Social media, blogging, vlogging, emails, text messages – repeat. As a freelancer or founder, you'll know only too well the importance of the digital landscape for marketing your business.
But if you're not careful, you end up always online in a never-ending loop of checking multiple apps and channels, and that isn't good for anyone.
If you never give yourself time away from blaring screens and keyboards, your health and well-being are likely to suffer. That's because you never give your brain a chance to unwind; it's always switched on and busy. Busier than ever, in fact, as it's trying to do many things at once.
According to Earl Miller, a neuroscientist at MIT and one of the world's leading experts on divided attention, he says that our brains are "not wired to multitask well...When people think they’re multitasking, they’re just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so."
And because multitasking is linked to stress as well as the fight-or-flight hormone adrenaline, our brains can go into overdrive. We get addicted to the constant dopamine hits we get from 'likes' on Facebook, for example. Or the replies to tweets or emails. All this continuous activity is frying our brains and making us unwell.
You only need to look at the science to appreciate why it's essential to take some time out and step away from technology. It will ultimately make you a better entrepreneur, founder, team leader and happier human being.
So how do you switch off? Especially when your business requires a lot of your time and energy. Well, it's easier than you think. You can find ways to take some time out every day without affecting your business. We've partnered with Huckletree to uncover the secrets of daily digital detox.
Impose some strict new rules
The average person checks their phone 200 times a day – that's roughly once every six and a half minutes. And frankly, it's ridiculous.
From this day forth, you shall remove all unnecessary apps from your smartphone. That includes email – if you can help it. Do you need to check everything constantly? Admit it. You're addicted to technology, and you can't get enough of those oh-so-lovely dopamine hits. Ditch Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well – leave everything to your desktop only. Things can wait. You can check updates when you're next at your desk.
Move your web browser away from your home screen
It's a simple tip, but if you always find yourself reaching for your phone to find something online, then move your web browser app off your smart phone's home screen. Instead, hide it within a folder or place it on your second page, so you have to work a little to access it. You'll find that you obtain the web a little less than before.
Get an old mobile phone, a naff one
If you are weak when it comes to restricting tech, then for goodness sake, buy yourself a naff old mobile – one that doesn't even give you access to the internet. That way, you can still make calls and send/receive texts, but you have no opportunity to stay online.
Appreciate the benefits of "deep work"
Buy yourself a copy of Cal Newport's Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Basically, it talks about the concept of undistracted work. How you can achieve so much more if you focus on just one thing. So you see, stepping away from technology isn't just great for your well-being; it's essential if you're going to create your best work.
Every day, take some time away from your desk and technology to meditate. Find a quiet corner in your office or home, and enjoy some mindfulness. Use a helpful app like Headspace to teach yourself how to switch off. Just a few minutes can positively change the rest of your day.
Can't find anywhere to unwind? It might be time to find a new workspace. At Huckletree West, a new co-working space opening in London's White City Place this month, there is a Meditation Yurt – a fantastic, restful space constructed from mariner's rope where Huckletree will be running regular guided meditation sessions. Plus the Yurt will be open 24/7 for solo reflection and introspection.
Step away from all technology often
Your phone, your iPad, your desktop computer – find a little time every day away from them. When you give your brain a chance to rest, you might find that you come up with your best creative ideas. With all that constant multitasking gone, you'll be solving problems in no time.
At Huckletree West they've got a Willow Hut – a dedicated no-tech zone woven from willow branches for its members to quietly collaborate and find inspiration, or indeed enjoy a power nap. Perfect.
Enjoy a little fresh air, exercise and greenery every day
During your breaks, get outside if you can. A walk in the fresh air and sunshine will release those beautiful endorphins, which boost happiness, and studies have shown that moving your body can even alleviate symptoms of depression. What's more, physical activity outdoors and "exposure to nature" are known to have positive effects on your mental health.
At Huckletree West, there's an outdoor area where beautiful urban gardens run the length of the space with water features – perfect if you can only spare a few minutes for a break.
Keep tech out of the bedroom
Using technology at bedtime will negatively impact on your sleep. That's a fact. The blue light emitted from smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets suppress melatonin (the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle), keeps your brain alert and never lets you switch off.
To be well rested to face each working day, leave all technology out of the bedroom. And ideally, stop using your phone and iPad at least two hours before you go to sleep. Our advice? Sink your teeth into a good old book instead.
Leave weekends for real life
No, you do not need to go on social media at weekends. You don't. Do you want your life to be an endless scroll? Of course not. You're better than that. Leave your technology in another room and switch off all notifications, apart from if people are trying to message or call you. Find other "real" activities to take advantage of two days of being away from work.
If you're stuck for things to do, find a new hobby – preferably one that involves moving your body. Can you get into cycling? Visit British Cycling's Let's Ride to find recommended routes near you. Love walking? Check out National Trails for some ideas, or even the National Trust to find routes that throw in a little history too.
On a final note, change your mindset for life
Yes, you can impose a daily digital detox, where you step away from technology to ensure optimum health and well-being. But old habits might creep back in – if you don't keep tabs on yourself.
Appreciate the importance of giving your mind a rest and how it will positively help you become a happier and more effective entrepreneur. One that gets the job done without risking one's health.