Why Is It So Difficult To Disconnect?

Always On Culture – Her Agenda


May 28 2015, Published 3:30 a.m. ET

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Since you began enjoying Her Agenda today, how many times have you looked at your phone? Maybe you’re reading this on your device right now. Do you ever not have your phone with you?

In our technological world, there is an increasing pressure to be “always-on.” Why is it that we can’t seem to break from texts, emails, social media, blogging and all the other consuming activities we do on our electronics?

Author, blogger and “bliss builder” Deirdre Maloney talked to us to help us understand the debilitation of disconnecting. While being connected 24/7 has its benefits such as keeping our inbox empty, giving us less stress in terms of email and social media responses, we’re also being distracted from things we may need to get done.

Since we’re all accessible all the time we’ve created an expectation of “always-on” and quick response time. If unchecked, the pressure continues to build, forcing us to neglect special time with friends or family. This results in our relationships taking a toll, or maybe our work suffers or we start to lose sleep. Put this altogether and we’ve actually created a whirlpool of more stress and anxiety.

Deirdre explains the truth of the matter is: we really love the tech game and those connections we make so it’s actually addictive to us. “When we hear that digital ding, an email has come in or someone is texting us, it’s like an unwrapped Christmas gift. We know it means someone wants us or needs us.”

We feel connected, helpful, and useful. Plus, we’re being distracted from what we’re actually supposed to be doing. So, we actually love being accessible all the time. As a bliss builder, Deidre warns us that work/life bliss is actually not achievable, especially in the face of 24/7 connection.

While we’d like to think that if we just employ some discipline we can turn it off, we’re actually much less willing to give it up since we love the connections. Deirdre believes while we cannot have it all, given there is so much to do and only so many hours in a day, “you can have your all.” It is a matter of making choices and sometimes sacrifices in order to achieve the most important things you need to get done. We should be honoring the moments we need to better balance our lives.

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Always On Culture - Her Agenda

“When we have a constant influx of digital connections and dings, we’re not able to stay focused and emphasize the things we really want to do. If we really want “our all,” we need to be intentional about that and decide what we want to have in our lives.”

Technology as a distraction is okay and is part of our reality now; however, we need to decide for ourselves how our technology will work for us and not the other way around.

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We can start limiting distractions by setting up boundaries for ourselves such as “I am not going to check texts during this meeting” or “I will only check email at 9am, noon, and 4pm.” Deirdre emphasizes that finding our “tech bliss” is something personal to each of us and we should look within to ask “what do I really want to get out of my technology?” She believes we shouldn’t pressure ourselves to be perfect all the time and acknowledge what those digital connections do for us. She shared with us some of her personal tech practices:

  • Putting the phone face down and turning off the sound
  • If vibrations are a distraction, turn completely off
  • Closing the lid; for Deirdre, working from home as an entrepreneur, hearing the click of her laptop closing is as close to leaving the office as she can get

For many of us, the idea of disconnecting could be scary – what if I miss something, what if someone needs me, what if they don’t call me anymore? “It is a fear that disconnection is permanent disconnection when, in fact, we all are going to connect at some point.”

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Deirdre says change is scary, but if we stay in our fears we become stuck and even unhappy. It is “the stories we tell ourselves,” that keep us from doing what we want and finding our bliss. In the case of disconnecting, we’re simply not giving technology the power. It is us saying “texts get in my way today so I am going to set limits in this way.”

There are many positive benefits to disconnecting:

  • More focus
  • Increased productivity
  • We become more present and authentic with the people in front of us
  • We are more successful because we are doing the projects we set out to do

As the societal norm of “always-on” prevails, we have to recognize we have more choices than we think. Be very intentional about what you want your day to be filled with and decide how technology will best play a role in it. If your boss expects you to be connected 24/7, then manage those expectations directly with him or her.

“We have to decide what’s best for us and what will contribute most to our success and happiness.”

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Deirdre Maloney via Her Agenda
Bogus Balance -Her Agenda

Read more on Work/Life Bliss, disconnecting, and more on Deirdre Maloney’s Make Momentum site, blog and book Bogus Balance.

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