in the workplace

Digital detoxing is trending for all the right reasons. Setting down your device encourages you to reconnect with the people around you, i.e. it allows time for employees to communicate directly with each other. Spending less time face-to-face with a screen allows you to sleep better at night, which directly translates into enhanced daytime productivity. Shifting the focus from screen-time to down-time, allows you to improve your attention span as you drastically decrease pinging distractions. Screen-free time also allows the freedom to be bored, which in turn increases creativity.

Benefits abound when you not only encourage employees to spend out-of-work hours offline, but on-the-clock time too.

  • Encourage no-tech meetings. No smartphones present, no laptops either. Instead, allow for old-fashioned note taking with pen and paper – important information will be better retained this way.
  • Digital detox as a team. One person doing this alone does not have the same impact as the entire force performing a digital detox together. Focus on team building and effective communication as you explore what sustainability in business means.
  • Device lock-in. Allow employees to leave their phone in a safe place overnight, so that they may go home without the responsibility of responding to work related issues.

While there are plenty of apps to help you manage your screen-time, best is to be able to turn it off at your own free will, for as long as necessary each and every single day.

Get ready to discover the best work-life balance possible!