The need to pause and reflect in a post-fact world

Between bad news and endless scrolling, Kemi Oduniyi shares how she is staying inspired and creative

Kemi Oduniyi

Talent Development Partner Wavemaker UK


During a moment of silent reflection, I tried to consider a time it was ever this loud. It’s a fact that has been proliferating since the ‘doomsday’ news cycle of the pandemic, and today, with the rising worry of the cost of living crisis flooding our media outlets, it is no wonder that uncertainty has become the new normal. Lately, I have been exhibiting ferret levels of focus, but I’m attuned enough to know it’s unsustainable. 

To rebalance my productivity levels, I started to consider the root cause of my newfound levels of distraction. And unsurprisingly, all thoughts led to the pandemic aftermath. Prior to this, I checked the news infrequently and paid full attention to evidence-based, objective facts. Now, my news app governs my free time and can easily set the tone for my day.  

Creative expression can boost productivity by allowing you to step out of your thinking cycle.

Kemi Oduniyi, Talent Development Partner, Wavemaker UK

In an effort to avoid complete burnout and digital withdrawal, I began to consider ways to hit pause.

‘Get a little fluffy’ and carve out time to create

Creativity is not just for the creative. Creative expression can boost productivity by allowing you to step out of your thinking cycle. Tapping into the imagination takes you out of what feels like the infinite loop of information and into a place of total presence in the here and now. I consider myself a creative person, so I know firsthand how refreshing freeing the mind can be. However, suppose your first instinct when reading this is 'fluff'. In that case, I challenge you to consider getting a little fluffy as a means to step out of the continuous cycle of overload. 

Suppose arts and crafts don't feel like your thing. There are other ways to create. So whether it's writing, travelling, cooking or tagging along to a class with your friend. The options are endless. The worst thing that could happen is that you tried something new and figured out it wasn't for you. The best thing is that you have a new hobby or have felt the thrill of exploring. Either way, both result in an opportunity to step out into a unique experience, which is a mindful act. 

A ‘Digital Detox’ can be very necessary

Those who have been alive long enough to know when social media wasn't at the centre of our universe may recall a sense of nostalgic peace. While the new wave of notifications is advantageous in many ways. It can induce alertness that enhances our reactivity and a state that is not always conducive to optimum levels of focus.

I simply cannot buy into the notion that mindful scrolling exists. Social media platforms, for example, are designed to take you out of your reality and into exploring the well-presented, idealistic, often false realities of others. Applying additional undue pressure to our already bustling lives.  

How can we introduce a digital detox?

1.    Phone-free zones - This may trigger immediate separation anxiety. Still, it's a concept worth considering, even if it's just at dinner, taking a long walk or while in the gym. 

2.    Digital Detox Days - I don't know about you, but Tuesdays rank low on the favourite day list, so why not add a challenge? Regularly going the day without social media or media full stop could help to relieve any dependency.  

3.    Complete Cold Turkey - Digital adrenaline seekers, this one is for you. Temporary measures are adequate but less renewing than a flat-out ban. However, if you do choose this nuclear option, the timeframe should be based on what feels most comfortable. The period is sure to have you peeking at phones during commutes, but I assure you there will be moments when you will be grateful you gave it a go. 

When you undergo a digital detox, something powerful happens. Over time you no longer crave to be the first to know opinions positioned as fact. It's a process but undoubtedly a rewarding one. 

Take stock of your achievements with ‘The Goal Funnel’

Goal funnelling is a term I use to define the process of reducing BIG ambitions into little impactful wins. If greater levels of peace are a goal, redefining milestones and achievements is imperative. The goal funnel is not intended to make you any less ambitious, particularly if that's your nature. Instead, it is a method to take stock of achievements sooner rather than later.

To create your Goal Funnel, you'll need two things to get started. First, the BIG Goal. This will sit at the top of the Funnel, and then you'll need to determine what it will take to get there by looking at the ultimate goal and repeating the phrase 'but First'. This phrase is the key to the Goal Funnel, allowing you to focus on the 'how' while simultaneously permitting you to focus on the step and not be derailed by the whole staircase. 

For example, the BIG Goal would be your dream promotion, ‘but first’ you must join a networking group to build connections, ‘but first’ you’d have to find a mentor to give you the confidence and support to join the network, ‘but first’ you’d need to dedicate two hours a week to learning. And so on. 

In other words, it’s how you take any goal and break it down into manageable, actionable steps. Following a clear route to achievement feels far less daunting, and the more manageable the milestone is, the more likely you will reduce the anxiety associated with getting closer to your desired outcome. While feeling more motivated by your progress throughout the process. 

Be an ‘Angel’ for the day

We've all had to come to terms with a new level of essential spending. I am fortunate not to have to choose between food and heating. However, members of my community will have to make that unthinkable decision, particularly as we head into the colder months. When thinking about the impact the surcharge of stories is having on you, consider that immersing yourself in an environment where there are great needs does something to your contentment. 

I work for an agency that encourages us to take volunteer days, more locally known as Angel Days. My most recent Angel Day was spent with South London Cares, teaching the elderly how to use their smartphones to connect more frequently with their loved ones. I don't do as many as I'd like, but I always have fond memories of the mutually beneficial impact volunteering has. 

Although I don't have the statistics to support it, I am confident that the need is more significant than ever and worth investigating if you'd like to make a difference in a small but mighty way.  

Have I completely shifted my mindset in this uncertain era? No. But every time I exercise one of these peace-inducing acts, I feel a sense of grounding that takes me out of my reactive state and closer to a balance I can be content with.

Guest Author

Kemi Oduniyi

Talent Development Partner Wavemaker UK


Kemi Oduniyi is Talent Development Partner at Wavemaker UK. She is an experienced HR professional with a Learning and Development specialism.

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