I know Roomba is supposed to be a time-saving device, but for me, it never fails. I pass the thing, remember I should use it more often, pop it on, and it goes for maybe 10 seconds before stopping and saying in that pleasantly robotic female voice: “Empty the Bin.” Followed by what I presume is the ‘chung chung’ from Law and Order in the robot world.
I realized I am Roomba, Roomba is me. No sooner do we learn about a new technology than the world is off and running and if you are friends and colleagues with smart and innovative people, you are going to find yourself running too. Sometimes while breathlessly panting…”But wh-where are we going?” Social media users globally spent an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes per day on social platforms in 2021, and I bet you’re one of ‘em.
I need to empty my bin before I find myself in a bin of a different variety.
In the world of information work, we’re bombarded with data, insights, and updates at an unprecedented rate.
- In 2021, the total volume of global internet traffic reached an estimated 330 exabytes per month, showcasing the immense amount of data being transmitted online.
- The average daily time spent using digital media by adults in the United States reached approximately 7 hours and 50 minutes in 2021! That’s as much time as a work day.
🧠 Processing Overload
Back in the day, when we were learning critical thinking, we dealt with a scintilla of the information we do now. Our brains haven’t shrunk but the info we’re required to process, well that has grown by leaps and bounds.
- In 2022, it was estimated that humans generate approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That’s equivalent to 2.5 billion gigabytes or 2,500 petabytes! (Source: IBM)
- According to a report by Ericsson, the average monthly mobile data traffic per smartphone user in North America increased from 0.4 gigabytes in 2012 to around 10.3 gigabytes in 2021. That’s a 25-fold increase in just a decade!
- A study by the American Psychological Association found that information overload costs the U.S. economy over $900 billion annually in decreased productivity and innovation.
🧘♀️ Taking Time to Empty the Bin
A study by the American Psychological Association found that information overload costs the U.S. economy over $900 billion annually in decreased productivity and innovation. Just like the Roomba needs regular bin emptying to function optimally, we, as info workers, need to clear our mental space. It’s essential for maintaining focus, creativity, and mental well-being. How do we DO that though, when it feels like even to rest for a day or a week will put us laps behind where everyone else is? At work, politically, word issues, social trends. No matter what world you find yourself in, the amount of sheer velocity makes me wanna live in a hut in the forest sometimes (not really, I am not a camper person.)
- Google processes approximately 5.6 billion searches per day.
- As of October 2023, there were 5.3 billion internet users worldwide, which amounted to 65.7 percent of the global population. Of this total, 4.95 billion, or 61.4 percent of the world’s population, were social media users.
🌿 Meditation & Home (Mental?) Maintenance
Meditation is like the “empty bin” button for our minds. It helps us pause, reflect, and create mental space amidst the noise. It’s a way to hit the reset button. One I never do. For me meditation is listening to audiobooks while I half-heartedly load the dishwasher. Cleaning can be therapeutic. It’s not just about tidying up our physical space; it’s a metaphor for decluttering our thoughts. The act of cleaning can be a form of mindfulness, a way to “empty the bin” of mental debris. But that right there, that is the issue. I am still ‘being productive’ and ‘getting things done’. What happened to doing f*ck-all? Is my cleaning as meditation sorta wrong?
Benefits of Deep Cleaning:
Turns out, NOPE. Giving your space a thorough cleaning not only declutters it and reduces distractions, but it can also count as physical activity for improved health. Plus, deep cleaning helps reduce indoor allergens, making the air quality better. And let’s not forget the sense of accomplishment and well-being that comes from having a clean environment. It can even be a cathartic experience, helping you let go of old possessions and attachments.
🎨 Hobbies as Mindful Distractions
Engaging in hobbies is akin to the Roomba finding its charging station. It’s a joyful break from the constant buzz of information. Whether it’s painting, playing music, or gardening, hobbies help recharge our minds. But in so many cases, folks are encouraged to “sell your artwork” “make those tea cozies and put them on Etsy” or “you should sing in a band.” Do we have to make money off something that eases stress and pulls us OUT of the rat race? I think it just ropes hobbies into the world of work (which I love, but work is NOT everything.)
💡 Truly Emptying the Bin
In our info-rich world, we must heed the Roomba’s wisdom and make time to “empty the bin.” For us at RBM, we have Mental Health Mondays, where we’re ALLLLLLLLL off the clock. Clients know it, we know it, it’s in our signatures. For many on my team, it’s hard to recharge if they’re the only ones missing out. And I don’t think that’s just a Brancher thing, either. Meditation, therapeutic cleaning, hobbies, or any activity that brings mental clarity can help us process information effectively and maintain our well-being. But going on true vacation or even taking a day off to recalibrate is so healing when things are moving so dang fast. In fact, taking breaks from work can boost creativity and rejuvenate motivation.
So IDK about y’all but I’m gonna take a cue from our robotic friend and ensure my mental bins gets well and truly emptied this Thanksgiving weekend. Just you wait. 🤖🌟