7 Lessons an Online Business Owner learnt about Digital Wellness in 10-Weeks
Want to know the most frustrating yet most liberating concept in digital wellness as an online business owner? Well, I don’t either, but I did come up with seven of them. Here, I share seven lessons learnt over the last 10-weeks learning from the world’s best digital wellness experts.
These revelations all come as I am about to complete my Digital Wellness Certificate and these questions all started with the desire to understand how technology influences our behaviour online and IRL (In Real Life).
I joined the Digital Wellness Certificate Program to learn how our increased technology usage impacts our daily interactions, communication, and personal and professional lives. Nina Hersher, CEO and founder of the Digital Wellness Institute, says that while wellness is not a new concept, we must update our tool belts and dive into what wellness can look like and look like when the norms of communication have changed.
How do we thrive and how do we evolve with our rapidly changing digital age? How do you even start to explore this if your bread and butter comes from working online?
I am an online business owner and a digital marketer, so the online space is where I spend most of my time for a living. Am I part of the online noise and part of ‘The Social Dilemma?’ It is a paradox that I am still trying to reconcile.
I was a firm believer that more tech meant more: efficiencies, productivity, free time and greater happiness. Sadly, this is not the case.
So why are we not happier with all this tech?
Why are online business owners so burnt out?
Why do my peers and I experience higher anxiety and tech overuse?
Below I share seven lessons learnt over the last 10-weeks learning from the world’s best digital wellness experts.
1.Don’t be Afraid to Face Your Tech Vices
Hello, I am Chido, and I suffer from Digital Distress, the emotional or physical angst caused by technology’s overuse. I know I am not alone and that many suffer from this. Ever since COVID began, maybe you can relate with the growing phenomenon of doom scrolling, endlessly scrolling down news apps or social media like Twitter and reading bad news first thing in the morning or late at night. Or maybe you have the ‘GOT’ Syndrome like my brother. It is a term coined by author and Digital Wellness Co-founder, Amy Blankson describing the feeling that we have got to keep things, even if we haven’t touched them in weeks, months, years — or even decades.
I have had to come face to face with my tech vices, and it has been jarring but therapeutic. Having an online business means, well…being online, but how much online can I be for my business and leisure, until it all becomes digital overuse, misuse or addiction? It is challenging to know where to place our attention and energy online, especially if it is intentional or done mindfully.
Learning how these harmful behaviours have impacted my life and have helped me make sense of how I and my anxiety are close bedfellows. If you suffer from any anxiety caused by social media or your tech devices, you are not alone, and yes, there are ways to address these.
2.Not All Screen Time is Created Equal
People can use screen time for leisure or for work. However, the length of screen time and the type of screen time are very different. That is why Digital well-being, the movement on controlling our screen time, is not enough to gauge our digital wellness, even though it is the first step to understanding where you are spending most of your time on your devices.
Digital wellness is the optimal state of health and well-being each individual can achieve. Digital Flourishing, the concept coined by Digital Wellness Institute, is the empowering approach to strategies to achieve mindful technology use while avoiding the associated harmful effects.
Adding mindful practices and intention to my tech relationship has been the biggest shift for me when addressing tech devices’ challenges that include shifting norms of connectivity, distractions and digital misuse or overuse. All of which are covered in the program syllabus.
3.Your Eyeballs are the Prize
Access to information was limited, a problem we do not have any more, and the new attention economy makes our eyeballs the prize. Congrats, you are a major investor in the ‘Attention Economy.’ I learnt that the sad thing is that human attention has become the most scarce resource and valuable commodity in this digital era.
As a digital marketer, I understand the concept of getting in front of your audience and getting more eyeballs on your business and brand to have more visibility and success online. My digital marketing strategies include Building an Epic Content Funnel that is a roadmap for my clients to get more followers, fans and funds. This can be done organically through Facebook Live Streams or the pay to play route with Facebook Ads.
From digital marketing to social media to gaming to even Netflix, they all have one goal in mind; they are all engineered to keep us on their platform and keep your attention on our tech devices. The more we use them, the better they get to know us and therefore, the better they are at keeping our attention.
The Digital Wellness Certification encourages us to have a new mission and to bring intention to our attention. It is truly priceless.
4.Want More Productivity? There is No App For That
People think that there is a silver bullet to being more productive. When I say people, I am talking about me and maybe the fact that there has been a 300% increase in search of ‘how to focus at work’ (Business News Daily, 2020). I, too, believed the fallacy that I could multi-task or task switch, which is the ability to shift attention between one task and another unconsciously. I was, sadly, mistaken.
When we are distracted with emails, fixing our Instagram bios, tweaking our websites and #doingallthethings that keep us busy working ON our business rather than IN our business can drain most of our day. We remain stuck working on shallow work; these are not high-value tasks and often performed while distracted checking Instagram stories, Twitter or Slack, instead of the 20% of work that can grow or scale our online business with deep work that is uninterrupted, highly focused and productive work.
Our productivity is based on how focused we can truly be at the task at hand, and the dictations from our tech devices are the culprit. It can take from seven seconds to 23 minutes to return to the focus. So we are developing muscle memory of mistakes from our distraction, and it can negatively affect our productivity, and that endless to-do list never really gets done.
