On CBS Good Morning, a poll on New Year’s Resolutions noted the fifth most popular resolution is to “unplug.” I have written before about this topic, but with people sensing being too connected is a problem, I thought I would rehash a few things. My favorite quote comes from a communication consultant, of all people, who observed “you can be too connected.” He is right and more folks are agreeing with him.
Being too connected means you are constantly on alert status. You feel obligated to look and respond to any ping from your mobile device. When I first wrote this, my major focus was work texts and emails. If you never unplug, then you are constantly working or thinking about work. Checking emails at 10 pm does not impress me. It also means you will have only passed the baton and will get it back when you awake the next morning.
Yet, personal texts, instant messages and emails, can cause a similar level of angst. There is a feeling you will be “out of the loop” or unneeded should you forego answering a message. You feel less wanted when someone does not immediately respond to your message, even when you do not ask a question.
Since the urge to remain connected is a strong one, the best way I have found is to compartmentalize your check-ins. If you feel your job cannot let you relax and stay unconnected during off hours (that is a debatable point), I would suggest you allow fifteen to twenty minutes of check-in time for work after the kids are in bed and then set the device aside for the night. The same holds true for personal messages. Set aside a focused amount of time and then turn the device off. You can even tell your friends that you are doing this, so they will not be offended by lack of response.
The above actions will be helpful to your mental health, but also to your physical health. You need to be unconnected from technology and especially from work to minimize stress. The same holds true when you go on vacation. If you need to check in, compartmentalize the time and then be done with it. It is unfair to you, your family and your co-workers. The co-worker unfairness part may sound strange, but if a boss keeps checking in, that sets the wrong example to the staff. And, I am citing a staff member who said this to her boss.
Unplugging will do wonders for your health. And, if someone comments to you about not returning a message immediately, tell them straight up what you are doing and encourage them to do the same. Finally, speaking of health, more states are passing laws banning texting while driving. Heed this law as it will save your life and that of others.