Recent events have thrown us and dumped us well and truly into the digital world. Whether we like it or not, if we want to communicate, learn, work or entertain ourselves, technology has become the go-to provider. On one hand – a lifesaver, on the other, a curse. Here is the first part of my Combating Digital Stress series of posts to help you reduce digital overwhelm.
In pre-covid life, I had a timetable for the day. I got up, did school drop (talked to other parents at the gate), went to work (hands-on and talking face to face with clients), picked up my daughter (chatted some more with other parents), provided taxi service to clubs (got out and about, crazily trying to grab hours in the day and interacted with others did some climbing with other adults whilst she did her class), made dinner, cleaned up, watched a little chillout tv, went to bed.
But my covid timetable has sent me to the office and face to face with my computer meaning a LOT more hours at my computer screen.
I catch up with friends and family on video calls, I jump on video call meetings with colleagues, I coordinate video calls for my daughter with her friends via Whatsapp then set them up on a call, I see and treat clients via video call, and then chill out with a film or Netflix in the evening.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful that we have the technology to keep the wheels turning, but the digital world is responsible for a fair few stressors including time management, physical stress, mental stress, and emotional stress. In Part 1 of Combating Digital Stress, I take a look at the importance of scheduling digital time and some management strategies.
Part 1 – A Structured Day
Those who know me well will know that I have never been a slave to my phone. I’ve always said, “If you need me, call me”. I am rubbish at responding quickly to texts because I simply hate the idea of constantly being and the beck and call of my phone. My work hours are my work hours, and if a client chooses to text me or email me at 2200 at night, that’s their prerogative. I answer all queries during office hours and boundary my time between work and family. But wow, this has flown right out of the window with the new normal. My phone doesn’t recognize its newly acquainted owner. The other day I was multitasking with 52 tabs open on my computer. Last week I even scheduled someone in on Sunday (no more of that!!)
Have you become a slave to your screen?
So I have enforced digital structure to my day.
It’s scheduled into my calendar like appointments.
Sticking to my digital schedule means I can manage my digital time, rather than falling into the trap of dipping in and out all day (and all weekend!)
- Don’t run meetings back to back. Make sure you have at least 10 minutes between hour-long meetings.
- In the breaks between meetings, make sure you get up, walk away from screens and MOVE!
- When working on admin, blogs, and social media stuff, try using the POMODORO technique. This technique gets you working in 25-minute segments and getting up and away from your screen for 5 minutes before continuing. The idea behind the Pomodoro is that 25 minutes is a good timescale to ensure optimal focus and flow in a task. This is much like transcendental meditation which I practice 20 minutes a day, twice a day. It provides an optimal time for rest and recovery in the body, making my non-meditation time more focused with clarity.
- Set your ‘digital office hours and stick to it. You need rest and balance and just because you are online, doesn’t mean you have to work all day and all night.
- Do not be a slave to every notification you get. If your client chooses to message you at 2230, that is their prerogative. Answer them back in ‘digital office hours’. Set your boundaries.
MOVEMENT BREAK TIPS:
- Use your 5 minutes to do some wrist mobility exercises to offset the repetitive wrist position of typing. I love wrist circles clockwise and anticlockwise.
- Do some lunges to open up your hip flexors.
More Movement tips coming in Part 2!!
Bringing structure to your online presence ensures balance. It means that you control it rather than it controlling you. For me, it means I am more present with my daughter when it is non- digital time and it also means that my work-life balance is not massively out of kilter.
It ensures I step away from my desk, my phone, the tablet, and my computer and spend time in the garden, baking, cooking, and playing with my daughter. The digital shift can be a really positive one as long as we bear in mind our well-being needs within it.