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1. Recognize the signs of technostress
– The first step in dealing with your technology-related stress is realizing that your gadgets may be causing you anxiety, frustration, sadness and lost productivity. If you feel alone and a bit aloof while communicating with people all day, then this is a good sign that technology is dominating your life. Take a couple of days and keep a log of how much time you spend emailing, texting, checking social media sites, and surfing the web. Also, do a good reality check about how you are spending your unplanned time surfing the web. Ask yourself, “Should I really be doing this now with my time?” If your answer is no, particularly if you feel anxious about unplugging from the web, then you might have a mild form on internet addition. In addition to anxiety, people who are experiencing technostress reports being irritability, having headaches, feeling mentally fatigued, and feelings of helplessness. There is also an increase in errors of judgment, poor job performance, and decrease job satisfaction. If you feel that surfacing the web gives you more joy than spending time with coworkers and friends, then consider talking with a trusting friend or counselors.
2. Turn on the email filters - Most email programs have options to filter out certain emails from the inbox based on addressee or subject line. Consider filtering out everything except relatively urgent messages (e.g., email from the boss), so that messages from friends, family, and coworkers don’t fill up the inbox and distract us from other tasks we might be working on. When it’s email-checking time, go in and check those non-urgent folders. Try an email signature that reads, “I answer email at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. If you need a quicker response, please call.” Also, consider setting up separate accounts for work and personal emails so you won’t be tempted to read the latest news from friends or that love note from your spouse in the middle of a staff meeting. Accept the fact you can't respond to 500 emails a day and that you were not born with a superhuman email checking ability.
3. Get out of the inbox
- When an email comes in, spend just a few seconds deciding what to do with it: respond, delete, archive, or add its contents to a to-do list. This save precious time and will not mentally distract you from projects that actually require a lot of attention. Keep in mind, that the inbox is not the proper place for a to-do list or reminders. Either use a list-making app or some old-fashioned pen and paper, but don’t keep going back to the inbox to figure out your priorities for the day. If you make a task list, then if you’re interrupted, you’ll get back to work faster if you have a task list.
4. Shut the windows to avoid multitasking
– Most people tackle working on a PC as if they have an unlimited attention span wither several sets of arms. At any given time, multiple windows are open, email alerts are buzzing, cellphone is vibrating, and the office telephone is ringing. We think we can handle the workload and have a cup of java at the same time. However, research suggests that multitasking is both detrimental to our productivity and a potent source of work-stress that can have deadly consequences. The solution is to stay calm and focused by working in just one window at a time.
5. Designate some gadget free time (Wednesdays Without)
– I happen to be completing this piece on Wednesday, the day I’ve chosen to be without my smartphone or any mobile device. It is a bold move to designated time periods or in my case, a day, where you are gadget-free and your phone and mobile devices are completely off and at home. Like most people, when these devices are on, I refresh my inbox every few minutes or swipe my smartphones to see if anyone’s messaged me in the last minute and a half. Unless you’re expecting an important phone call or email, you’re probably just wasting the phone’s battery life by keeping it on all the time. Think about it, nothing is really gained by being this vigilant to our devices. But by doing so, you’ll miss opportunities to spend quality time with the important people in your life, your family and friends. To avoid missing out on important connections with the people you love, it’s important to put the phone on silent or turn it off. Rather than checking for messages every few minutes, make a plan to check your emails and phone messages in batches every few hours. In most instances, this will often produce the same results.
6. Take an email vacation
– Yes, you read it right— take a vacation away from your inbox. Current research suggest that spending a few days without looking at the inbox, can actually reduce stress and boost productivity. Let the people in your life know you will not be available and give it a try.
7. Turn off the screen and get outside
– For most of us, there is a place in the day when we can ditch the digital stuff and go outside to enjoy what Mother Nature has brewed up. The workplace for some of us has lots of windows and natural light, while others spend their entire day working in a cubicle under the glow of florescent lights. The health benefits from the daily exposure to natural light and getting outside in nature are immense, but many of us choose the sedentary lifestyle. If at the end of the day, you find yourself walking on a treadmill while watching TV, consider getting outside instead.
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