Dealing with the digital overload

Digital Overload in the workplace

Dealing with the digital world is a daily challenge we face and something we need to manage at work and home to avoid losing time and productivity.

It’s time to refocus – but how?

I came across an article on the Psychologies website by author Tom Chatfield, ‘Are you Suffering Digital Overload?’ which addresses the problem very well, I have summarised the key points below, so not to overload you! :0)

‘Why are we struggling to cope when it comes to our digital lives?

‘Digital Detox’ is an overused phrase, but the problem unfortunately is a growing one and will only get worse. The number of hours in our days hasn’t changed, yet we are all subject to more information – images, videos, words, sounds, sights, people, opportunities, truths and untruths – than ever before!

Why are we attracted by the idea of a ‘digital detox’?

Many people can identify with the toxic feeling you get when you’ve consumed too much of something and you want to purge, atone, rebalance the scales. This is exactly how many people feel about technology and media. The afternoon vanishes down the cracks between ‘just checking’ emails or catching up with Twitter or Facebook, and five minutes becomes an hour or two.

How can we deal with digital clutter?

We have different, complex relationships with different kinds of technology, and really need to ‘become a digital gourmet’: filter and make choices on the basis of what you relish and care about, rather than from fear of contamination. Say ‘no’ as well as ‘yes’, rather than simply to stuff your face all day with content.

There may be individual technological experiences – a video game, an app, a social network – with which you have a negative relationship, and which your life would be better without. It’s important to be prepared to sever these bonds and completely remove the distraction.

What about screen time? How much is too much?

Anything is too much if it is having negative consequences in your life; too much for one person may be a requirement for happiness (or employment) for another. What I try to be careful about is falling into a habit that cuts me off from other things I would be better off doing.

I try to make sure I carve out a sufficient amount of time for the things I value that can’t be achieved through tech: reading a book, seeing friends and family, walking and exercise, reverie and relaxation, cooking, eating or drinking in company. I feel that at least half my waking hours deserve this kind of time and attention.

What if we dedicate too much time to the digital world, or are too easily distracted by it?

Take a step back, but don’t call it a detox. You’re not trying to give up smoking here – you’re trying to understand yourself a little better. Examine your habits. Do you think they serve your needs – or preserve bad patterns? Connect with others, and build new, better habits together. Don’t forget that – one of the genuine wonders of a digital age – you’re never alone.

Can we use technology to simplify other areas of our lives?

They say knowledge is power – but knowledge is a very different thing to information. Used well and highly selectively, however, technology apps can be a gift to those looking to simplify, understand and cope better with the world. Look for a manageable, small number of tools – hardware and software – that don’t turn your days into a self-improvement simulator.
My single most beloved hunk of technology? A piano, and the total escape that playing it offers me every day.’

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