I am just back from a fantastic five day camping trip with my family. We are big camping and outdoors fans so we all had a ball. This trip was made even more interesting by a decision I made before we left.

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Is it Time to Disconnect?

I am just back from a fantastic five day camping trip with my family. We are big camping and outdoors fans so we all had a ball. This trip was made even more interesting by a decision I made before we left.

I decided to totally disconnect from all technology for the whole trip. No email. No Facebook. No Twitter. Even the mobile phone was switched off. Not a scrap of technology for the entire time. Zilch!

Interestingly, I felt quite liberated and actually enjoyed being totally disconnected from all things technology & online. Although I know some people who would feel their right arm had been cut off if they were totally disconnected even for a day!

This experiment raised some important questions:

Do we now live in a world where we are over connected?
And if so, what impact is that having on our business, family life and lifestyle?
Are you over connected?

3 ways being over connected is damaging:

  1. Constantly interrupting business activities to check email and/or social media reduces productivity
  2. Quality of family time and relationships is reduced if you are regularly distracted by your online activities
  3. Having no controls, purpose or strategy over the frequency or duration of being connected means more important things get neglected.

The list could go on and on but the point I am trying to make is this:

Would you benefit from reducing the amount of time you allow yourself to be connected and contactable?

Not just to protect productivity in your business but also protect your family life and relationships.

Tips for setting “connection” policy

  • Stop checking email throughout the day. Set times and duration for doing this. Sign out in between.
  • Set times and durations for your social media activities
  • Ensure you are clear on your social media purpose and strategy. Stick to it.
  • Do not allow offline activities (eg business planning, creating new products, playing with kids etc) to be interrupted by online activities.

Being over connected can be very damaging to all areas of work life and personal life. Choose to manage your online activities effectively or they will take over and manage you.

Is it time for you to put a “disconnect” policy and boundaries in place?

Related post:Confessions of a Social Media Virgin!

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  • Ali – you brought up a very valid point. So often we are over zealous about being online for the wrong reasons – and it just is very counter productive.

    Just yesterday, I was reading another post by Mike Cliffe-Jones – which drove home the same point: http://www.mikeslife.org/content/how-get-ideas-

    We seem to be at our creative best when we're offline, and disconnected. And yet, most of us get our priorities wrong – and assume that being disconnected is shameful, embarrassing and/or taboo.

  • Hi Kapil, there seems to be some noise starting to be made about the importance and value of disconnecting. Hope it gathers pace and speed. I agree with your point we are more creative when offline. I now have a firm disconnect policy and encourage other people to do the same. Thanks for droppnig by and sharing your view.

  • Agree, Ali.

    And it also takes a lot of personal commitment – similar to the ground rules you've set for yourself via the disconnect policy.

    There seem to be increasing expectations in the corporate world – with the perception of success thriving on being connected all the time. Who cares for disconnect policies – and work-life balance?

    It takes all the courage one can muster to put our feet down, and working on getting the right ducks lined in a row 🙂

  • I spent 14 years in the Corporate world before becoming self employed. I think the measures of success can be a bit dubious to say the least and are very much organisation focussed rather than people focussed (even in companies that profess to have work lfie balance policies). I think we have to stand up, take 100% responsibility for the quality of our own lives and take decisions accordingly.

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Ali, you captured so many things in this post! The liberation of being totally disconnected, the distraction factor from other core pursuits, and the opportunity to set boundaries for ourselves. Thanks for addressing it head on!

    After my first several months in SM, I took my first step at setting boundaries–being offline starting Friday night through at least Sunday night, sometimes including Sunday night. Giving myself the weekend off.

    More recently, I've been working on daily boundaries. None of this is pure–meaning I am trying to set new boundaries, but mostly it starts in my head–I give myself permission to not owe my time to SM first. For me, that is showing up in “putting in the big rocks first”–giving my best time to the things that are most important to me and letting SM be an overflow of that. It's in process–not at all a perfect science yet.

    I so agree with Kapil about creativity happening in the disconnected space. Also, very insightful that we deal with emotions of guilt and shame if we are not connected or contact-able. Good points!

    This is a great conversation!

  • Thanks Cris. I must admit I was surprised how strong the feeling of liberation was. As a result am stepping up my disconnect policy even more. Thanks for sharing what you are doing on this subject. Your comment “putting in the big rocks first” is SO important. It is easy under perceived pressures to be dealing with so many small rocks that there is no place for the big ones to fit.

  • Sharon

    Ali – I will also share my experience – family week away last week and enjoyed the freedom just like you. The biggest realisation I had when I came back was that I did not miss anything, I had prepared my business for my leave, I respected my leave with no indulgence in the online or business world. It worked, I loved it and most importantly the family loved it. Glad you had a great break.

  • Sharon, thanks for sharing your experience. I think all the comments here highlight the need to not just be connected blindly, but to be connected with purpose and only to the extent that it serves that purpose and doesn't detrimentally impact on what is most important in business, family life & lifestyle.

  • Ali,
    In full agreement. I think the greatest fear of the “disconnect” is caused by the attachment to perfection in our work. As you write, if we don't manage – than the on-line world will manage you. It's crucial to put an action plan into place. There's just about no way to keep up, we can really just stay as present as we can and yield to the reality of our lives. If we're 24/7 we're burnt out and not effective.

  • Judy, agree with your perfectionism point. In addition, many entrepreneurs have allowed themselves to create habits that just aren't necessary and even detrimental to their desired outcomes – especially around being connected to computers, phones, social media etc. As you point out, an action plan based on desired outcomes, goals and strategy is crucial. It will help with identifying if our habits are serving us or are holding us back.
    I think your last point is the most important – we are not designed or equipped, mentally or physically, to operate 24/7. By ignoring that we are sabotaging our own success in work and living life.