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Tweet Dreams

It’s time to go off the grid.

On a recent Sunday morning I was up before 5 a.m.  Why? I was having a hard time sleeping and just experienced a “Tweet dream.”  I was dreaming in a Twitter interface, responding to a fictional message, and posting fictional tweets created by my subconscious.  This is not the first time I have had a dream related to typing and working on a computer or mobile device. Often this happens when I am overworked and over-stressed.  I did not like dreaming “in Twitter,” I am sure I am not alone, and I have taken steps to bring this to an end.

In the public relations field it is difficult to go “off the grid.”  I am always available to clients to manage crisis situations and to communicate with local clients as well as others located in different time zones and around the world.  I am available virtually 24/7-365.  It is not uncommon to communicate with clients and the media late in the evening as well as on holidays and weekends.

With smart phones and their social media apps, email capabilities, text messaging and phone calls, it is nearly impossible to go incommunicado.  It is also difficult to resist what seams like a magnetic force pulling at you to check social media sites and emails.  Understanding social media is integral to my business and I need to keep on top of it.  Technology is terrific and social media has helped me to grow my business and help clients meet their promotional needs.  However, technology and being connected at all times can negatively impact many aspects of our lives, as evidenced by my Tweet dream.  Although being online and connected is important, we need to give ourselves and our brains a break from the high volume information we are processing or trying to process.  We have all heard of “information overload” and its detrimental impacts on individual and business productivity.

I recently met a noted author and expert in the field of information overload, Jonathan B. Spira, CEO and chief analyst of Basex.  His new book, Overload! How Too Much Information Is Hazardous To Your Organization, details how information overload has infiltrated the workplace and our daily lives.  The book offers tips and strategies on how to deal with the dizzying excess of information we receive.  Mr. Spira puts the cost of information overload on businesses every year into context and it is quite staggering number.

“The Twitterization of our culture has revolutionized our lives, but with an unintended consequence—our overloaded brains freeze when we have to make decisions,”

this is an excerpt from an article I Can’t Think by Sharon Begley writing for Newsweek magazine.  She outlines that having access to too much information impacts an individual’s ability to make decisions.  Inability to make decisions will stymie productivity and a business owner’s ability to lead his or her organization.

Information overload is a form of stress.  In terms of business it is evident that individuals who take breaks and vacations (in my case a break or vacation from being connected) can lower stress levels and become more productive.  According to an About.com’s stress management article there are many advantages of taking a vacation.  The following are two I found interesting:

Vacations Stave Off Burnout: Workers who take regular time to relax are less likely to experience burnout, making them more creative and productive than their overworked, under-rested counterparts.

Vacations Can Help With Your Job Performance: A study by the Arizona Health and Human Services department found that the psychological benefits that come with more frequent vacations lead to increased quality of life, and that can lead to increased quality of work on the job (source: Chikani V, Reding D, Gunderson P, McCarty CA. Vacations Improve Mental Health Among Rural Women: The Wisconsin Rural Women’s Health Study. WMJ, August, 2005).

That Tweet dream Sunday I reached the breaking point where I needed to make a commitment to myself and my family.  I suggest you consider making this same commitment to yourself and your family – disconnect and go off the grid. For many this will be very difficult to do.  For me, after my recent “Tweet dream” I am making the commitment to go off the grid not just once but periodically.  I will put my smart phone away and forward all calls to a landline for a firm staff member to handle. I can be reached by landline in the event of a real emergency or urgent media request.  Monitoring social media and news will be shared with others at my organization.  During my off-grid time I will focus on important real world activities such as spending quality time with my family including my wife and two-year-old twins Billy and Vita, getting out into nature and socializing with people in person instead of online.  I will not be surfing the web, reading or replying to emails, Tweeting, posting or even look at any app on my smart phone.   The urge will be strong to break this commitment, but I know that my productivity will improve and my stress level will decrease if I keep it.

I can report that I am slowly attacking my “addiction” to being connected.  I have been able to take several full days off the grid and I am looking for a vacation spot where I will have no option.

Author:

This article is provided by Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations, Inc., a leading media relations, social media and personal branding consulting firm.  For more information go to corbettpr.com or to his blog corbettprblog.com.

