‘A 2018 survey from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development found that 74% of HR professionals see the positives of technology because of the flexibility it provides staff. However, 87% said that this technology has created an environment where we struggle to switch off’.

This challenge is real for all of us and depending on the nature of our personalities, circumstances and work, we find it more easy or more difficult to unplug and switch off.

Technology is designed to be addictive. The ingredients in digital products – social media, video games, apps are lovingly engineered to keep you coming back for more and more. App notifications, likes and messages that self-destruct — are proven to make us want to check in/respond NOW. If we don’t, we feel like we are missing something important. You have the phone with you so why not check it now and perhaps even avoid or put-off something you don’t want to do.

A 2018 Deloitte study in Ireland suggested that the average phone user (90% of adults have smart phones) picks up their phone 55 times a day (down from 57 times in 2017) with 13% admitting to looking at it more than 100 times a day. If you only lose 1 minute every time you pick it up, that’s a 55 or 100 minutes depending on your usage. With time being our most valuable resource, it is an obvious place to look if you are trying to make more time for anything in your life.

The reduction in use shows that people are copping on to the down-side of the weapons of mass distraction in our phones and computers. It is good to understand the trends but it is most important to understand your own usage, and that of those important to you (as an employer, manager or parent etc). There are many ways of tracking it and the amount of time you are spending or wasting may surprise you.

Technology is amazing and powerful. It makes so many things possible for us – remote working, keeping things moving while you are on holidays and staying in touch with loved ones wherever they are to name a few. It can give you a living, grow your business to new heights and connect you with wonderful people. It is here to stay but, it is important it is used to serve you, your life and your happiness and that you are not a slave to it.

A key challenge with using our phone and apps excessively is that they fragment our ability to focus. A third of respondents in the same survey in 2018 said they experienced increased levels of distraction as a result of using their mobile phones when trying to complete a task.

Like with any good thing in life, having the right boundaries at a personal level (and policies at a professional level) will ensure you maintain your ability to focus which is fundamental to both getting the job done and experiencing happiness, joy and feeling truly connected to yourself and others.

Our online life is there to serve and enhance our ‘real’ life. As long it does, we are on the right side of it. There are lots of warnings signs of over-use. How often do you see four people in a restaurant together glued to their phones ?

Creating simple boundaries, can enable you to focus better, deliver quality work more quickly and spend quality time with family, and friends. This week look at your usage. Assess the benefits, plan the changes and enjoy the results.