During a recent virtual conference, one of the panelists touched on a very important topic in relation to remote working; digital burnout.
We were intrigued. What is digital burnout?
According to the World Health organisation, burnout is defined as “... a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. Digital burnout is classed as a specific type of burnout that is triggered by digital devices.
We are so saturated with technology that digital burnout exists as the result when the constant connectivity gets too much.
In this scenario, technology moves from being a helpful and productivity-increasing tool to fueling emotional and mental exhaustion.
According to the Workplace Productivity Report from Kelton Global, more than half of office professionals are suffering from digital overload, 62% of workers think digital tools are making their teams inefficient in meetings and 49% say screen overload is having a negative impact on productivity.
A study done by Professor Alexander Markowetz, University of Bonn, found that on average, we spend three hours each day on our smartphones – picking them up at least 55 times per day.
So, how can we avoid digital burnout when working remotely? When we rely on the tech to do our jobs, and stay connected with our teams? How can we minimise the threat of it in a world of constant, instantaneous connection?
Here are 4 ideas on how to prevent potential digital burnout in your environment.
1) Maximise your time spent offline.
This is really important and it is equally important to remember that the internet is constant, 24/7, always awake and always available. Because of this, there will always be emails to reply to, messages to check and updates to read.
So, it’s tempting to get sucked into the online world as you refresh your social media newsfeed for the new updates and follow the never-ending trail of content.
Here are a couple of ideas of how to manage the constant digital demand;
- Limit when you answer your emails; when the ping happens, it can be tempting to answer work emails at all hours of the day, including when you are supposed to be having downtime. Limit the window to help keep this balanced
- Schedule to spend time away from digital influences during the day to give yourself a break
- Have a cut-off point in the evening when you turn off the computer and take some downtime
- Keep an eye on your social media addiction; maybe ask someone else to keep an eye on it for you too, to provide support.
2) Opt out of the information you don’t need
Do you really need all those newsletters? Or to subscribe to all those social media groups? Or those hashtags on Linked In?
Sometimes it’s helpful to do a bit of a digital audit and cut back; trawl through and find the things that you do need, dropping the things that are less useful.
Due to its ease of navigation, the internet is an expert at putting everything you’ve ever wanted to look at, right in front of your face, through targeted adverts and increasingly commercialised social content.
Take a moment to just filter through them and work out which ones will actually help you and contribute positively to your day.
3) Make sure you spend time outside the internet
The internet is the greatest invention of our lifetimes; it is a tool that enhances your life. However, it is key to remember that it’s okay to step away from it and work offline sometimes.
Think about work you can do that doesn’t involve the net or a human task you have been putting off.
Even though this may be a challenge, endeavour to schedule in some screen and technology breaks where you can.
4) Remove those false urgencies
This digital world of ours is full of false urgencies. Email notifications, text messages, social media, updates we can’t opt out of and persistent alerts.
These are problematic as they force us to stop whatever we are doing to focus on them, when most of the time, they aren’t important.
Turn them off as ruthlessly as you can, especially when concentrating on a specific task or in your downtime, to allow you to fully concentrate on your current task or situation.
This isn’t a case of turning our backs on technology but learning to use it in a much more conscious and positive way, rather than getting sucked into the rabbit hole of internet browsing or swept away by the sheer force of the information available to us now.
Take the time to work out where your boundaries are so you can use technology in a healthier and more beneficial way. That way, we all can get the best out of the tech and ourselves.