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Skills Amnesia Leads to Digital Depression

After sitting in Miami morning traffic, do you ever get to the office motivated and ready to take charge, only to have your day go down the drain by 9:00 am? We open our desktops and are immediately drawn into the vortex of rushing messages, notifications, and phone calls.

Mismanaged use of email, smart phones, texts and tablets in the workplace is causing “Digital Depression” – a feeling of being powerless and unable to keep pace, leading to high stress levels and decreasing productivity. By the time we learn to use the latest software program or tech toy we feel pressured to upgrade to the newest version. (Hello, Apple store!)

Today’s technology offers fantastic potential but many people find themselves controlled by it, and if you aren’t careful, technology can actually increase your workload rather than increase your productivity. Fortunately, this techno-malady is identifiable and self-treatable, with some help. Here are four symptoms of Digital Depression:

Stressed by accessibility Being constantly available by cell phone, or the latest wireless device, means being constantly interrupted. Each call or message you respond to is diverting your attention from your key priorities. Your inability or unwillingness 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. 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.

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 precedent over important matters, and time isn’t taken to reflect on decisions or to “sleep on it”. Personal productivity declines as a result.

Cognitive Interruptus A state of permanent interruption. Whether it’s the smartphone or email alarm, every interruption deflects you from your daily plan, increasing your workload and sense of anxiety.

The root cause of Digital Depression, is skills amnesia – in the rush to keep pace with technology trends, people are forgetting to apply basic essential management skills such as planning, managing their priorities, setting goals, communication and delegating. If you recognize any or all of these symptoms, here are a few guidelines to help you maintain control…

  • Schedule time to unplug yourself from your 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.

Achieving that coveted balance between work and life is possible through self-control, which in turn increases our productivity and reduces our stress. Daily planning is the critical process to taking control of our workload and managing our priorities. Before our digital depression permanently settles in, with some skills training, we can bring the future into the present so that we can do something about it now!

Luis Ortega
the authorLuis Ortega
Luis Ortega is a former, prior-enlisted, U.S. Marine Captain. He enjoyed serving alongside many Marines, airmen, soldiers, sailors, and coastguardsmen for eleven years, worldwide. He owns and operates Security Arms International, a firearms store and school in Palmetto Bay and is available to swap war stories at ceo@saiops.com.