Upgrade your Digital Habits in an Always-on World

EY Ireland with UnPlug 4th April 2023

Dear All,

Thank you again for attending UnPlug's keynote at EY Ireland on 4th April. Below are follow up links on the background research and tools. A recording of the talk is at the bottom of the notes.  Thanks again to Kathy Joyce for her assistance in setting up the keynote.  

If you have further questions or are interested in a specific area my contact details are below.

Kind Regards,

Chris Flack

Chris Flack
Co-founder, UnPlug
E: chris@unplughq.com
T: +353 1 485 2923
L: https://ie.linkedin.com/in/chris-flack


Historically Digital Wellbeing has been a duty of care.  However, with the increase in digital demands in the last few years along with Right to Disconnect legislation, it is becoming a more strategic component.  When also considering work design, it introduces a real opportunity to help increase staff performance, reduce staff turnover, and improve their wellbeing.


Research has shown that overall working hours have gone up by 20% since March 2020 with average output reducing by 18%[1].  A key driver for this is increased task switching (multi-tasking), constant task switching is exhausting, hence why we feel like we’ve got a lot done when we haven’t necessarily worked effectively.  For example according to research[2];

  • On average we receive 100 emails / day
  • 70% of which we check within 6 seconds
  • It takes a minimum of 70 seconds to get back to the task in hand


That means we spend a minimum of 82 minutes / day refocussing after checking emails.  20% of our working time, just ref-focussing (not writing) emails.

Use the tools built into your phone to get an understanding of how you are using your devices. And remember not all tech is equal, think it as you would a food diet.  What are your high sugar content apps you want to use less?

If you are an Android user, Google has a good set of resource on Digital Wellbeing; https://wellbeing.google/.   It has lots of advice and practical tips for configuring Android devices so they’re most helpful to you.  Apple also has a similar resource for those of you using iPhone / iPad; https://support.apple.com/en-ie/HT208982.


Once we have an understanding of where we need to make changes we then need to use behavioural nudges (friction as described via BJ Fogg’s model[3]).

The need for breaks – Microsoft research showing brain scans with breaks / without –  https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/worklab/work-trend-index/brain-research
Brain oscillations – To check your chronobiology goto https://chronotype-self-test.info/

iPhone effect study – Multiple studies showing the mere presence of a digital device in our line of sight reduces our focus and empathy[4].  Once you have an understanding of where this is impacting you, look to physically change your setup.   For example, if you recognise that you have devices in your bedroom look to change the environment yourself with an alarm clock you really like as it’s a big change.  We recommend voice assists (non-screen), sunrise alarm clocks (any brand) or a digital watch with a vibrating alarm (ideally with no apps/notifications from your phone).

To encourage the habit of focus, take time away from your devices. To assist with this use specific apps to prevent you picking up your smartphone – We recommended using tools built into your devices iPhone /Android (see below).

Digital Friction App limiters;

Apple: Settings > Screen Time menu, tap App Limits > Add Limit.
Android: Settings > Digital Wellbeing & parental controls >Tap the chart > Choose app to limit and set how much time



1. Books;
Johann Hari – Stolen Focus
Gloria Mark – Attention Span
Carl D Marci - Rewired; Protecting Your Brain In The Digital Age
2. Influencers;
Worth following are Cal Newport, Nir Eyal, Sherry Turkle (MIT), Tyler Shores (Cambridge), The Digital Wellness Institute, Amy Blankson and UnPlug.


"We ran a two-day programme with UnPlug to empower staff to upgrade their digital resilience in a hybrid world. Feedback from the team was very positive with key changes being an improvement in their ability to focus and connect with colleagues at work.”
Michael Sylver, Director Programme Management and Support Services Division, United Nations 


Masterclasses (small groups - design thinking, solution oriented) on;

(i) Digital Wellbeing - Individual digital habits with an introduction to frameworks that will sustain them through digital culture.
(ii) Digital Culture – Working with organisational culture / work design to develop communication charters and digital working frameworks to encourage norms and values that will support new Digital Wellbeing habits.


Individual Digital Wellbeing coaching.

Please email hello@unplughq.com for more details.


UnPlug are committed to continually improving our programmes and your suggestions will be taken into account for future training needs. Your feedback is valuable and is much appreciated. To complete our quick feedback survey either click on the following QR code or link;