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  • Foto van schrijverFrans van de Ven

Digital well-being: why deconnecting is crucial

The rippling stream of information has become a churning, relentless whitewater river. 24/7, both at and away from work, we are bombarded on all sides with messages and news. This constant abundance of information can have devastating effects on our mental, emotional and physical well-being. Investing in "digital well-being" is not a luxury but a necessity. Digital wellness can be learned and ensures that you yourself, as well as your organization, thrive.

The recent right in Belgium for employees to deconnect should ensure that they are disturbed as little as possible in their private time by work-related messages and disruptors. This is a great initiative and an important signal. The measures however are sometimes a bit utopian. For example, turning off e-mail servers on weekends often only leads to a deluge of e-mails on Monday morning. Instead of shielding employees from the flow of information, it makes more sense to teach them to navigate this bustling river themselves. It's easier than you think, and that way everyone retains the flexibility to steer their own course.

An approach that pays off, which is why being able to deconnect at work is also important. Most work requires focus and concentration. Concentrating requires deconnecting. On top of that, our work is becoming increasingly complex, which requires creative and innovative solutions. The best ideas to improve productivity, quality or speed come when you are disconnected and not constantly switching from one interruption to another. That "switch time," by the way, costs us and our organization a huge amount of time. You easily spend 1-2 hours of time a day constantly changing your focus. In short, learning to deconnect is a win-win for employee and organization.

We can blame technology for constant connection and distraction, but honesty compels us to look at our use of that technology and our associated beliefs. The same technology that burdens us with calls, emails and other messages offers tremendous opportunities to organize the flow of information optimally and tailored to our needs and wants. Once we overcome our "Fear Of Missing Out" and other hindering beliefs, we can lead the technology instead of the technology leading us. Thus, we channel for ourselves what information does or does not reach us, where and when, and if, how, where and when we respond. Consciously and deliberately. That, too, is personal leadership.

Would you like to receive more information about how you yourself and/or your employees can work on their digital well-being, send me an email at

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