by Daniel Stamp

Mismanaged use of email, smart phones and a battery of new wireless organizers in the workplace and at home can cause a “Digital Malaise”. This is a feeling of being powerless and unable to keep pace, leading to skyrocketing stress levels and decreased productivity. By the time we learn to use the latest software program or tech device we feel pressured to upgrade to the newest version.

Today’s technology offers fantastic potential but many people find themselves controlled by it. If you aren’t careful technology can actually increase your workload rather than increase your productivity. It can cause you to forget the skills that help you cope, manage and lead – literally causing a skills amnesia.

Here are the five symptoms of Digital Depression:

Stressed by accessibility: Being constantly available by the latest wireless device, means being constantly interrupted. Each call or message you respond to is diverting your attention from your key priorities. The inability to “unplug” contributes to increased stress.

Insecurity due to Digital Darwinism: An anxious feeling based on the belief that a technological evolutionary process is taking place and only those who master every program, every upgrade and every gadget will survive.

Continuous partial attention: An inability to concentrate on one task until completion – brought on by a 24/7 world with shorter deadlines and a faster pace. Urgent matters take precedence over important matters and time isn’t taken to reflect on decisions or “sleep on it”. Personal productivity declines as a result.

Victim of Device Creep: The pressure to acquire the newest wireless all in one cell phone-digital assistant-remote control device-to augment existing collection of gadgets and toys, regardless of whether it enhances productivity.

Cognitive Interruptus: A state of ‘permanent interruption’. Whether it’s the phone your iPad, Playbook or email alarm, every interruption deters you from your daily plan, increases your workload and sense of anxiety.

Here are several cures:

  • Schedule time to unplug yourself from the job, to unwind and maintain a healthy balance in your life.

  • Invest in new skills training just as you invest in new hardware and software.

  • Always consider the cost/benefit and return on investment before purchasing new technology. You should be able to specifically define how the technology or device will make you more effective at your job.

  • Identify your priorities every day. Use these as the basis of your daily plan and stick to it
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