Being Mindful in a Digital World

I attended my second BarcampNFP on 20 March on a Volunteer Blogger ticket. For those of you who don’t know, BarcampNFP brings together people from the charity sector with people from Digital and Tech in sectors such as IT, Government, Arts and Culture for one day in an ‘unconference’ format. The idea is that we all collaborate and learn from each other through informal presentations and hands-on workshops.

As I had a blogger ticket I live tweeted all my sessions and Storified the day, which you can read here. There were some really excellent sessions and my favourites included ‘The future of charities’, which was facilitated by Anne McCrossan and Matt Collins, ‘The use of digital in storytelling’ by Jude Habib and ‘How bloggers can say the things we can’t’ by Diabetes UK’s Amy Burton.

The session that resonated with me the most was ‘How to avoid burnout’. It was a really cathartic session where, it seems, in this digital age most of us find it near impossible to switch off. The 9 to 5 job just doesn’t exist in social media and digital and we had a good discussion about how we are our own worst enemies – checking our organisational social media accounts after hours and over weekends. Some top tips to avoid burnout, that we discussed, were to stop checking emails and social media just before going to bed, to go for a walk (particularly if you don’t take a full lunch break) to clear your head, rest your eyes and get some fresh air and to take up a non-digital hobby (think sewing lessons, knitting club, learning a language, art classes etc).

As a result of this session, I vowed to take a step back from my personal Twitter account and removed my account from my iPhone that night. You know that statistic that people check their phone on average 110 times a day? Well, that was me. Heard the new buzzword FOMO (fear of missing out)? Well, that was me too. I love working in social media and helping my clients with their strategy and implementation but I have finally realised that I don’t personally need to always be tweeting every minute of the day to connect, to engage, to share and to learn.

Since I have removed my personal Twitter from my iPhone, I have been more mindful. I have been able to dedicate more time to non-digital hobbies as well as to volunteer more time to causes I really care about. I go for walks during my lunch break and I am amazed by the things I notice when I’m not tweeting, checking emails or Instagramming. And I feel so much better for it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as tips, on avoiding burnout so please comment below.

13 thoughts on “Being Mindful in a Digital World

  1. Hi Kirsty, Completely agree about having a non digital hobby (Gardening is mine) anything that gets you away from a screen! I hadn’t realised how often I checked my phone/emails until I switch to a “non smart” phone. Brave move with taking the twitter account off of your phone, looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    • You hit the nail on the head Amy as my ‘problem’ started the minute I got an iPhone! My previous phone was rubbish so I never checked it except for missed calls 🙂
      You are so lucky to have a garden – I can imagine that’s a really therapeutic hobby to have

  2. Unless I’m playing a game or watching Netflix, anything I do online at home has to be done on a laptop or desktop; the hassle of moving myself into my home office and waiting for it power up is enough to make me think twice about whether it actually has to be done before I go back to work.

    Since I got two phones – one for work, one for not work – it has made everything so much easier. Work email and client social media accounts are on one phone that is switched off and kept in my bag when I get home, or left at home when I go on holiday.

    That said, the devices themselves aren’t evil. Last Friday, me and the remaining people in the office sat around my computer and watched Macgyver. We played Monument Valley on our mobile devices and ate lots of Haribo. Everyone should play more – not just as a break from work but as a new way of reconnecting to work when you get back to it 🙂

    • That’s a great tip Rochelle – having a work and a personal phone. You are absolutely right – it’s not the devices that are evil (I love my iPhone) it’s was my compulsive behaviour that was the problem.
      Your office is so cool 🙂

  3. Some really interesting points raised and sounds like a great event………………………………………..

    Apologies for the pause but had to check my phone due to suffering from FOMO :0) Burnout is a key issue for discussion and the ‘Always On’ culture that we live in contributes heavily too that. Interesting to see how you get on taking the apps off your phone.

    I like to go for a run (usually 10k) and I do take my phone with me but only for updates on the mile marker using Nike+. The phone also has my music on too. It’s definitely a great way to clear your mind. I only have one phone, email and social media accounts (business and personal merge in to the same space for me).

    Looking forward to hear more and your absence from the social media scene will be noticed Kirsty as, like me, I’m sure you have been referred to as a ‘prolific tweeter’. Great blog though.

    • Thanks Asif. I go to gym too to unwind but I go first thing in the morning. I like to go for a long walk late in the afternoon so clear my head. One of the reasons I removed my personal Twitter for my phone was that on these walks I would check my phone about 10 times, which meant I wasn’t actually clearing my head at all.
      I think getting the balance right is key and I’m working on that at the moment 🙂

  4. I think it depends on why we use Twitter. For me it is a way to connect with people I know or would like to meet but also a way to read and access information asap – I guess for a social media consultant Twitter is a good resource, though I think it is good for other professions too. As for posting, I post in all channels when it is relevant more to my audience than me, really – so my social posting habits will change with the audience. I think the only personal platform is my blog and Instagram. The rest became more of a net of channels for content access, consumption and sometimes creation. But it is good to hear that a small change makes you feel better! I think we all need to be critical of our habits related to any technology – old or new;)

    • Hi Sylwia
      Thanks so much for your comment. For me, it wasn’t so much about using Twitter it was more about how frequently I was checking it. That was pretty constant. By removing my personal Twitter from my iPhone it just took away the temptation to constantly check my phone when I’m out. And just that little change has made a difference. I still love Twitter, and of course it is vital to the work that I do, but I felt that it was becoming a bit all consuming and I needed to just break my habits a bit. For example, all day I would work (and be on social media) and then come the evening and I would constantly check it too. I’m trying to spend that time now doing other things, such as baking, to just give my eyes and mind a break from the computer!

  5. I forgot to say that I see more and more people leaving active posting from events on Twitter and I do miss notes from events I attend. I hope you will post sometimes;)

    • Of course! I do believe there is value in producing notes from events so that others can share in the learning. Don’t worry, my live tweeting days are certainly not over 🙂

  6. Pingback: barcampnfp 2014 | laila takeh thoughts on my everyday

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