If you’re reading this then it’s likely you spend a lot of your day online. With the mobile revolution, we are all constantly connected and programmed to routinely keep on top of all these feeds and services.
Here's what a normal online day was like for me (and I would assume many others):
6:30am: Wake, check my inbox and Facebook feed. Read some news online.
7:30am: Leave for the office, using Spotify on the bus, checking Twitter and news throughout the journey.
9am: Start work. Spend the entire day connected, sending emails, checking Twitter, etc. until 5:30pm.
6pm: Bus journey home. Despite the fact I’ve been looking at a screen for pretty much twelve hours straight, I do a bit of reading on the iPad or check Twitter.
8pm: Routinely checking phone every now and again.
This is insane as it means most of our day is consumed with being online. We are already seeing the effects of this apparent addiction of being connected. A study from the University of Winchester revealed that users suffered ‘withdrawal symptoms’ when forced to give up Facebook and Twitter for just one week. Reports of ‘Nomophobia’ - defined as the phobia of being out of contact with someone via mobile phone - are increasingly apparent.
There are many reasons why you need to get offline. Essential things like physical and mental energy, for one, but also because you will certainly find your work improving if you are rested and more focused. These things are obvious, but we neglect them.
I set out to actively change the routines I had created and tried to establish a better balance between work and my personal life. Here are some ideas to help you steer clear of online fatigue.
(Image via Breezi)
It's an obvious idea, but it was amazing to think that in the schedule mentioned earlier, I really didn’t get much time outdoors over the course of a five-day week. My time was split between work, home and commuting, with the same routine being upheld each day.
Going out for a long walk or even better, a run, is perfect antithesis to being constantly online. Go for a 20 minute run twice a week, preferably outdoors, and it will give you a serious boost. Just try not to use your Nike+ app all the time!
Leave On Time
Like many, I got into a habit of leaving work later and later. That stopped when I had a son last year so every day, I leave the office at 5:30 and no later. Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg speaks quite regularly about this, and this video where she talks about this is how it should be.
Do Not Disturb
One of the reasons we check our phones so often is because of the volume of notifications we get. We're conditioned to reach for the phone whenever we get one. Apple introduced a handy little feature in iOS6 called ‘Do Not Disturb’, where you can set the times you receive notifications. Set it to the times you want to have some peace so you won’t be bothered when you don’t want to be. You can also just turn specific apps notifications off completely.
Another one is email. Set your email settings to ‘Fetch Manually’ so that you won’t be sent mail every 15 minutes, you will have to refresh them yourself, meaning far less time on your phone. A good idea is set a time to get back to emails in bulk, instead of checking every few minutes.
Have An ‘Offline’ Day
Set a weekend day to just recharge, no phones, no laptops, no internet. Sunday is a great day for this as it's naturally a relaxed day and it will have you rested and ready for the next week of work. It’s amazing how much more energy and focus you will have if this is maintained.
These are seemingly small changes to make, but you might find they’re tougher to implement than you thought. This is because it’s habit. Habits have to be broken and reformed and it’s so important for companies to encourage this sort of downtime, as they benefit everyone.
What do you think? Are we spending too much time being connected, or is it just the culture we live in now?