Balancing Connection in an Uber-Connected WorldWe all know the cliché. The woman who wakes up, reaches for the phone, checks her email, RSS feeds, social media notifications, industry news reports—the works—all before she gets out of bed. Or maybe it’s the man who, after the morning shower, sits down at the kitchen table with his family, buries his nose in his iPhone, and responds to industry partners, pays the household bills, and checks market reports while breakfast gets cold. As technology further permeates every aspect of our lives, many of us see versions of ourselves in these examples. Pew Research’s latest study on teen Internet usage reports on how often teens and adults find themselves online reflect that reality, adding, for the first time, “almost constantly” connected as a survey option. This survey option marks uncharted territory, indicating that we’ve become more connected than we ever have been before—but is all this connection a good thing?

“Almost Constantly” Connected is Becoming the Norm

The “almost constantly” option first showed up in Pew’s report on teens in April of 2015 and was used again in their December report on adults later that year. Almost a quarter of teen respondents, 24 percent, stated that they were “almost constantly” online while 21 percent of adults indicated the same. In comparison, 42 percent of adults stated that they go online “several times a day,” 10 percent reported “about once a day,” 6 percent reported “several times a week”, and 7 percent chose “less often”. Only 13 percent of adults in this survey reported that they did not use the internet at all.

Pew’s survey and reports were related mostly to usage of smartphones and other mobile internet devices, supported by findings from an earlier Pew Report that showed that 27 percent of respondents used their smartphone apps “continuously”. Compare these with results from a 2015 Center for Creative Leadership report showing 60 percent of professionals surveyed were connected to work 13.5 hours a day during the week and approximately five hours during the weekend for a whopping total of 72.5 working hours a week. When you add it all up, it’s hard not to ask the question: are we spending too much time connected to the internet?

The Benefits of Powering Down

While there’s no getting away from the fact that if a job has to be done, it has to be done. However, you can absolutely alter how you get the job done. Stepping away from your mobile device and disconnecting every once in a while provides balance, which can have unexpected benefits and even lead to further productivity. Powering down can help:

  • Promote creation over consumption. The majority of the time we spend while working can be divided into two categories: consuming or creating. Most of that is spent consuming, or if not consuming we’re usually rushing to communicate with a colleague or friend. Stepping back from a constant stream of information will let you think, innovate, and come up with the best solutions you possibly can.
  • Promote deeper learning, retention, and understanding. Research has shown that the way we absorb, process, and retain information is affected by how we physically interact with information. Taking physical notes, for example, has been shown to deepen conceptual understanding taking notes with a keyboard and screen.
  • You’ll be more prosocial. A study on the effects of mobile usage on user behavior found that when people used mobile devices they were less likely to be “prosocial” – less likely to be outgoing and less liable to show concern for others. The paradox is that being connected all of the time can kill your ability to connect with others.
  • Fight technological fatigue & digital overload. The fact is, you have to be connected some of the time. But just like everything else in life, moderation and balance are key to preventing burnout and loss of motivation. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re chained to something you hate.

Compromise, Balance, and Manage Your Connectivity

Do you remember when you got your first smartphone or PDA? In the beginning, every new app was a new opportunity to see how technology could further streamline your workflow and productivity, and there was a sense of excitement in the air when installing each one. “There’s an app for that” never rang more true–but nobody knew what a headache that refrain would cause. Nowadays, getting all of your apps to work together seamlessly is a process, especially when you’re holding onto sunk-cost legacy apps that you’re not convinced you need to replace yet.

The repetitive processes of constantly switching from one app to another for the point solutions they provide not only contributes to technological fatigue, but when you add it all up, it can eat away hours of your time. Investing in unified communications and other interoperable solutions can speed up productivity and help get you some of that time back for yourself.

Just as you can be connected in all the wrong ways, it’s possible to pursue disconnection in poor form as well. Finding the proper balance and utilizing appropriate amounts of both connection and disconnection will help you optimize workflow, minimize inefficiencies, and spend your time connecting on the right things with the right people.

At Advanced AV we empower live meetings and remote collaboration by deploying the technology that helps your organization connect, communicate and engage with its customers, employees and stakeholders. Connect with us to find out more about how Advanced AV can help you achieve your business and technology goals.

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