Improve Productivity While Working from Home
Are you still working remotely? Maybe you’re in some type of a hybrid situation, or maybe you would like to be able to work from home occasionally even after your office re-opens. It is important to implement strategies for remaining on task with kids at home, laundry to be done, and social media click-bait temptations. Here is my best advice on how to use digital wellness tools to improve productivity while at home.
Track Your Tech Use
I am an advocate for the Digital Wellness tools provided by tech companies (within reason, they have designed their products to keep us hooked so take their solutions with some skepticism). While parents might already be using screen time controls to track their kids’ use of digital devices, it is helpful to reflect on your own behavior as well. Apple, Google, and Microsoft provide tools to help you see where you spend your time. The results could really open your eyes to how much time you waste checking your Instagram feed or getting sidetracked by news alerts. Of course, if you are using social media as part of your marketing efforts, it can be difficult to parse productive time spent on social networks from mindless scrolling, but seeing the overall breakdown will provide some insight.
Set Work-Life Boundaries
Enforce a structure to your day keeping your family’s needs in mind. It will likely not be the perfect 9 to 5 schedule but if you are available for your kids at specified times, you may end up finding a routine that works for all of you. This may involve setting time to check email before waking up the kids, or scheduling calls when they are busy with homework. You can focus on the work that needs the most concentration when you know your kids will be in-class, napping or busy with friends. At a certain point though, you need to be done with work for the day. Have dinner with the family, relax and recharge. Unless you are up against a particularly difficult deadline, resist allowing work to bleed into every free moment. Designate a time to ‘leave the office’ for the day. This will force you to lock in on work during ‘office hours’ and be present for your family otherwise.
Limit, Mute, or Pause Notifications
Push notifications, pings, reminders, texts… This where tech saps our energy. Are we using our technology as a lifeline to the outside world, or has it become a noose around our necks? Do you really need notifications to check Facebook? Do you need a reminder to find funny YouTube videos? It is time to declutter your phone, your desktop, your mind. Evaluate which disruptions are necessary because not every email is urgent, and not every text needs an immediate reply. I use distinct applications and alert settings for my business vs. my personal email. Adjust your notifications so you can separate the important from the ‘it can wait.’ When you really need to concentrate, set both your computer and your phone to Do Not Disturb.
Ignore the News
Another difficulty with being constantly connected is the relentless news cycle. The nonstop updates of voluminous information 24 hours a day is a drain on our psyche. It’s all so overwhelming. You barely have digested one nugget of news when you are immediately served the next alarming story. The best way to focus on what matters to you is to tune it out for most of the day. Trust me, much of the breaking news is a slightly new tidbit of information added to what you already know. If you shut it out for two days straight — you will be able to catch up in less than 10 minutes.
Write Down Intentions
I love my iPhone and my MacBook but sometimes my favorite tech advice is to not use it. Take time during your day to write down your intentions, your goals and your to-do-lists in the morning before you get started, in the evening to clear your mind before bed or any time you need a quick break from the screen. This may seem quaint with all of the convenient apps on our devices to track our progress, but there is a much more visceral feeling of accomplishment when you use a pen to physically check something off your list.
There is nothing more cleansing than a breath of fresh air — whether you leave your apartment for a walk in a busy city, take a stroll through your neighborhood or soak in nature at a nearby park, the change of scenery, even for a few short minutes, will help you to recharge, clear your mind and improve your concentration.
Technology is a huge distraction with the constant reminders, notifications, and the ‘mere presence‘ of my smartphone hypnotizing me to check-in. But it’s not just the technology itself, but what it has allowed. The always-on culture for work, the constantly connected family and friends, and the incessant ‘breaking news’. Everything is 24-hours-day so there’s no time-off from work, no break from home, and no respite from alarming headlines. I do not want to be uninformed, unreachable from my family, or unresponsive to my colleagues but every once in a while, ignorance is bliss. Give yourself permission to disconnect from one to concentrate on another, or unplug from all, even if only for a few mindful, cleansing deep breaths.
Denise Lisi DeRosa
Denise Lisi DeRosa is an expert in online safety, digital citizenship and a frequent speaker on tech-life topics. She founded Cyber Sensible in 2015 to provide digital wellness advice to families, schools, and organizations. Denise brings her background in traditional, new and social media, her education, and her personal insight in raising tech-savvy kids to her work as she encourages clients to manage their online lives toward success and well-being. Follow Cyber Sensible on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for her latest advice on tech trends.