How to escape it
When you work in the digital sphere, it’s impossible to be completely immune to technology addiction on the job. Whether it’s the little red unread-message buttons glowing at you from your desktop while you’re trying to focus, or the insatiable urge to pull-to-refresh your phone the minute a meeting gets boring, the tools we use in the workplace are designed to be just as addictive as the apps, sites and social media we use in our free time. And because so many of us use our phones in a bring-your-own-device work capacity, the lines get even blurrier: 28% of adults now say they are almost-constantly online (and among those with college degrees, that number jumps to 36%).
Let’s take a look at the state of technology addiction today, the latest solutions, and how you can help build technology addiction awareness and help your teammates break the cycle.
What is Technology Addiction?
Let’s be clear that that itch you need to scratch when you tab over to Slack in the middle of a dull work project isn’t a personal weakness. We’re all grappling with some level of technology addiction because the apps, websites and social media we use are designed to be addictive—so addictive, in fact, that lawmakers are now trying to curb social media features that ensnare us, such as infinite scrolls and YouTube videos that endlessly autoplay.
Unlike other addictive substances like drugs or alcohol, we can’t realistically escape technology forever. (How would we work?) That said, some experts feel that giving yourself a carefully-planned break from your screens can help your brain reset itself.
Apps for technology addiction
If you want a solution to your phone attachment that, well, you can use on your phone, Google has developed a series of “digital wellbeing experiments” designed to help you recalibrate yourself.
- Paper Phone doesn’t let you text or take selfies—or make phone calls, for that matter. It’s just a piece of paper customized with essential information from your phone—addresses, maps, phone numbers, maybe a crossword puzzle or sudoku thrown in for fun—that lets you step away from your actual phone for the day. (Sort of like a dayplanner, if anyone used those anymore.)
- Lock Clock is a wallpaper that tells you (or perhaps guilts you), in giant numbers, how many times you’ve unlocked your phone today.
- Desert Island only surfaces whatever you deem are “essential” apps, while Morph shifts which apps surface depending on your activity (no work emails during your daily run, for example).
- Post Box, perhaps the most reasonable of the bunch, holds all your notifications until you’re ready to deal with them, presenting them to you in a neatly-organized format.
While these apps are still in the experimental stage, Google also has general tips about how you can modify your current Android apps to make them chill out and give your brain a rest.
Digital detox retreats
For the tech elite who have the cash to enlist some help, digital detox retreats, events and trips offer a forced separation from their devices while keeping them entertained.
- The QT hotel chain in Australia offers a “Power Down” package where guests surrender their phones to hotel staff while engaging in spa treatments, yoga, and access to a “Wellness Guru” that helps them avoid “nomophobia” (the fear of being without your phone).
- Camp Grounded is an annual off-the-grid getaway that offers summer camp-themed kitsch (yes, there are singalongs and canoeing) as well as analog activities like film photography and old-timey typewriter classes. There’s already a waitlist for the next event in May.
- Silicon Valley’s latest wellness trend takes digital detoxes to the next level with so-called dopamine fasting. By taking a 72-hour break from screens (as well as other, real-world dopamine stimulants like delicious food and exercise) the brain’s rewards system gets a reset, allowing you to reconnect with your screen in a healthier way. While the science behind this is pretty questionable, it is true that forcing yourself to not give into a conditioned response (such as grabbing your phone when you’re bored or uncomfortable) for a period of time does help weaken that conditioning in the long run.
Technology addiction at work
Yes, tech jobs require a lot of screen time. But managing your tech use at work allows you to increase your attention span and be more productive, too. Here are a few things you can do:
- Schedule phone-free meetings. After you call in remote workers on your Elite Slice for Meeting Rooms, keep the room free of mobile devices. (Some experts recommend laptop-free meetings too, but that’s not really realistic in the tech field.)
- Encourage screen-free breaks. Research has shown that the most productive way to work is for a 52-minute stretch followed by a 17-minute break. Yes, that ping-pong game or walk to the corner coffee shop really does help you get your work done.
- Turn off chat and email across the company for an hour every week. You might be surprised how popular these “power hours” are and how much they help employees regain their focus.
- Remove out-of-hours access to chat and email. This is a major step that requires buy-in from the CEO on down. But if you can manage it, even for a couple nights a week, your team will appreciate the work-life balance it offers.
There’s no better way to digitally detox than reviewing your ideas on paper. Let us help you choose the perfect HP Business Printer for your team.