Listen, we get it. We live in an age heavily, perhaps even slightly unhealthily, reliant on technology. For those who find themselves employed by an industry that relies on technology for most of its functionality (think: digital marketing), it becomes increasingly hard to step away from work and find that balance with life that we all crave.
And taking care to achieve that balance or some version of it, is becoming a bigger focus in our society. For good reason, too. We now have apps and even native settings designed to curb our smartphone usage, yet the average person spends a whopping four hours on their mobile devices each day.
For those working with clients in the digital space, be it marketing, advertising, public relations, or social media management, the challenge of stepping away can be even further exacerbated. How, then, can digital marketers or other professionals who rely on the internet for most functions truly find a balance and step away?
And is this even an important thing to try to do? Absolutely, yes. Today, more people show more signs of smartphone addiction. The scariest part? Most people would vehemently deny this “addiction” because it sounds so troubling and difficult to believe.
Now more than ever is an important time to make sure that we all take the time to step away and “unplug”. Finding that balance presents a challenge, but it’s far from impossible. But with just a few easy steps and a few tweaks to one’s routine, making a change for a healthier lifestyle is closer than it may seem.
Sometimes, all one may need to change habits is a bit more structure. Getting into a new routine can take some time, but by setting realistic and achievable goals and making incremental progress, this process can be one that actually sticks.
Try setting up a schedule in which you allow for some uninterrupted time off the phone and away from the computer. It doesn’t have to be an all-out detox, either. In fact, setting yourself up for success with more “bite-size” goals can actually be more beneficial in the long run. So start with scheduling an hour into your day of “no phone zone” time. Go to the gym, take the dog for a walk, or read a book. As you become accustomed to this, increase your time until you’re working towards a longer period of offline time.
Worried about missing an important email or phone call? This is a valid concern, but you can still achieve a balance of not feeling obligated to be at your clients’ beck and call at any hour of the day.
Work your uninterrupted offline time into your schedule gradually, starting with times that tend to be more “off-peak”. This may be first thing in the morning or later in the evening — and that’s a perfectly acceptable place to start! Remember: start small, get used to that change, and then increase from there.
But what about that one client who never seems to put their phone down? At any given time, on any given day, they may call with an emergency that must be dealt with. Particularly for those working in public relations, this can be a common argument against unplugging.
One thing to bear in mind here is that boundaries are still okay to have, and they’re also important to have. Setting boundaries and expectations with clients and colleagues helps save one’s sanity. You might consider setting up a voicemail box or texting service to help navigate and triage client issues when they come in during off-hours.
At the end of the day, the performance of a professional is very heavily dependent on their health, both physically and mentally. It’s important for even the most connected to try to step away from time to time in order to keep that edge they’ve worked so hard to cultivate.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO and Founder of 5W Public Relations