It’s time to go off the grid.
On a recent Sunday morning I was up before 5 a.m. Why? I was having a hard time sleeping and just experienced a “Tweet dream.” I was dreaming in a Twitter interface, responding to a fictional message, and posting fictional tweets created by my subconscious. This is not the first time I have had a dream related to typing and working on a computer or mobile device. Often this happens when I am overworked and over-stressed. I did not like dreaming “in Twitter,” I am sure I am not alone, and I have taken steps to bring this to an end.
In the public relations field it is difficult to go “off the grid.” I am always available to clients to manage crisis situations and to communicate with local clients as well as others located in different time zones and around the world. I am available virtually 24/7-365. It is not uncommon to communicate with clients and the media late in the evening as well as on holidays and weekends.
With smart phones and their social media apps, email capabilities, text messaging and phone calls, it is nearly impossible to go incommunicado. It is also difficult to resist what seams like a magnetic force pulling at you to check social media sites and emails. Understanding social media is integral to my business and I need to keep on top of it. Technology is terrific and social media has helped me to grow my business and help clients meet their promotional needs. However, technology and being connected at all times can negatively impact many aspects of our lives, as evidenced by my Tweet dream. Although being online and connected is important, we need to give ourselves and our brains a break from the high volume information we are processing or trying to process. We have all heard of “information overload” and its detrimental impacts on individual and business productivity.
I recently met a noted author and expert in the field of information overload, Jonathan B. Spira, CEO and chief analyst of Basex. His new book, Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization, details how information overload has infiltrated the workplace and our daily lives. The book offers tips and strategies on how to deal with the dizzying excess of information we receive. Mr. Spira puts the cost of information overload on businesses every year into context and it is quite staggering number.
“The Twitterization of our culture has revolutionized our lives, but with an unintended consequence—our overloaded brains freeze when we have to make decisions,”
this is an excerpt from an article I Can’t Think by Sharon Begley writing for Newsweek magazine. She outlines that having access to too much information impacts an individual’s ability to make decisions. Inability to make decisions will stymie productivity and a business owner’s ability to lead his or her organization.
Information overload is a form of stress. In terms of business it is evident that individuals who take breaks and vacations (in my case a break or vacation from being connected) can lower stress levels and become more productive. According to an About.com’s stress management article there are many advantages of taking a vacation. The following are two I found interesting:
Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.
Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: A study by the Arizona Health and Human Services department found that the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job (source: Chikani V, Reding D, Gunderson P, McCarty CA. Vacations Improve Mental Health Among Rural Women: The Wisconsin Rural Women’s Health Study. WMJ, August, 2005).
That Tweet dream Sunday I reached the breaking point where I needed to make a commitment to myself and my family. I suggest you consider making this same commitment to yourself and your family – disconnect and go off the grid. For many this will be very difficult to do. For me, after my recent “Tweet dream” I am making the commitment to go off the grid not just once but periodically. I will put my smart phone away and forward all calls to a landline for a firm staff member to handle. I can be reached by landline in the event of a real emergency or urgent media request. Monitoring social media and news will be shared with others at my organization. During my off-grid time I will focus on important real world activities such as spending quality time with my family including my wife and two-year-old twins Billy and Vita, getting out into nature and socializing with people in person instead of online. I will not be surfing the web, reading or replying to emails, Tweeting, posting or even look at any app on my smart phone. The urge will be strong to break this commitment, but I know that my productivity will improve and my stress level will decrease if I keep it.
I can report that I am slowly attacking my “addiction” to being connected. I have been able to take several full days off the grid and I am looking for a vacation spot where I will have no option.
This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm. For more information go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com.
He can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter @wjcorbett
- Stress Management
- Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization
- I Can’t Think
About Bill Corbett Jr.
This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm. For more information, go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @wjcorbett.