September 25, 2018

On September 11th – 12th we attended DigiFest at Anglia Ruskin University, Sadie Hopson, Managing Director of We Work Well, was a keynote speaker for the event and delivered a presentation to the staff at the University about tackling work related stress and remaining resilient in a digitally connected world at the Chelmsford and Cambridge campuses.

This was my first event I attended since joining We Work Well and what a great event to get involved in about enhancing your digital know-how as we now live in a more digitally influenced world. Sadie spoke about the importance of switching off and taking time out, with smart phones, social media and non-stop emails taking over our lives. Sometimes we need to take a break from it all, take a step back and relax, to not think about how many un-answered texts and emails are in the inbox or what’s the latest hashtag trending on twitter.

It was a great turnout as lots of the university staff attended the sessions over the two days with everyone in the group getting involved and thinking about how our lives are more digitally influenced than before. Sadie is brilliant and the way she presents really draws you in and gets everyone engaging with each other. At the beginning of the session Sadie asked for 6 volunteers in the room to hand over their mobile phones, this was to show the impact of constantly being connected to show how this can affect us. Sadie kept hold of these phones and didn’t explain the reason why she took them away until 30 minutes after, this showed how our anxiety levels increase if we haven’t got access to our mobile phone, as some volunteers agreed they were feeling rather anxious at the thought of not having their mobiles with them.

Sadie also explained the average work email remains unread for just six seconds - this indicates the scale of the growing problem of digital overload and the escalating issues around email addiction. We must do more to actively unplug, switch off and redefine the boundaries between our work and our down time. Being reliable is not the same as being available.

It was great to talk to some of the staff afterwards about their own experiences about dealing with digital issues they have in their life. I learnt a lot myself, so I am sure everyone who attended the session did too. We also found out that in a recent survey, 46% of people would rather break a bone than break their phone, which is a scary thought, and the other 54% who said they would rather break their phone, hesitated at this aspect! This shows just how much we rely on technology and being digitally connected all the time, what did everyone do before social media and smart phones?

Here are some practical tips for disconnecting —

  • Have a 1 week detox from social media
  • Enjoy using a pen and paper – create, draw, write
  • Get a basic phone only available to your nearest and dearest
  • Switch your mobile phone on flight mode – give yourself a little break from your device with no disturbance from texts or notifications that frequently beep
  • Use an alarm clock instead of using your phone to wake you up
  • Slay the zombies and take control of your emails - schedule your emails - send less, receive less - set expectations
  • Focus on what is essential

I have definitely taken it all in and will be mindful when going to bed at night to try and avoid checking my mobile phone, as it’s so easy to sit and scroll through social media all night and not know when to stop and put the phone down, this keeps your mind active so it’s harder to fall asleep. Hence why I think it’s a great idea to go on a digital detox and maybe stay off social media for 1 week, nothing is going to change, it will always be there!

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