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, for many others):
Wake, check my inbox and Facebook feed. Read some news online.
Leave for the office, using Spotify on the bus, checking Twitter and news throughout the journey.
Start work. Spend the entire day connected, sending emails, checking Twitter, etc. until 5:30pm.
Bus journey home. Despite the fact I’ve been looking at a screen for pretty much 12 hours straight, I do a bit of reading on the iPad or check Twitter.
Routinely check phone every now and again.
This is insane; it means most of our day is consumed with being online. We are already seeing the effects of this connection addiction. 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 fear 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:
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 among work, home, and commuting, with the same routine every day.
Going out for a long walk or, even better, a run is a perfect antidote to being online constantly. 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 the whole 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 by 5:30. Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg speaks quite regularly about this, and in this video
she explains how it should be.
‘Do Not Disturb’
One reason 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 feature in iOS6 called Do Not Disturb, with which you can set the times you do and don’t receive notifications. You can also just turn specific app notifications off completely.
Another one is email. Set your email settings to Fetch Manually so you won’t be sent mail every 15 minutes, you will have to refresh them yourself, meaning you’ll spend 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.
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Have an offline day
Set a weekend day to just recharge, no phones, no laptops, no Internet. Sunday is a great day for this; it's naturally a relaxed day, and you’ll be rested and ready for the workweek. It’s amazing how much more energy and focus you will have.
These are seemingly small changes to make, but you might find they’re tougher to implement than you thought. Habits have to be broken and reformed. It’s so important for companies to encourage this sort of downtime, as it benefits everyone.
What do you think? Are we spending too much time being connected, or is it just the culture we live in now?
A version of this story originally appeared on Simply Zesty.