We spend a lot of time on our screens. For those of us who work remotely or at desk jobs, technology is an essential part of our working lives; however, it’s possible that our heavy reliance on digital technology can hinder productivity and even cause burnout. Compulsively checking your work emails at all hours of the day and night or being regularly interrupted by notifications are all habits that might be contributing to stress, anxiety, and burnout.
Technology enables us to work more than ever before
The lines between our work and personal are becoming increasingly blurred. Technology allows us to work, all the time, from anywhere. According to the America Psychological Association, 53 percent of Americans work over the weekend, 52 percent work outside designated work hours, and 54 percent work even when sick. Research has shown that professionals have a tendency to work more overtime hours once they are allowed to work flexibly, compared to when they were not. The pressure to work long hours is also amplified by social media, where the #ThankGodIt’sMonday and hustle culture glorifies this workaholic lifestyle.
When workplace digital technology takes its toll
Unfortunately, being “always on” comes with a number of negative productivity and health effects. For one, we lose out on productivity when we’re flooded with low-priority tasks such as reading unimportant emails and attending non-mandatory back-to-back virtual meetings. Constant streams of messages hampers our ability to adequately process information and focus on the tasks at hand. Too many alerts and choice overload can also paralyze us from making decisions about what projects to work on and accomplishing a goal.
Unhealthy workplace technology can also impair our physical and mental well-being, causing poor sleep, physical disconnection, and even anxiety and depression. The glow from our digital devices delay the release of sleep inducing hormones. We lose the human element at work and in our personal lives when we replace face-to-face communication with group chats and social media. Studies also show a correlation between social media usage and anxiety and negative moods.
For those who have trouble switching off from technology, here are five tips to consider:
Small changes can make a big difference
- Unwind before bedtime. For better sleep, give yourself some technology-free time 15 minutes before bed. Try reading a book or magazine to help you transition into sleep.
- Trim your social habit. It can be very difficult to change this habit because social media is very addicting. Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce your social media usage. You can trim down to just one platform or set a time limit on each platform. It also helps to consider how much time you’re spending on social and how that time can be better utilized.
- Exercise and take frequent breaks. If you find yourself feeling burned out, going out for a walk can significantly improve your mood. Exercise increases serotonin which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite. It also gives you an excuse to get away from your screen.
- Work in a technology-free zone. If you don’t require technology to work on certain projects or assignments, consider booking a room or finding a spot that’s technology-free. Even turning off your phone and moving away from your computer for 30 minutes can give you sufficient time to focus and get work done.
- Turn off push notifications and alerts. Change your phone and tablet settings and turn off alerts so you’re not constantly interrupted. As well, try not to always check your inbox. You can allocate certain times of the day such as in the morning and during lunch to catch up on email.
Work-related stress and job burnout can be serious issues. While switching off from technology may not address the deeper problems you’re having at work, reducing your digital consumption can help your situation. By making these small adjustments, you give yourself the time and space to reenergize and reflect on what’s important to you.
For more advice on ways to improve your career, have a look at our resources