New ‘Survey of Time’ reveals widespread desire to reset relationship
with tech by taking back our time
Data from a new consumer survey released today reveals the heavy toll of our “always on” culture. The 2023 Survey of Time study was conducted by tech startup Sixty AI and surveyed more than 1,000 consumers about their attitudes and usage behaviors around digital communications and time management. The survey found widespread dissatisfaction with the constant demands of devices and digital tools that were meant to make work and life easier. More than 85% of survey respondents reported technology has the opposite effect on their lives – overwhelming them, interrupting their focus and creating meeting and email overload.
After years of researching the impact of digital communications on consumers and building products to help alleviate the burden, the Sixty AI team commissioned this study to validate the pervasive feeling of overwhelm that today’s consumers feel as a result of an overconnected world. Timed with the release of this study, Sixty AI launched the public beta of its platform, which is designed to cut through the digital clutter and restore focus and flow in our lives. In addition to the product, the company is sponsoring Take Back Your Time (#tbyt), a movement to reset our relationship to technology and time by prioritizing human connection over constant communication.
Key research findings reveal:
- There’s no such thing as uninterrupted work. A staggering 87% of people are interrupted frequently throughout their work day, most often by notifications.
- Always at work. Work communications extend beyond the hours of work, with respondents feeling a need to be constantly responsive to email and messaging. More than half (58%) of respondents strongly believe that remote work and constant connectivity have detrimentally blurred work/life boundaries.
- Drowning in a sea of email. Even though respondents were constantly managing their communications, more than a quarter (26.87%) had 1,000+ unread emails in their inbox. Of these respondents, more than half (51.21%) had 5,000+ unread emails.
- The black hole of device time. 75% of respondents spend more than 4 hours each day on devices for non-work related activities and more than one-third of respondents say they spend more than 5 hours on their devices each day outside of work.
- People are desperate to reset their relationship with technology. Respondents agreed that time is valuable and expressed an interest in spending more time connecting with friends and loved ones, but only 7% feel they are able to be strategic with their own time. 82% of survey respondents are interested in a digital detox.
- The generations that grew up with technology are most overwhelmed by it. Of survey respondents, students reported the highest levels of technological overwhelm, with 72% saying they wished they could reduce their dependence and over 90% desiring a digital detox.
- Even people with high demands on their time waste it on technology. 75% of respondents spend more than 4 hours a day on devices outside of work time. Even working parents reported an average of 3 hours of device time a day.
Overall, the Survey of Time revealed a substantial disconnect between how people want to spend their time and how they are actually spending it.
“While technology was meant to make our lives more efficient, it has led to an overconnected crisis that comes at the expense of our mental health, our relationships and our ability to spend our time meaningfully,” said Mat Ellis, Founder and CEO of Sixty AI. “The modern world requires us to manage these technologies to keep up with our work and with each other. So we need to develop new tools that actually help us do that without overwhelming us. We see AI as one potential solution in helping us take back our time from machines and get back to focused work and human connection.”
Sixty AI’s platform leverages AI and machine learning to eliminate the digital noise, false urgency and constant interruption of digital communications, while making sure the important details are still brought to your attention. This prioritization of flow over frequency allows people to build a world that’s more meaningful, manageable and closely connected.
“We know this kind of tool can help people—it’s already helped our team feel more focused and in control of our time and communications. But we also know that one tool is not enough,” Ellis said. “That’s why we’ve started the #tbyt movement, to bring more attention to this problem, to validate the overwhelm we’re all feeling with actual data, and to provide additional resources and support to people looking to reset their relationship to technology and time.”
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