4 Ways to Fight Digital Fatigue and Maintain Balance

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Priyanka Prashob
Priyanka Prashob is an organizational psychologist with 6+ years of experience in the field of Content and Psychology. She is a passionate writer and has authored 2 books. She has designed content for corporate training programs, worked on organizational behavior reports and numerous individual personality assessment reports. Several research articles written by her are published on platforms like Academia and Research Gate. The articles have gained recognition and appreciation from universities, academicians, and researchers across the world.

Digital fatigue is a big deal and many of us are a victim to it. Our life today revolves around systems and mobile phones. And with remote working – this trend has just accelerated even more. To the extent that – office work, meetings, marriage ceremonies, birthdays and other celebrations are happening digitally with the help of technology. It’s like we are carrying the most dangerous weapon right in our pockets – that is robbing us of our time, health, and mental peace. Yes, it’s our mobile phone! Be on holiday or while working – one beep sound from our mobile phone is enough to distract us and divert our attention. We find ourselves working past lunch, dinner, and through the quiet hours of the night – with so many social media applications fighting for our attention. Thus, with all the increased screen time we have to put up with today – the end of a workday can leave us feeling physically and mentally exhausted and drained in spite of the fact that we are working from our most comfortable and cozy place – ‘our home’. Here are some tips to help you fight digital fatigue and bring back that balance in your life.

4 Tips to fight digital fatigue

1. Avoid multi-tasking

No matter how good you are at multi-tasking – it sure can drain you of your energy and worst of all – affect your work performance and most importantly – your precious health. To back it up, research also shows that trying to do multiple things at once cuts into performance. Because you have to turn certain parts of your brain off and on for different types of work. And switching between tasks can cost you as much as 40% of your productive time. Also, Stanford researchers found that people who multitask can’t remember things when compared to their peers who focus on one task at a time.

So the next time you’re on a video call or on a meeting – close any tabs or programs that you think might distract you. For instance, avoid writing an email and attending an online meeting at the same time. You may think you are being efficient and saving time by doing so. But you are actually deteriorating the quality of the work as your focus is split between two tasks. Thereby, leaving room for more errors. Also, put your phone away, and give your 100% attention to the task at hand. Remember – one task at a time keeps the digital fatigue and errors at bay! 

2. Be conscious of your screen time

Mobile phones, tabs, desktops, and laptops have become a part and parcel of our lives- much like how we need food, water, and air to survive! At work time – we spend a great deal of time staring at our systems and off work – we find ourselves checking our mobile phones. Thereby, giving our poor eyes no rest from screen time at all. Fun fact: research shows that when you’re on video, you tend to spend the most time gazing at your own face – which can actually add to digital fatigue…LOL! However, this can be easily avoided by hiding yourself from view. Still, onscreen distractions go far beyond yourself. You may be surprised to learn that on video, you not only focus on other’s faces but on their backgrounds as well – even trying to zoom in with your eyes to find out the things in their background.  Remember, while you are doing that – you are actually stressing your brain to process all of these visual environmental cues at the same time. Thus, to fight digital fatigue – more precisely, ‘mental fatigue’ – encourage your employees to use subtle and plain backgrounds with minimum distractions as possible. 

Also, keep a tab on what makes you most tired! Is it video calls, texting on mobile phones, or having to look at never-ending excel sheets? Depending on your assessment, take corrective measures to fight digital fatigue and protect your sanity! Maybe you can limit yourself to responding to a certain number of texts per day, take a 10-minute break when you feel overwhelmed looking at the system for a long time, or turn off your mobile phone for an hour or so in a day! Do whatever you will feel will help you fight this digital fatigue. 

3. Don’t be a chair zombie, move a little – take short breaks

Take mini-breaks from staring your systems. And use this break to see some plants or take a power nap. The idea is to give rest to your eyes and using social media or checking your mobile phones is the exact opposite of resting.  Make it a point to turn away from your computer for a few seconds every now and then.

Most importantly, move around. Don’t sit glued to your chairs, your systems, and mobile phones. For days when you can’t avoid back-to-back calls, request short breaks in between. And use this break to engage in a small walk or even some stretches. 

4. Listen to your body – look after yourself

We find ourselves in an endless parade of online meetings, video calls, work, and email responses. Too much bouncing back and forth between tasks can lead to mental fatigue and cause anxiety. Also, many of us skip meals and have become prey to poor eating habits. All these are indeed taking a toll on our physical and mental health. Remember physical discomfort can translate into emotional and mental discomfort. So, listen to your body and be supportive of your body needs. Eat when you feel hungry and rest when you feel exhausted. Exercise daily, eat right and make sure to spend adequate time with your family. There is no stress-buster like spending time with your loved ones! 

In other words, draw a boundary between personal and work time and respect it. Self-care is also very important. Practice deep breathing and do things that you enjoy the most – the ones you know will surely uplift your mood. Take a digital holiday if need be!

Put a stop to digital fatigue

The 9 to 6 pm work routine has almost faded away! Also, the way we engage with friends, do our work and celebrate things has changed radically – by ‘changed’ I mean – all these have gone digital. And things are going to remain that way for some more time. This means, there are greater chances of us facing digital fatigue. Therefore it’s important you fight digital fatigue before it fights you and tears you apart. To help you on this journey, we have listed out few tips. If you would like to add on few more tips, please share them with us by dropping a comment! 

Also read: Is Work-From-Home Increasing or Decreasing Employee Productivity?

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