How to Be More Productive and Less Affected by Our Devices

In the era of the Internet we are subject to a massive volume of data, and information is available almost everyday, at every time.

We are overloaded with information. Not only from news, chats and apps we use on a daily basis. Most of the times, we use digital tools and social media in our working routine, especially if we’re working remotely.

That’s why being able to optimize the use of social media and digital tools is becoming necessary. Knowing how to manage your online activity is essential both for your productivity and for your well-being.

So, what to do to cut the side effects of such tools?

Turn off notifications of your phone.

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That’s a pretty obvious one. Still, we forget to do that. Some research show that we’re able to keep our focus for about 20 minutes at a time. Our brains are not programmed to focus for a long time. Distractions terribly decrease this time span, and what’s more distracting that the sound of a notification popping up on our phones?

If you, like me, can’t wait to check who texted you and why, you should consider turning off notifications. Or, at least, to put your devices in silent mode. If you think you can’t make it, you can take a drastic decision, and leave it in flight mode.

That’s a very easy thing to do but, believe me, the benefits we get are incredible.

If you feel like you can’t wait to hear from your friends, you should set up priorities. Are you waiting for some important news from someone? If yes, then keep the notifications active for that specific conversation. Otherwise, you can silent that person. Nobody will get offended because you silenced them. And no, I don’t believe you’re not able to do that!

Use only the social media you need. And for the purpose you need.

If you’re a recruiter and you’re working on LinkedIn, don’t open Facebook to scroll your timeline during your breaks. What you can do, instead, is to use those ten minutes breaks to do some stretching, go for a quick walk, or drink a coffee.

Taking a break from your online work and staying online is like taking a break from sport and do some physical activity. It won’t work! You need to set your brain to completely different tasks.

This concept applies to almost every social media. Whether you’re a blogger and need to use Twitter to connect with the bloggers community, or you’re a photographer and need to share your work on Instagram, optimize the time you’re spending on social media. Don’t lose time scrolling your timeline and looking for the latest tendencies.

If you work with Facebook, focus on the tasks you need to carry out and don’t lose yourself in your timeline. A few days ago I found out it was the birthday of a former workmate. “Okay, I’ll wish him a happy birthday, ten seconds, and then I’ll log out”. It’s not necessary to add that I spent more than ten minutes on Facebook.

Can you relate? I believe that sometimes we need to set up priorities. I know, that girl who posted on the group deserves a kind answer, and you know how to help her. But at the same time, replying to her will make you lose your focus.

What you can do is to take some time per day to do little social media breaks. You can dedicate those moments to do all those things that are not urgent but you feel like doing. Like wishing your friend a happy birthday, or replying to comments and posts that you care about.

Keep only a few pages open in your navigation bar.

Have you noticed that when your desktop is messy, or you leave tens of open pages in your browser, you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you still have to do?

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I believe that’s a psychological factor we often neglect. Working in a clean space and keeping our desktop tidy helps us enhance our productivity. In the same way, keeping our navigation bar as neat as possible can be beneficial. Try it.

If you’re like me, you may feel the need to switch from one page to another, to get to the source that was cited in the article you’re reading. That’s good but don’t overdo it. Take your time to finish reading an article, and then jump to the next one.

A strategy that I find helpful is to open the hyper-linked articles in a different window of the browser, or copy the link and paste it on a sticky note, and open it later.

Have different accounts for different tasks.

Some of us are involved in more than one project, sometimes they’re completely different and make use of distinct tools. For some jobs you might be using Google Drive to share your documents with your team. Other jobs would need you to use Zoom to do follow-up calls with your workmates. Some times, you need to join a Telegram group for team chat.

You’re overloaded with communication and you miss out your family or friends messages. “Don’t lie to me, I know you were online half an hour ago!” they might say. It’s extremely helpful to split your communication and your accounts. Instead of keeping the same account for different tasks and goals, divide it into a business account and an informal one.

Some examples? Use a business WhatsApp account and a personal one. Keep different email addresses. Create a set of passwords that are valid for job-related logins, and another for all the rest. And be sure to write them down, and store them somewhere!

You need to reclaim some healthy time for yourself, and that’s a good way to start.

Unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t need any more.

Okay, you set up your schedule, turned off notifications from your devices, cleaned up your browser navigation bar and finally found concentration… when the phone rings.

You have disabled all the possible notifications you don’t need right now… WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram. So you take your phone, knowing that this is going to be a job-related communication.

Then you discover that you got a mail from a mailing list you subscribed to months ago. Yeah, I know, you are sure that reading about that piece of information will take you only five minutes. But somehow you find yourself scrolling down the news, or getting lost into a personal development blog.

It’s hard to go back to work when you have dived into such an intensive enquiry, and that’s why unsubscribing from newsletters you don’t need any more is beneficial. Most of the time, we don’t need to get the information we subscribed for. Even if deep down we think that one day we’ll be able to read that article which has been waiting for months.

Cleaning up your inbox folder boosts your productivity.

Technology can be your ally, use it properly

If you want to be productive and make the most of your working hours, you need to know how to deal with digital tools. Having a good expertise of how to handle social media, emails and newsletters is a must. You need to optimize the use of the Internet and get the adequate amount of free time that you deserve.

If your job requires the use of technology or digital tools, you need to set up some good practices. Such healthy habits may help you reduce the stress that comes which the massive use of technology. Digital tools are powerful and promising allies to our productivity, but they can easily turn into a source of distraction. Even worse, they can get us addicted. In this post I suggested some strategies you can apply to enhance the positive sides of these tools, and reduce their flipsides.

That’s the first step towards a healthier working routine and, ultimately, a healthier life.

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