Get Your forest
by Ashley Brown
There are only so many hours in a day. Yes, that’s right—24 hours, to be exact. At times we are so busy we catch ourselves thinking (and even saying), “If I just had 4 more hours,” and the next day, “If I just had 6 more hours.” Where does the time go? Email, setting up meetings, rescheduling meetings, checking smartphone notifications, chatting on Skype or Google about a project or conference, checking on the kids, being on the phone, checking voicemail, and did I say emailing?
An article from the World Economic Forum states that executives today receive more than 30,000 external communications every year, compared to 4,000 in the 1980s. That was actually 30,000 in 2010, and I would have to believe that in 2016 it’s probably closer to 40,000 or 50,000. How would you have time for anything else besides managing communications?
Of course, as technology has changed so have our behaviors. Technology has helped us evolve and grow, without a doubt, but at times it is disruptive and counterproductive. The World Economic Forum says that, in a 47-hour work week, individuals only have 7 hours per week or fewer of uninterrupted time. Only 7 hours—just 15% of our week. Organizations constantly look at ways to implement new tools, apps, and software to make everyone more productive, but here is a thought: evaluate behaviors first.
When you are home or away from the office, how much time do you spend checking your smartphone notifications, reading MORE emails and sending off meeting invites? Challenge yourself, your friends, and your employees to be present. Whether you are in the office, traveling, at home, or in the car be present with your surroundings and you will find yourself happier and more productive. Embrace technology, but remember that it can be disruptive. We have the power to use technology responsibly, to be present at work and more productive, and also to be present at home with our spouse, kids or the pets. The damn dog has not played ball since last week.
Here are some ideas to challenge you. Try one, try them all or leave a comment with your habits on being more present.
- Set aside quiet time at work every day to finish the task that keeps getting interrupted. Turn off your Internet connection and put your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb.
- Check email only 3 times during the day.
- Get enough active time without technology in your hand. Music is fine but stop EMAILING during this time. Get 20+ minutes of active time everyday even if it is walking around the office building.
- Break without your smartphone. Take 5-15 minutes every few hours to meditate, breathe deeply, stretch or fill up your water.
- At night, turn your smartphone on do not disturb or night shift (recent feature I started using on my iPhone). Enjoy at least 30 minutes without technology or screen time. Journal, read a book or do a little yoga.
- Get your forest. Try something fun and compete with others. Download the Forest smartphone app for Apple or Android. This app’s goal is to keep you off your smartphone and to be present. It rewards you for doing so by building a virtual forest with an option to plant real trees when you have enough points. This may sound silly, but give it a try. Compete with me by inviting me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.