He can be reached at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.  Twitter @wjcorbett

Sources:

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Comments

  1. Grace Alexander says:

    Bill,

    I run my own social media marketing company and am a single mom supporting my family, so it is hard to go off the grid right now as I work constantly. However, I am completely stubborn about not owning a smartphone so I do escape for family time for a half day each on Saturday and Sunday – no Twitter, no Facebook, no Empire Avenue. Just bowling league, the arcade, oboe lessons and scouting. No-one understands how I can survive without the umbilical of a BlackBerry – but it is incredibly freeing knowing when I walk out of my home office, everything will just have to wait until I can get back. It’s all about deciding what takes priority in your life! I look forward to the point when I can take a whole day – or even a whole weekend off the grid! Your article gave me hope that this WILL happen 🙂

    ~Grace Alexander from Brilliance On Demand

    • That is why I don’t own a cell phone of any kind. If someone wants to call me, they have to call my land line. If I don’t answer, then I am not home, or just not able to get to the phone at that time. If it is important, they will call back. Life is to short to live and die by cell phone.

  2. I was off all internet activities for two weeks – not by choice – but by bad customer services. Well, that’s my best two weeks in two years. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. With so much technology around us, it is hard to escape it. Volkswagen has instituted that no emails be sent to their employee BB’s after work hours. Big organizations can sustain this, which is not possible for us small business owners. Still with some discipline one should be able to come up with a plan that balances work and life. This article delves into all aspects on being on the grid, a good read for folks like us giving us some food for thought.

  4. sounds like you need to unplug more often and take breaks throughout the day.

  5. I’ve had similar dreams and wake up in the middle of the night going over the day’s events in my head – phone calls, facebook, twitter. Going off the grid by choice is a terrific suggestion. Even if a person cannot take a vacation to a distant destination, I find doing an activity that I enjoy for an hour or two before I go to bed helps to quiet some of the day’s technology overload.

  6. Todd Robinson (@visualproky) says:

    good read.. thanks for sharing.

    Tunnel vision can hurt us all… I was lucky enough to learn that early in my Design education. If you are too close, you can loose focus on the entirety. I often find myself allowing the inputs (feeds, emails,etc..) to direct my focus or direction just to find out that what I intended to work on is still unaddressed at the end of a day. I try to break up the interactions just to allow my brain to focus with out inputs. This does help. I have trained myself to take a step back after an hour or so just to verify my energies are being spent in the right places. Depending on personality types, this can be a daunting exercise.

    Companies do personality profiling for hiring but then forget how to use them… Best advice I have is to have organizations do yearly seminars addressing how to engage based upon individual types. Seems obvious but I doubt there is anyone viewing this that has done it. Communications now battle with information overload. Not everyone will automatically have the skill sets necessary to combat this problem. Companies must have systems in place or they will suffer from a less productive employees.

  7. paulina rodgers says:

    It is sad to see how information overload can be addicting and consuming and we do need to take a conscious decision to just STOP and live our lives. it is very hard and I will start today. i will check my emails 4 time per day and social networks only 30 min in the morning (if it takes longer, that means I have too many of them) and 30 min at night, let’s see how that works!

  8. Was it a twitter dream or an Internet nightmare. Yes social media is VERY addictive. I also have to commit to take breaks from the computer like taking a walk outside on working days and take one day off from the computer on the weekend.
    I agree that the downside of technology is that all this information overload can be dangerous to our health. As hard as it is for us ‘social media evangelists’, we must GO OFF THE GRID on a regular basis and not wait for an ‘official vacation’ to do so. Thanks for the essential reminder, Bill. Good to see you at the Tweet Up.

  9. Fantastic article Bill,I could’t have presented this better. It is true with the world of social media and the need to keep in touch with your clients,prospects or even you leads,there is a great tendency to be addicted to your computer or smart phone.I for one has been fighting to stay off the computer to conquer the addiction.
    I hope some day I will be able to have a life described by Timothy Ferriss in his book 4hour work-week.I am yet to read the book but the review really gives an insight to how we can work less, achieve more and still enjoy the money you make.Things like using an auto responder for you emails or outsourcing your emails to virtual assistants compressing your 200emails to just 2 pages also by applying the Pareto’s law the 80/20 rule,real cool stuff.

Trackbacks

  1. […] an emotional response to this illogical problem. In fact, in a Digital Brand Marketing blog post, Bill Corbett Jr. is writing about the stress caused by Information Overload: Information overload is a form of […]

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