Five years ago, I was complaining about having too much to read. Magazines, newsletters, journals, books for my research and my own pick of fiction for relaxation. My flat was overflowing with books and bookstores had become restricted zones. Then, there was television and my fix of crime serials that I had to watch every day.
Books and TV are a thing of the past. Cut to the present. I find myself struggling daily, torn between cute animal videos, articles, lists, gifs, blog posts and status updates. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Slide Share and Twitter. Then, there’s my Kindle and all those books waiting to be read. Oh wait, there’s my phone too and the several apps on it vying for my attention. Is it lunch time already? Which app should I order food from today?
Most people, like me, struggle with information overload. According to Gloria Mark, professor of informatics at the University of California at Irvine, we shift our attention between online and offline activities every 45 seconds. Your daily mental gymnastics as you jump from your best friend’s Instagram pictures of her new pet dog to your cousin’s tweets about her holiday in Canada can lead to fatigue, stress, and poor decision-making at work. And that’s not all. It affects your health and relationships too.
Slight tweaking of your daily routine can help strike the perfect balance so that you can control the adverse effects of too much technology on your work, health and relationships.
- Have a Plan – Just like you would follow a diet to lose weight, you need to have a diet to control your technology intake. You wouldn’t watch TV or eat potato chips all day would you? It’s the same for technology really. Monitor and watch your use.
- Set an information goal for yourself – This will help you control the information you need to take in and what medium you need to use. Stay away from any apps and platforms that may be a distraction to the goal you have set for yourself. If you are writing an article and need to do some research on the Internet, stay away from Facebook for the entire day till your work is done!
- Do not multi-task – Keeping an eye on Twitter and Facebook while you send important office emails is never a good idea. Not only do you get distracted when you move rapidly from one task to the next, you take longer to finish. Focus on one thing at a time. It makes the task at hand easier to complete
- Organise your apps – Clean up and get organised. Put all your apps into one folder, delete the ones that are useless and resist the urge to check what is being offered for lunch on your favourite food app when you are doing something else.
- Take the time to get offline – Have a meaning conversation with a human every day. Or even your dog. Technology can be isolating and you have to be able to develop meaningful connections with people and not hide behind your computer screen or smartphone all day. You will be surprised at the benefits of having a real conversation with a real life person!