Unplugged Part 2: Unplugged Entrepreneurs find Business Success

In Unplugged Part 1: Unplugged Employees Boost Business Success, I made the case for workplaces cultivating a healthier relationship between employees and the technologies they’re expected to use because their productivity and, by extension, your company’s success, depends on it. This follow-up article is aimed more squarely at you as an individual and your personal relationship to technology. Being constantly “plugged in” to the constant stream of emails, instant messages, texts, and all manner of other notifications from social media and other sources can take a serious toll on your personal sanity. Now is the time to overhaul your relationship to technology.

What Individuals Can Do

While it’s important for companies to overhaul their expectations of workers, it’s even more important for each individual to take responsibility for creating a healthier relationship to technology. We all know how addictive the social media feeds and texts can become. If you don’t intentionally set boundaries, you can get sucked in and lose big chunks of time in your life. As writer/designer/photographer Craig Mod recently put it in an online article, “There are a thousand beautiful ways to start the day that don’t begin with looking at your phone. And yet so few of us choose to do so.” I like that because it emphasizes the fact that unplugging is a choice each individual has to make, and depending on how dysfunctional your relationship to devices is, it might be really difficult to do. But remind yourself what’s at stake here: Your attention span. Your ability to focus on important tasks. Your sanity. The stakes are high!

The Business of Stealing Your Attention

There is something else that makes unplugging difficult, which is the apps themselves and how they are designed. The desire to check your phone is natural because the apps insistently demanding your attention are specifically designed to hook you in and keep you there as long as possible. The companies behind the distracting apps have made it their mission to steal your attention – and they’re very good at it.

Create a Simple, Sustainable Boundary

If you want to get your attention back and feel truly refreshed and able to focus on what’s important, then set some real tech boundaries and stick to them. Craig Mod came up with a very simple approach that works for him: Unplug before going to bed. Don’t plug back in until after lunch. Obviously, he’s prioritizing a well-rested morning without tech-induced distractions. If that many hours unplugged sounds like too much to you, start off with just an hour or two, and after you get used to that, see if you can increase it. Your ability to unplug will give you a surprisingly distinct competitive advantage in the digital era. 

Now is the time to ask yourself what kind of relationship you have to technology and whether or not it’s time to make a change. As counter-intuitive as it may feel in this brave new world of the digital era, consistently finding times to be unplugged can go a long way towards boosting your success as an entrepreneur.  

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