12 smart habits to overcome digital overload
We live our lives in a digital world. So much so, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to switch off and live in the moment. This ‘digitalization’ of life prevents us from doing our jobs right and living our lives to the fullest. Technology has made it possible to do a million activities at once, but now procrastination and distraction are only one click away.
Here are 12 ways to effectively counter digital overload, one small step at a time.
1. Out of sight, out of mind
If your phone is always within arm’s reach, the temptation to check it every five minutes is always there. Overcome this habit by putting your phone in your desk drawer. If it rings you can still hear it, but any notifications that light up your screen and cause momentary distraction can easily be ignored because it’s out of sight and out of mind.
2. Stop trying to multitask
Multitasking is not the holy grail of productivity – numerous studies have proven this. Yet we keep believing if we flicker from one screen to another we will accomplish more. The opposite is always true. Focus on one goal and get it done. Then move onto the next task. Your concentrated concentration will pay off with high value work done in a shortened amount of time.
3. Schedule your digital interactions
Do you need to check Twitter ever 5 minutes? Or can you limit it to a 4pm timeslot to recap on todays financial news? Admit it: unless you’re a stock broker, you don’t need to compulsively check your social media streams. Decide what is really important to you and schedule specific times for that. Avoid the digital swirl so you don’t burn out on it all.
4. Stop treating email like instant messenger
Reply to email properly, rather than with rapid-fire responses. The latter will result in information being left out, and often requires you to keep sending further emails with clarification. Instead, take those couple of extra seconds to craft a full response. If you need a quick answer to something, try the novel idea of picking up the phone instead of creating a never-ending email chain.
5. Stop all notifications and push alerts
They don’t help you, they only distract you. You already know you will check your social media and email through the day, so why do you need a notification or push alert pushing you to do it right now? Turn them off. Don’t let them entice you into giving up control of your time allowing digital overload to creep in one ping at a time.
6. Turn on flight mode
If the thought of turning off your phone notifications just sent you into a blow-in-a-paper-bag style panic attack, then simply turn on flight mode. Allow yourself to make your deadline or reach a specific goal before you turn it off. Decrease digital overload one distraction free interval at a time.
7. Bring back face time
Let’s be clear that we are not referring to FaceTime, but actual time spent face to face. Human interaction is key to working well as a team and building good work relationships. While you may occasionally need a paper (or electronic) trail of events, it’s hard to convey tone and things often get lost in translation.
8. Walk away from the internet
Shifting your attention every time your email pings or you get another notification alert can be exhausting. It is a lot of work to shift tasks, and digital distractions make it all the more difficult. It’s important to know when to give your brain a break from being fried. Step away from your screen, go for a walk, or even just take in the view. It can be hard to convince yourself to take a break from digital input but try it in small doses and see how much more effective you are when you refocus.
9. Go for lunch or just take your breaks
Being chained to your desk does you no good. Not only does your productivity suffer but your stress levels increase. Go for lunch, indulge in a coffee break, or just step away from your desk for a few minutes. Even taking short intermittent breaks reduces the chance of burnout, helps maintain good mental health and combats digital overload.
10. Create a daily Golden Hour
For one hour a day create a focused environment devoid of all digital distractions. This means no internet, social media, phones, email, tv, computers, eBooks, or anything that has a ringtone or screen. Read a real book, go for a walk, journal, put together a puzzle. Do something real. It can seem quite radical, but it is another great step to implementing barriers in your life to help you avoid digital overload.
11. Don’t let your devices be your priority
Avoid looking at your devices for the first hour of the day, and the last 2 hours before bed. You are overwhelming yourself by making your devices your first and last priority. Give yourself space without them. Instead allow time for reflection, move your body, set your intentions for the day. Kick your habit and keep digital overload to a minimum.
12. Check if you are too connected and suffering from digital overload
It can be hard to identify if we are too digitally connected with the amount of digital we are exposed to daily. To see if you might connect with the world better by disconnecting from your devices some of the time, try taking this digital distraction test. It could be exactly what you need to remind you unplug and get back into your real life.
Make plans for your future
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