Most people have difficulty managing electronic distractions. Even as a psychologist I sometimes struggle. For example, I will check my email and texts repeatedly throughout the day or watch a video for 2 hours when I planned to watch it 30 minutes. When we notice that we cannot stop looking at our phone, tablet, watch, or computer, it’s time to take back control.
Below are 8 tips for helping you manage electronic distractions.
1. Limit your electronic time to blocks. If you are a fan of social media, online news, or whatever you enjoy watching, reading or doing online limit your time to 1/2 hour in the morning and 1/2 hour in the evening.
2. Declare email bankruptcy! If email is overwhelming you, wipe out all of your unread emails in your inbox, and start over with a clean slate. Before you do this, identify critical people you need to contact and send them an email explaining that you are declaring email bankruptcy. For step-by-step instructions on how to declare email bankruptcy without getting fired, check out this article: How to Declare Email Bankruptcy.
3. Consider an automatic email reply. State when you plan to check and return emails. Clear this with your boss first, and express why it is important for you to stay focused at work and how multi-tasking reduces your productivity and focus. One study showed that employees checked their email 36 times per hour! That level of multi-taking makes it almost impossible to complete your work and also lowers your IQ.
4. Take a Digital Sabbath. Pick a day during the week (probably a Saturday or Sunday) and make a decision that you will turn off your phone and computer, not watch television, movies or play video games, and that you will avoid all electronics for 24 hours. If you find you feel agitated while doing this, you are probably addicted to this constant flow of information, and should be patient as you allow yourself to detox.
5. Go on a Low Information Diet for 1-week. For one week, no texting (talk on the phone instead) no social media, no news, no television or movies, and no video games. Emailing and texting is only allowed for essential reasons. Screen time on your computer is also limited to essential tasks and you are only given 1-hour each evening to read fiction with a physical book not a kindle or nook. There is a wonderful chapter on how to go on a “Low Information Diet” in Timothy Ferriss’ book, “The 4 hour Work Week.”
6. Deactivate Social Media for 1-week. If you are not a fan of Facebook, deactivate it for one week or at least remove the Facebook app from your phone! You can go back on but notice how much better you feel and how much more time you have!
7. Remove Email from your Smart Phone for 1-week. Just take it off your phone for 1-week and check your email at your computer. Then pay attention to how much better you feel!
8. Block Distracting Websites. If you are unable to control yourself, there are a variety of programs that you can install on your computer to block yourself from time consuming and energy draining sites like facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat, news, sports, amazon, or any other site that distracts you.
- Go F***ing Work for chrome
- Web Blocker for windows
- Self Control App for mac
Electronic devices are useful tools. It is important to practice managing electronic distractions so that we can live and work more effectively.
Contact Me: If you struggle with managing electronic distractions, please reach out to me for an appointment.