FLEXXIBLE IT BLOG

Digital Wellbeing: how we use technology matters 

by | May 25, 2022 | Blog, Digital Wellbeing

It can be difficult to remember, or imagine what life was like before technology. How would we book a flight without the internet? What about finding a nice Indian place to take your partner to for dinner? What if you need a birthday present by tomorrow and let´s face it, you´d be lost without Google maps. 

During the last few decades remarkable technological developments have rapidly rooted into our day to day lives, which has often happened so smoothly that their immense impact on our daily lives seem to have gone unnoticed. Technology has created many opportunities for connection, an endless source of information and simplified a lot of our actions and activities. In fact, Technology offers us tonnes of benefits, from ordering shopping online, to finding the answer to random questions you might have, and now even enabling organisations to introduce a hybrid working model, allowing their employees to have the best of both worlds.  

The phenomenon known as Accelerating Change, allows technology to evolve fast as every technological upgrade can create the next, further advanced generations of technology at a faster pace. Because every new generation of technology is superior to its antecedent, it creates innovative technology more rapidly.  

That society in general has fully adopted modern technology is undeniable. In fact, by simply looking at people surrounding you at this moment, chances are slim their current activities do not include some form of technological device (like yours, or you would not be reading this article right now!). Technology can be used to complement our personal and professional live, however, it can also put a strain on this and have us end up working harder rather than smarter. In fact, where correct use of technology can make us more productive in our work, bad use of technology can reduce our productivity by up to 40%! Dell Technologies first neuro-scientific research called Brain on Tech measured the impact technology can have on our ability to work and our overall wellbeing and the study results showed that well-functioning technology and failing technology affect our productivity and general wellbeing directly.  

When we focus on bad use of technology, what mostly affects our productivity is Digital Fatigue and the situation where the same technology that should be helping us to work better, is actually proving to be a Distraction from getting our work done.  

In an era where we are always reachable and always switched on through one technical device or another, it is not strange that this ´always being on´ state is affecting us somehow. When you think about it, how many pop ups or notifications did you receive during your last meeting, or how many messages have you read since you woke up this morning? When you realise how actively present technology really is in your day-to-day, starting from the time you wake up in the morning, you may realise that it is not strange technology can distract you from other tasks and activities and can also become overwhelming, leaving you with a sense of (digital) fatigue. 

Digital distraction 

When we refer to good use of technology, we refer to a way of using technology to make our lives easier, to allow us to work smarter, not harder. However, often we are dealing with an overload of technology which can work against us, rather than for us.  

Looking at the negative effects technology can have from a professional point of view; it can be tricky to analyse Workplace interruption and distraction. Employees receive an abundance of messages, emails and notifications throughout the day. These parallel communications can easily form a distraction, especially when one is trying to focus on a more complicated task that needs their full attention. Despite the complicity, we really need to ensure that we have sufficient moments throughout our working day where these parallel communications are not impairing us from getting our tasks done. The reason why this is essential, is well explained by Psychology professor and co-author of The Distracted Mind (MIT Press, 2016) Larry Rosen who says that the problem lies in how the brain processes information when it gets interrupted; “It takes about 20 minutes or more after processing new information to achieve total resumption of where we were before the interruption.” Any distraction from the task we are working on will affect our efficiency and productivity, making it even more important to ensure that we take the time throughout the day where we can focus (focus time) fully, without any distractions, on tasks that require our full attention and concentration.  

Digital fatigue 

With the Hybrid working model being introduced in many organisations, work has certainly become more flexible these days. It allows us to work around personal obligations where needed, giving us the opportunity to combine personal and professional life in a way that fits our individual needs.  

The flipside of this is that we find ourselves surrounded by more and more digital devices and screens, even when we are not at the office. However useful this can be, it easily leads to digital fatigue; a state of mental exhaustion and disengagement that occurs when people use a variety of digital devices and applications concurrently and in an ongoing way. 

In fact, the Microsoft’s annual report ‘2022 Work Trend Index’ shows that digital overload still forms a risk as the average Team user saw a 153% rise in the number of weekly meetings since February 2020 and a 252% increase in their weekly meeting time. 

What to do 

So how can we prevent our use of technology being a distraction and eventually leading to digital fatigue? Let´s start with the obvious, to promote positive use of technology, we need to know our digital habits and what is working for us and what is not. For instance, there are hours during the day when you are most productive. Previous study has shown that for most people these productive hours used to be between 9 and 11 am with a peak in productivity shown at 11 am, however, these hours can vary for everyone, even more so in a hybrid work model where some people may choose to start their working day earlier or later. However, what it does show is that from an average 8-hour workday we are at the peak of our productivity for only a few of those 8 hours. With messages and notifications accompanying you like a shadow throughout your day, your productivity hours are something where distracting notifications are the last thing you need. Knowing what your productivity hours are, will allow you to block them off as focus hours and turn off notifications, allowing you to completely focus on your tasks during that space of time. 

As complicated as it can seem to prevent a digital overload, with the right tools, providing us with the required knowledge, we can ensure that technology remains at the service of people, and the individual in question, helping us work smarter and more efficiently.  

When we have full insight in our use of technology, we can easily make adaptations that will reflect in higher levels of productivity and support a healthy life-work balance.  

Digitalwellbeing.cloud gives you the opportunity to have a clear overview of your use of technology, allowing you to plan your workday around your most productive hours, ensuring you are taking enough breaks and even schedule in any exercise. This way you will promote good use of technology, aiding your productivity and wellbeing, leaving you more focused and with time to concentrate on what matters. Get in touch if you´d like to find out more about our service so you can start your journey to digital wellbeing today! 

Lia Pieters

Author

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