Rules for Building Healthy Digital Habits
Lockdown has brought us even closer to the remote work culture, which isn't something that we are used to. Classroom teaching and boardroom meetings are replaced with online lectures and conference calls respectively, video calls are the new normal, social and digital media has seen a surge in users like never before and e-sports may even become a part of the Olympics (not really, though).
This is not an optimum environment for many people and the efficiency of work is not up to the mark. Also, the pandemic has caused a lot of stress worldwide regarding the economy and employment. These are tough times and may hinder your productivity if proper steps are not taken. Keeping in mind that this will even lead to people changing their careers and starting a new business.
Digital work ethics and rules are something many people don't know about. I will share important digital rules that you can adopt for a better work-life balance. Try to follow all the rules if possible. Begin at least with a single habit today. It will be easy to break habits and rules as no one's watching. But you need to know many people are struggling and now is your chance to get ahead of the crowd. Use a habit tracker to make sure you are following them every day.
Turn off unnecessary notifications
By far one of the major reasons you are glued to your phone all day waiting for people to text you or rather feeling bad because no one is texting you (is it just me?) Developers and major software companies send push notifications on purpose to remind their users about the app they installed and urge them to visit the app often. According to a new study done on 63 million app users in 90 days by Urban Airship revealed that if the marketers don't message new app users, they lose 95% of the users and only the remaining 5% of users continue using the app after 90 days. Sending notifications is a part of their strategy to increase the usage of the app.
The best thing to do here is to block or turn off the notification. You can do it manually in the settings for each individual app. The app I personally use is Daywise. It creates a schedule, collects all the unnecessary notifications in a batch, and shows it to you during a specific time of the day which you can customize in the settings. You can even whitelist important contacts so you don't miss their message. Overall, a useful app and it's free! For iOS users, Freedom is a good alternative.
Make a separate workspace
I tried it recently, and it works. Don't eat, relax, study and work in the same place. Rather, create a separate space to do all of them. If you like to work in your room, eat in the living room and, study with no phone or laptop around and relax somewhere else far from your work or study area. Also, try to make your workspace free from all the distractions i.e. phone, gaming console and even books that you read in your free time. Make sure the lighting where you work is sufficient and take necessary breaks every hour (use the Pomodoro technique). Sip a glass of water, stretch, or even take a power nap but don't scroll through social media, which brings me to my next point.
Limit social media use
I have written a standalone blog on digital detox where I explain methods you can implement to limit your social media use and even recommended a few apps for the same. I will be honest with you here: social media is not adding any value to your life. It is merely a portal for entertainment and to connect with your friends. If you don't work as an influencer, it is unproductive and drifting you away from your actual work.
Few important points to keep in mind are to make time in your day for social media and not use it often. Don't use it in your leisure time. Instead, boredom is way better than mindlessly liking and posting stuff on Instagram, for example. According to research by the Department of Philosophy, University of Louisville, boredom might be unpleasant, but they are powerful, moving, and instructive.
Let's imagine you are bored. You don't like the boredom, so you will automatically try to do something productive and engaging instead. Who wants to stay in a state of boredom? Don't think about picking up your phone, though. Do something that will add value and will take you out of that state. I have started cooking and trust me, you will be happier adding a skill than scrolling through cat videos and Keanu Reeves memes all day.
Declutter your phone and laptop weekly
Saves a lot of time! I like to manually go through my gallery and download folder on my laptop and phone and create folders for files or delete them if they are of no use. Set a reminder if needed. I like to do it while traveling or during weekends. Make sure your download and desktop are clean as we save our files there.
Whenever you need to search for a file, you will know exactly where to find it. For automatic cleaning, CCleaner for Android, macOS, and Windows and Gemini Photos and Cleaner Pro for iOS. In my opinion, you don't need such apps if you regularly clean your phone/laptop manually.
Back-up your data once a month
Here, I am talking about cloud back-ups such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or MEGA as it is way easier and can provide sufficient space for notes, photos, and videos. For project files, an external hard disk is a better option because of large storage and offline use.
Both Google and Apple provide plenty of space for back-up. What I like to do here is use a different app for different file formats. For photos and videos, MEGA and Google Drive for notes and other files. I directly back-up my gallery in MEGA weekly and store all the important documents in Google Drive. Dropbox is another good option but is not enough when compared to Drive providing 15 GB. Also, follow the previous step for back-ups too.
Unsubscribe from futile newsletters and messages
I see a newsletter; I read it. If I don't want it or if it is spamming my inbox, I unsubscribe instantly or delete it if needed. And apart from doing this, I check my email daily. I know many people don't have a habit of checking email. However, when you really want to check, you cannot find what you are looking for. Search helps, but it is usually a good practice to clean up your inbox as all the important stuff is there. Internship mail, invoice, job applications all occupy your mail and not your DMs. Inbox comprising hundreds of unread emails will probably detain you from cleaning it. I don't have any app recommendation here as I believe it may invade privacy. Do it yourself. Create tags if needed as search becomes easy.
Set up 'no-tech' time blocks
2 hours before bedtime and after waking should be spent without your beloved phone (or laptop). Why you may ask? Because it suppresses the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone, and makes it difficult to fall asleep. And 2-3 hours after you wake up is considered as the most productive time of the day to exercise/meditate/work. Plan your day during this time and try to complete as many tasks as possible. Also, eat in a distraction-free environment. Mindfulness should be a way of life. Technology is a huge distraction. Hence the name 'no-tech' blocks.
Reduce excessive gaming
I am not much of a gamer, but I have seen people wasting a lot of time because of it. Gaming is better than social media and even more social than social media itself. However, physical inactivity because of gaming may lead to obesity and sleep disorders according to WHO. So it's better to reduce your time spent on gaming and do a physical exercise instead.
Check out the study by Online Casino on 'The Future Gamer'. It's scary, to be honest.
Lock your phone/laptop if needed
This is by far one of the most effective techniques to take control of your digital life. Not only does it lead to more free time and hence increased productivity, but it also helps us realize that life goes on even without its presence. Take a day off once a week/month if possible. Sure, work emails and messages are important, but most of the time, it's okay to not reply to them instantly. Unlock your laptop, view your messages, reply and lock it again. Keep a schedule and if possible, take a day off from the 24/7 'reply to messages' life. Your physical and mental health is equally important. Cal Newport, the author of Deep Work suggests having a 30-day social media detox and after 30 days, keep only those services that are very important and are adding value to your life.
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