By Andy Bailey
If you’re in business, you have tight schedules to follow. I can relate. I’m always moving from place to place, coaching businesses across the country, and I need to allocate my limited time effectively — which means that I need to keep my mobile devices nearby to help me get work done.
I’m sure you know the value of technology in your daily process too. But how often do you take a step back to consider the impact of non-stop technology habits on your personal life? Is it eating away at precious time?
Our constant connection to our smartphones and tablets can directly impact our most important relationships. Unfortunately, too many of us still keep our heads buried in technology and end up missing out on what’s right going on around us. That’s why learning to unplug from the daily battle for our attention has never been more important.
Here are four different ways to disconnect and set aside time for the relationships in your life:
1. Reserve the time for a “device detox.”
While technology can be helpful, constant connection just isn’t necessary. Put a “device detox” on your calendar and prioritize that time to focus on the things happening around you. Engage your senses and change the constant habit of looking at your phone or laptop. Not sure if you can physically do it? Then you most definitely need it.
2. Get face to face with those around you.
The whole point of unplugging is to remove your face from your screen and place it in front of someone else. Intentionally spend face-to-face time with other people around you, and you’ll find that it’s easier to become more attentive and absorbent of information. True interpersonal interaction can do wonders in terms of communication. It’s something emails or texts or emojis will never be able to accomplish.
3. Engage others emotionally.
Ever wonder how people are feeling? If you’re a true leader, then it’s only natural to think about it. One of the benefits of a true “device detox” is to take time to understand others’ emotions. Ask real questions about how other people are feeling, and listen to the responses carefully. Engaging emotionally leads to better understanding of how people work, interact and communicate. And by sharing your own feelings first, you can help jumpstart a relationship based on shared understanding and communication.
4. Lead by example.
Some people may find it more difficult to unplug than others. For instance, the younger generation is accustomed to being on their devices constantly, while an older crowd may find unplugging more natural. To help influence those around you, be intentional about how you focus time and how you spend your time with technology. If you set aside moments with the people you care about, you’ll set an example for those in your business and in your personal life to do the same.
You don’t have to be perfect to prioritize uninterrupted moments with those around you. All it takes is an effort to get away from technology, and believe me — it’s worth the time. Just as you lead your organization or teams to work hard, you should be an example in getting those around you to unplug. And be an example. Show others what it means to maintain meaningful relationships and that the world doesn’t stop spinning if you’re not looking at your devices.
So, put your smartphone on “sleep” and close out of email. I promise it can wait — especially if it means you get quality time with the important people around you.
Andy Bailey is lead entrepreneur coach with business coaching firm Petra and serves in an advisory role on the Gazelles Council, the leaders of the Scale Up movement. Visit his blog at www.petracoach.com for more business and leadership insight. @.