Your lack of productivity isn’t your issue… your ability to REFOCUS is.
So turn off those notifications and get your brain to a place where it is comfortable resisting distractions. This will help us get to a place to be a place of being productive in our work.
5.Success Favours Ones with Boundaries
What do digital boundaries look like since we are ‘hooked’ to our device? Now more than ever, if you are working a 9–5 job, remotely or virtually, there is a feeling of needing to be constantly connected or networked, even when an actual need is absent. This is where mindful strategies in this age of increasing technology.
I was happy to know that I have been creating ‘communication charters’ with my clients and team to outline communication times, tools, and availability. I do this by sending my clients my ‘How I Work’ document that has been a lifesaver in outlining online and offline availability and boundaries. Over the last 4-years, my clients have liked and need permission not to send late-night emails and on weekends.
Success favours boundaries for us to maximize our deep work and step away from our devices to enjoy our work.- Tweet That
I am well aware that owning my own business means I am lucky to do this with my clients. Many may not have this luxury with their employer, when it is needed more now than ever with the rise of remote work. A survey found that 82% of employees would like to see their organization’s digital work experience (Nextthink, 2020). I believe it starts with having employees be able to apply boundaries at work. For my final project, I will be exploring what online business owners need to do to achieve wellness in this rapidly changing digital landscape.
6.Learn the Art of Solitude Deprivation
As an enneagram 8, I am the challenger. As you can tell by my enneagram type, I love to be challenged, and I avoid being like a plague like the overachiever that I am. I am now fully unpacking this concept that I have been carrying on my back for years. I now believe that is not advisable, but absolutely necessary that we ALL learn the art of ‘Solitude Derivation’ and learn how to be bored.
Yes…get yourself in a state of boredom that Instagram, Netflix, gaming, or any teaching device cannot fix. As online business owners, we wear our busy badge with pride, a little too much pride, and when it is time to unplug, we are still plugged into our tech after work hours. Guilty!
That is where solitude deprivation has come to my aid; it is the state in which you spend close to zero time alone with your thoughts and free from input from other minds. I am learning to avoid work and my tech devices as a way to focus my mind.
The results have been life-changing. I am experiencing better night sleep, less anxiety in the morning, mindfully picking my phone and intentionally checking social media and consciously looking for more creative things to do on weekends that do not include my tech devices.
Crazy, right…? That we have lost the art of being along with our thoughts. I am taking time for play, messing around and getting lost. Who knows where it is going to lead you.
7.Digital Wellness goes in Phases…Be Open to Explore All
Microsoft, CEO Satya Nadella, stated, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” This speaks to the rate of which we have expedited our technology needs and use since COVID. For me, this showed up in feeling the need to be always connected or networked, even when an actual need is absent. A feeling that I never knew existed and got accelerated due to the pandemic.
I began my journey with this in mind. I got to dive deep into what flourishing in an age of technology looks like from productivity, mental, health communication, relationship and more ( See full curriculum HERE). The mantra of the Digital Wellness Certificate program is knowledge, embodiment and empowerment.
I applied the Digital Wellness phases looked like this as an online business owner:
Knowledge; Understand the impact of mainstream technologies on mindfulness in society and in my online business
Embodiment; Model the prevention of and recovery from digital burnout and sensory overload and
Empowerment; Coach for effective digital boundaries and intentional technology practices
No matter your reasons for exploring digital wellness, it all starts with understanding your intention and then applying these to your wellness toolbelt. Digital Wellness Certificate instructor, Chris Flack, the Cofounder of Unplugged, empowers us to remember that we are in control.
We can change the digital world, or the digital world can shape us. Words to live by in this advancing digital era - Chris Flack
In summary, here are my takeaways:
#1. Don’t be Afraid to Face Your Tech Vices is why I will always reflect and challenge the role that tech plays in my life.
#2. Not All Screen Time is Created Equal is why I know that not all tech is bad, and there is a difference between anti-tech vs health tech. We must apply mindful strategies to how we use our devices.
#3. Your Eyeballs are the Prize is why I know I have a choice. I can shape the digital world or the digital world that can shape me.
#4.Want More Productivity? There is No App For That is why applying it all starts with placing intention into my attention.
#5.Success Favours Ones with Boundaries is why I now understand that my lack of productivity is not the problem. The answer lies in limiting my distractions and the power of refocusing.
#6. Learn the Art of Solitude Deprivation is why I welcome boredom in my life. I do not need to be learning, growing or doing. We must be alone with our thoughts, or technology will make them for us.
#7. Digital Wellness goes in Phases… Know yours is why I am documenting my digital wellness journey and will be working with others to do the same. I am passionate about going through all stages of knowledge, embodiment and empowerment.
Each of the ten pillars of the Digital Flourishing wheel wants us to approach our technology use in a healthy teach vs anti-tech way. This has intrinsically changed how I will apply digital wellness into my life and business and the way I will work with my clients and my students going forward. We have the power to model behaviour for others and embody being a change agent.
Which one speaks to you and your business where it is right now?
Learn more about Digital Wellness Institute’s Fall 2020 Cohort