Disconnecting used to mean “terminating a connection” or “to become detached or withdrawn.” In today’s workforce, the term has new meaning – to take a break from consuming information overloads to make room for creativity and relaxation.
We all say we need to disconnect. We believe it’s healthy for us, but do we actually do it? Maybe we really aren’t sure how to disconnect. Could technology, the very thing some say is the cause of information overload, be a good first step for disconnecting? We had our Learning & Content Coordinator, Stacy Cross, research a few of these disconnecting apps, to see if they work. Below are her pros and cons to each app.
To Disconnect On-Demand
Pros: The creators of Offtime have given this app a unique ability to let you unplug without missing those truly urgent communications. The app allows you to create a list of important contacts who are able to reach you, even in your downtime – like your spouse or children. For all other communication, Offtime shuts down apps, calls, texts, and emails. You can also create auto-responses to incoming messages. When you are ready to reconnect, the app has maintained a detailed activity log of everything missed while unplugged so you can quickly catch up. Offtime is ideal for use during meetings or detailed project work. The app’s fully customizable features allow users to feel at ease with disconnecting, without the fear of feeling completely unreachable or missing an important request.
Cons: To get the full functionality of Offline, you will need to purchase upgraded versions of the app. Several features of the app are not automatically turned on when you use your phone or desktop and must be manually adjusted to begin use.
To Analyze Your Time
Pros: RescueTime runs seamlessly in the background of your desktop or phone with very little attention from the user. The idea behind the app is to track how you spend your computer (or phone) time – though it can also be tailored to tracks only the apps and sites you choose. For data-lovers, the best feature of RescueTime is the reports. Clear and concise charts and graphs analyze how to become more productive. At the end of a week, you can see how many hours you’ve spent on productive tasks vs. distracting tasks. You can even narrow your view to one particular day and examine whether you were more productive in the morning or in the afternoon. The extensive analytics provided empower users to better plan ahead. Does the data show you are more productive in the morning? You may choose to schedule time for your most important tasks before lunch to take advance of this boost in productivity. Does the data show you are spending 10% of your time on social media sites? Maybe it’s time to block those sites to ease the temptation.
Cons: The full version of the app is quite pricey, but the average person can get all the data they need from the free version. One quirk that caught my attention was the occasional mislabeling of sites. As a part of my job, I frequent the FedEx site often. RescueTime labeled this site as “online shopping”.
To Find Your Moment of Zen
Pros: Convenient and Timely. When you can’t disconnect entirely, Calm.com gives you a mini vacation at your desk. No need to scroll through your social media feed or get sucked into a tweeting war during your next break – instead Calm.com gives you an instant micro-retreat – including pretty pictures, mindfulness meditation, and even some whale sounds if you so choose.
Cons: With it being a website, you are still connected, so distraction might still reel you in. You do need to purchase an updated package to experience all that Calm.com offers, but the free sign up offers plenty for a tranquil break time.
Technology isn’t the problem – it’s our use of technology that creates the mindset of consumption and overwhelm. Test out these apps, see what works for you. If your creativity increases and your stress feels less heavy, then they work!
~ Stacy Cross
Learning & Content Coordinator