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Systems down

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BY Mel Hammond

{Communications}

23 June 2017

It’s actually incredible how debilitating it is when the tool of your trade deserts you, even temporarily. We’re currently experiencing some wifi downtime, and it hit me just how much someone today relies on being connected, 24/7. Or at least relies on the potential for being connected.

Especially in an industry like ours, but even in most people’s day-to-day, almost every single action relies on that availability. And it’s become second nature, so even when you KNOW that you can’t, your muscle fibres still automatically return to those consistently repeated tasks.

Send a message to a colleague in Slack, our team communication wonder-tool. Nope.
Finally, I have time to write that email that I’ve been putting off for a few hours. Nope.
Get those invoices out.
Update that Google sheet.
AAAARRGGGH.

What now? There are many fewer distractions to take me away from whatever task I choose to start. Not even Spotify. I can sit here and take the time to pour out ideas or read that industry magazine, or whatever. So, here I am, jotting down a quick blog article. But still, I’m twitching to check all of the channels normally vying for my attention, instantly forgetting each time that they aren’t accessible.

I’m not someone who would consider themselves ‘addicted’ to the internet. I am old enough to remember a time without it, or with very limited access to it at least. But even so, just thinking about looking up directions (who has a road map in their car anymore?!), paying a bill, booking flights, reading the news, all without the internet, gives me a headache. No Google. No Facebook. No continuous source of entertainment, enabling you to watch whatever you want, when you want.

Okay, in this instance I could just pick up my mobile, but what is being constantly ‘switched on’ doing for us?

How many times a day do you check your phone, those little red notifications piquing your interest (and then nearly always disappointing!). Even when you don’t hear it ring or ping, you check it anyway, right? This constant need to be able to check on something or someone immediately, and often doing many things at the same time, encourages unfocused multi-tasking, as opposed to long periods of actual concentration. This procrastination distracts us from what’s really important.

You might think that having 24/7 access to your social media, email, texts etc, means you have more connection with your friends, but is it a real connection, and what is it doing to our communication skills? A few quick words, an emoji or two, thumbs up…job done. Really? Is that the best we can do?

Do I need, or want, to be connected to my work 24/7? Did I need to reply to that message from the boss last night at 7.45pm while I was making dinner? It’s now possible to never stop working, even without being sat at your desk. Keep stress in check by distancing yourself from your work environment at night and on the weekends. You probably don’t NEED to reply to that email ‘til Monday morning.

The good news is, it would appear we can undo all of the stresses of constant bombardment, FOMO, reduced productivity and the rest, by unplugging and rebooting every once in awhile. When possible, could you try to step back from your “always-on” lifestyle, and go off grid? Actually talk to a real person, face to face. Read a book or a newspaper.

Aaaaand we’re back! Normality is restored. My brief digital detox is done for now. And I got this blog out of it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mel Hammond

Mel wears many hats in the office, looking after our digital marketing and administration. She has a creative eye and a way with words, which means she’s an ace copywriter and proofreader (very important given the level of spelling from some team members!)

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