We live in a digital society where everything is interconnected, so it’s not possible to completely step away from your computer or phone at work. But there are ways to create a more balanced relationship with technology.
In Cal Newport’s new book, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, he discusses how to figure out what digital communication tools (and behaviors surrounding them) add the most value to your life. In other words, he talks about how to create balance between digital and physical reality. Balance technically means even distribution; however, a work life balance means something different for everyone.
It’s easy to get swept up in work and feel like you always have to be “on.” Answer your emails quickly, work late, arrive early. It can seem like everything is coming at you a mile a minute, but the key to successfully navigating your career is creating a lifestyle that works for you. Here are five ways to embrace digital minimalism to help keep tech from impacting your life and mental health.
Make a habit of being proactive with your projects
One of the best ways to help minimize your time in a crazed digital state is to make a habit of being proactive with your projects. Instead of procrastinating and waiting until the last minute to crank out a big report, work on it piece by piece. Write part of it, then step away. Being proactive with your projects allows you to progress at an attainable pace, look at the project with fresh eyes, and maintain a healthy relationship with it so you don’t dread working on it.
If you know that you have a given deadline, start preparing for it a few weeks in advance. Look at the list of what needs to be accomplished and start putting things into place piece by piece. Is there an outline you can put together or an extra memo you can write now so you don’t have to do everything at the last minute?
The saying “work smarter, not harder” is around for a reason. We live in an era where we can automate some areas of business, and it won’t make any difference. Social media posting and email marketing are simple and easy places you can automate to save you time and brainpower.
Do you send out a weekly newsletter? Do you follow up with clients periodically? Make a list of what needs to get done each week and keep it on hand. This way you can check off various items and make sure that each task gets accomplished on time in an organized manner. If you know that something needs to be done weekly, you’re more likely to stick to a schedule and be consistent with your work.
Once you have the content, you can automate the communication plan so it sends without a second thought. By doing this, you are ensuring consistency and giving your clients the same services without having to physically be present for it. Some great tools include Hootsuite and MailChimp to schedule articles on social media and send out weekly newsletters. Another great tool is Meet Edgar. This automates how you promote your business and content on social media, and uses previous articles so that you can recycle content in order to ensure that it doesn’t get lost in the black hole that is the internet.
By putting in a bit of time to automate your communication and social media efforts, you can move away from the constant ties to digital media, save time, and put your mind to better use.
Clearly communicate that you’ll be out of office
An essential part of embracing digital minimalism is to actually take time away from the office. When you take time for yourself, it’s essential to clearly communicate that you will be out. Tell your peers and clients ahead of time when you will be unavailable so there’s no confusion, and make sure that this is marked and communicated in several locations.
People may still try to contact you, so it’s important to understand that as long as you’ve labeled and communicated your out of office status, there’s nothing more you can do.
A good rule of thumb is to put an away message on your email, record a voicemail which clearly states that you’re out along with your return date, and if you have a website, you can mark your business as “closed” for a specific time period. Most people will completely understand and even commend you for taking time away from work as long as you clearly communicate that you’re unavailable. The biggest issues arise when someone is trying to contact you because they are unaware that you’re not available. If you don’t clearly communicate your out of office status, someone may feel as though you’re ignoring or ghosting them which is never good.
Do something you love every day
Part of clearing away low-value digital noise is about being present and finding ways to improve your life. Discover something that you love and do it every day. This could be as small as walking your dog, cooking a healthy meal, or doing yoga. The point is to treat yourself and do something that makes you happy on a daily basis.
Work can be stressful and overwhelming, so getting out of your head and doing something you truly enjoy is hugely beneficial. It’s backed by science! Studies show that happiness leads to an approximate 12% spike in productivity.
Remember that most things won’t make or break you
In a society where we are completely plugged in and see every email come through, it’s easy to feel like we have to do everything right now and that every move we make is life altering. It’s not.
If you find yourself feeling like every move you make is critical, take a step back and think about five years ago. I know, it sounds weird, but just stick with me for a minute. Do you remember all the little things you were stressed out about five years ago? Do they matter anymore? Did they even make a difference? Probably not.
A good way to put things into perspective is to think about whether or not this will matter five years from now. If it’s something trivial, don’t stress about it. We tend to build things up in our head and make ourselves feel like everything is more important than it actually is. All you can do is be the best version of yourself, do the best you can, and accept that no one is perfect.
It can feel impossible to unplug and leave work at work but doing so is extremely important.
A native San Franciscan, Michele Lando is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and founder of writestylesonline.com. She has a passion for helping others present the best version of themselves, both on paper and in person, and works to polish individuals' application package and personal style. Aiming to help create a perfect personal branding package, Write Styles presents tips to enhance your resume, style, and boost your confidence.