I’ve been sitting here trying to think of a topic and I’m drawing a blank. So that’s what I’m going to talk about. Nothing. Zero. Null.
My current daily focus centers on connecting people to people, people to robots, and people to data. So it involves a fair amount knowledge of understanding networking principles, tools, and concepts. However, I also have to lean into the philosophical and the “being human” side. So how as a “Collaboration” guy do I get people disconnected? How do I build things in such a way you actually have a chance to get to zero? Silence. Nothing.
It really comes as a series of recommendations because the technology that exists today is focused on keeping you connected 24x7x365 to something. That something could be work, data, or media. Being “disconnected” isn’t a concept that is around much anymore. It used to be a prevalent part of working with technology. Remember the “bring your laptop in for updates” events? How about before laptops? Keeping workers functional when disconnected used to be a very real thing. Now you’re always on and the traditional work day has long drifted away.
The first recommendation is get in complete control of your notifications. Even if takes hours to figure this out you should stop and write down or type out all of the things that “notify” you. Figure out how they notify you, prioritize, and if it’s not priority then turn it off! Those little red notification bubbles on all those apps are not needed. Remember – if the product you’re using is free then you are the product. Some companies need you “plugged in” to operate. In “priority mode” there should only be 2 or 3 things that notify and interrupt you while working. In “flex mode” feel free to open up those notifications a little more.
The second recommendation is get in control of your calling and texting notifications. If you have a business number and a personal number are you using your business number? That’s one way of setting up a barrier between being on and off. You can text with your business number quite a few different ways and companies should really consider offering that. Business calls, texts, and voicemails flow and stay within the business. The side benefit is it makes it easier for other people to cover your work as needed. If you need to disconnect for vacation, family, or whatever you can redirect that flow of information. It’s not so easy if the flow of information is direct to your personal. I think this is hugely important for getting to zero.
The third recommendation has nothing to do with technology. It has to do with you as a human exercising some deep rooted control over yourself. Tell yourself you’re done with work between certain hours. Tell yourself you’re done with all screens for periods of time. I’ve learned some things firsthand watching my children. Creativity doesn’t fully realize itself when we are constantly connected and feeding our minds. We need to be bored. We need to be off. Zero. Nothing.
I’m not treading any new ground here in anything I’ve said. There are some really awesome articles and research available on these topics. I highly recommend making sure you know how to disconnect without interrupting your work streams. If you’re the single individual in a corporate IT department get on contract with a managed services company to back you up. Everyone needs a break. Take one.