To Detox or Not  – Digital Crossroads between Productivity and Distractions


By Jesse Onomiwo

Can we get real?

It is an indubitable fact that digital devices have provided the utmost ease to our lives. I sometimes snap back to the reality of literally having my own assistant in my hands and how I do not need to cram schedules or refer to handwritten notes or diaries on important tasks I need to attend to sometime later. The speed at which we get the information we need with just some form of internet connectivity is something we now take for granted because it just seems normal now. Whereas in the past, we might have to pore through massive library shelves to get relevant information.

A whole lot of positive things have been birthed by the wonder of our devices to say the least. I am aware of a professional African athlete, Julius Yego who specializes in the Javelin and had no personal coach but made it to the Olympics just by watching Youtube videos on the sport. I repeat, there is no doubt what revolutionary impact digital mobility has brought to us.

Now, in the midst of these noble impacts lies the contention for our personal and professional productivity.

This battle is indeed real. One of the greatest distractions comes from the fact that we are now connected with a lot more people, albeit virtually, who at one point or the other may demand our attention. The more this demand exists, the more we break out of our cycles of productive work.

Some of us have even gotten deeper in the web with wearables that prompt us for one thing or the other at regular intervals.

There is nothing like focused attention to chunks of productive activities. Now that information available to be consumed has multiplied over the years due to ever increasing computing power, we are caught between the crossroads of keeping up with these new developments, social trends and important news, while still maintaining the sanity of dedicated work ethic.

Typical scenarios of device addiction and how they break our cycles of productivity.

We are always catching up!

Of Facebook, Whatsapp, Telegram chat groups and small talk captains:

Notifications! Notifications!! Notifications!!!

Every damn minute and you are caught dragging down the notification bar on your mobile. It’s a new message that has dropped on a Whatsapp, Telegram or Facebook group which you innocently joined to get key information around the purpose for which it was created. Only for you to open it up and discover it is some member who shares a GIF, an unconnected joke, flimsy statement, unsolicited greeting, giggles, name it, which doesn’t serve the core of the group’s purpose. Meanwhile, you accommodated the distraction to see that you don’t miss on important group updates. I have personally found this so annoying that I immediately have to mute the group’s notifications for another 8 hours or 2 days when I know I would need to check updates that would personally affect me. Even at that, I now have to swim through the river of congratulatory messages, small talks, jabs, well wishes, empathies and sympathies. Funny enough, you find some very visible members who sort of distort the sanity of groups and you begin to wonder if they have something serious to do with their time.

Of briskly changing Twitter trends and convoluted threads

This is one I have battled with. One of the quickest ways to be in the know with what is in the news apart from TV in my country is the Twitter trends list. I have personally deleted the Twitter app from my phone and if pressing, I access it through a browser. Reason is that the trends change so fast and I am confused how I can keep up. The worst part of it is that once you get on one of the trends, you find an interesting angle and discover it has a lot of other interesting insights and you just get caught up and keep following. The more challenging part is that if you don’t follow that trend, in the next hour, it might have gone. So, instead of keeping up with the craze, I’d rather not start in the first place.

Of other Instagram users’ activities and their notifications

One of the things I do when I set up a new Instagram account as often as I have to, is turn off the so many notifications that don’t necessarily affect me or those that make up the vanity metrics that give us adrenaline. I have gone beyond getting excited by likes, milestone counts on my video views and such like. I only turn on notifications for critical activities like comments and direct message requests

Here is how to take time away from our devices

Can we just take a break?

While I am a strong proponent of keeping up with trends as it affects your space whatsoever, I am also a firm believer of prioritizing activities. I would want to apply one of the thought processes Tim Ferris’s 4 Hour Work Week has imbued in me.

That simple solution is having dedicated time to use your devices. Especially when it comes to reading notifications, responding to messages, depending on how critical these things are to you, you can decide on the intervals with which you’ll check up your device for critical catch-ups.

My recommendation could be from once every two hours to once in six hours, as it fits your dependence on it. This way, you can go a long stretch focusing on important activities that might have more immediate and larger impact on your productivity.

Here are my other handy recommendations on digital detox:

Reduce the number of online social groups that you are part of.

Do a candid audit to weed out the groups that have not provided you value or that you have not been relevant in since you joined. This way, you will reduce what you have to keep up with.

Control your notifications before they control your life.

I agree it can really be hectic going to your notification settings everytime you join a new group, however it will save you much stress later on. Turn off notifications that are not necessary or those you won’t be able to attend to. For instance, approving other members’ requests of joining and the likes. If you also are subscribed to useful newsletters and groups, reduce the frequency of updates from daily to weekly as the case may be.

Update your status

If you won’t be available for some period, change your status to ‘busy’ and let people know you mean by making it difficult to get to you in a responsive manner at such times. Use this on platforms that allow such. In other cases, use autoresponders that leave them a message that you’ll get back to them as soon as you can.

How do you get around this (sometimes necessary) addiction to devices? I would love to get your views, and I believe other readers would love to learn from your approach as well.

Jesse Onomiwo

Guest post by Jesse Onomiwo – Co-founder @MyAutosparkle : Africa’s Leading Waterless Luxury Car Detailing Group | Digital & Social Media Marketing Denizen | Previously at Insight Publicis

Originally submitted and posted on Medium. Republished with permission via submission.

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About Jeannie Chan

Jeannie Chan founded Curious. She is a brand strategist who takes on business problems big or small. She inspires organizations to raise the questions no one dared to ask or thought to ask. She has ignited new thinking and delivered growth to Fortune 500 companies, startups, and nonprofits. Jeannie loves espressos, and lives in New York City with her two cats and her beloved. Learn more about Jeannie at
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