Has tech got you down? Do you find yourself staring at screens for the majority of your day without taking a break? Are your eyes constantly tired and dry? You may be experiencing tech fatigue.
What is tech fatigue? Tech fatigue is what is currently happening to many people throughout our society due to our new dependence on technology to stay connected. Although many discuss work/life balance, the idea of tech/life balance is a relatively new one, (and I think it is just as important.
“Having our phones on hand can mean that the moment our mind wanders from the task in front of us, rather than re-focussing, we instead indulge our distractedness,” an article from the International Workplace Group stated last August.
Having our phones at arm’s length 24/7 means we are constantly telling our brains there are other things to focus on. We are never fully living in the moment because we are living in a world of constant distraction—just waiting for the next notification.
Many are so addicted to technology that they jump at every buzz, beep, and ring that emits from their cellphones. The truth is, we often don’t allow ourselves a break from our phones because it has become socially acceptable to have them constantly on hand. Research says that 66% of Americans sleep with their phones next to them and the average American checks their smartphone 160x a day or every nine minutes according to TechRepublic. Now that human connection isn’t an option, Americans are beginning to notice how toxic technology can become.
Before COVID-19, alone time often meant scrolling through one’s phone or watching Netflix. We were never truly left to our own devices (pun intended). Even though our devices are our way into the outside world, we’re collectively getting fed up with how much time we spend on them. So what can you do when you’re overwhelmed with tech but still want to stay connected?
Sleep Without Your Phone
Many of us sleep with our phone because we fear we are going to miss out on something, we use it as our alarm clock, or we are anxiously waiting for that emergency call. Although these are all valid reasons, blue light emitted from our phones is also causing us to have less than adequate sleep, according to Very Well Health. It may sound simple, but investing in an analog alarm clock and leaving your phone outside the bedroom—or out of arm’s reach—is an easy fix. In addition, you can put your emergency contacts into the emergency section of your phone, and they will ring through even on ‘do not disturb.’ Although you may find yourself having FOMO for a bit, the better sleep you will have will more than make up for it.
Analog Morning Routine
When we have our phone on our pillow or bedside table when we sleep, the first thing we usually do in the morning is reach for it and scroll aimlessly—quickly losing track of time. With your phone out of sight, you can spend the first half-hour to an hour of your morning without screens. Allow your eyes to adjust to the world around you by getting active, reading a book, or practicing gratitude journaling. Pick an activity to do for as long as your commute usually takes you so that you’re not immediately going from your bed to your computer. Give yourself space and time to adjust to each new day—this will help you make better choices by allowing you to actively participate in life rather than just react to it.
Take Breaks Often
Working from home has far less rules. Unless you have to be on a conference call or virtual meeting, you can make a case for taking breaks where you see fit. Stay on task with a to-do list next to your computer so you can check things off as you go. After 2-3 hours of work, give yourself permission to take a break! Go for a walk, stretch, color, work on a puzzle, or read a few pages of a book. It doesn’t have to be a long break, even five minutes will allow you to reset energetically. Plus, it’s important to give your eyes a break from the screen, and your brain will thank you for it as well.
Just as you did overnight with your phone, it’s important to set boundaries with your devices throughout the day. By setting tech boundaries, not only will your productivity increase, but you will also begin to wean yourself off of that FOMO feeling. Start small by setting timers on your social media or by putting your phone on airplane mode, do not disturb, or Brick mode while working on important tasks.
When it comes to socializing during quarantine, it’s okay to say no to that FaceTime call.
Socializing with tech can get exhausting, especially after catching up with dozens of friends and family every week. Set aside certain times or days when you’re available to check-in with the people in your life. In addition, you can always turn down a FaceTime and suggest a regular phone call. This works particularly well when you’re on a walk or taking a break outside where you can put on headphones, put your phone in your pocket and enjoy your surroundings.
Take any of all of these ideas to help you have more productive and mindful days during quarantine. Although this time is tough for a lot of us, and our emotions tend to ebb and flow every day, we can still try and make the most of our time. Remember to take it easy, don’t overwhelm yourself, and do however much you can. You are doing great.
And if you really want to dive into your relationship with technology? Download this free worksheet to explore your tech habits.