Fortune ran an article recently about how to escape digital slavery. I scoffed while reading. I’m no slave, thought I, as I skimmed through my iPhone emails. Slave? Ridiculous, I laughed as I flicked to facebook. I’m the master I chanted, as I texted several people I probably should have called or had coffee with. Here’s how to break the habit, should you be as hopeless as me when it comes to digital slavery.
Rediscover Face To Face
I used to work in an office, where I literally used to email the person sitting next to me. The thing is, it’s not productive. Our concentration span is broken, so we don’t work as effectively as misunderstandings or clarifications, that would take a second in real time, take light years in cyberspace. Limit your emailing to the absolutely imperative, and try and do things face to face. Have a coffee with someone to discuss your projects, get back to the time of the water cooler chat. Emailing someone to ask how their weekend was really isn’t going to do anything for the office vibe.
Save Yourself With Technology
I have little discipline, and I use technology to help me overcome that. Focus Booster limits my emailing time to 5 minutes every half an hour. Just download the little program, and it will give you a bell when your computer ‘free time’ comes up. According to the Fortune article, there’s a program called RescueTime which will break down where all your computer minutes go. Now that would be a scary read.
Put The IPhone Away
I do it too. I leave my iPhone on the table. Why do I do that? There is nothing, and I mean nothing, interesting enough to call me away from whatever conversation I’m having in real life. I check my Facebook while someone goes to the toilet. It’s a crutch for those of the short attention span, and those of us who are convinced everyone else is having a better time than we are. So why not start having a good time (or paying attention in that important meeting you’re having?) by keeping your iPhone out of line of sight.
As someone who is self-employed, I don’t really have much down time. Like, days off aren’t really something that figure high on the ol’ agenda. But I make my life so much harder by never switching off at all. I check my emails until my eyes close. I answer them at the pub (baaaaad idea) or while watching TV. Set some e-time, and some real time. Don’t check your emails over breakfast, or have a morning tea without any digital surroundings. Don’t have your devices next to your bed. One day, I’ll follow my own advice and I can guarentee my work life will be the better for it. And maybe my real life too.
Multitasking Slows You Down
Yep, you can juggle. Of course you can. But every thing you do is just a little less focused because of it. Fortune suggests having a maximum of five tabs open on your browser won’t limit you, but also won’t overwhelm you. I also suggest not getting push notifications from IM or Twitter. Take it one task at a time, give it your full attention, and you will do a better (and quicker) job.