Technology is extremely useful to our modern lifestyle. It makes communicating easier and faster and helps us accomplish so much on a daily basis. One could even say that technology has become a necessity and you probably couldn’t imagine your life without it.
Despite the excellence of modern technology, it can sometimes prevent you from being productive. Prioritization isn’t a problem for some people, who know when to work, and when to play. But others need a little guidance on reeling in their attention so it’s focused on the right activities at the right time instead of letting it be a constant distraction.
If you’re tired of being so distracted by technology that you can’t get anything done, or you just don’t feel as productive as you’d like, here are five tips to help you get a grip on your time.
1. Use Your Smartphone Wisely
Smartphones are an amazing piece of technology. But the constant interruption of texts, emails, and other notifications can pull you away from important tasks at the moment. As a result, you end up reducing your focus and wasting time.
The best suggestion would be to turn your phone off or put it on airplane mode. But if you’re not ready for that level of ironclad commitment, start small. You can silence your phone completely or at least disable unnecessary notifications. Turn off any app and service notification sounds that chime, ring, and click whenever there’s a new activity performed or requested. Turning off the audible and visual stimulation will also eliminate your tendency for distraction.
Simply being aware that there are certain apps on your phone can tempt you to distraction. Eliminate apps you don’t need by deleting them from your phone. They have a tendency to steal your attention and your device’s memory. You can also sort the apps you really need into group folders, so they’re out of direct eyesight and not easily accessible.
2. Limit the Amount of time You Spend Browsing the Internet
The Internet is an amazing and vast resource saturated with plenty of great websites, videos, shopping experiences, and other things for you to explore. There’s nothing wrong with the fun and games when you’ve got free time, but it’s a different story when you’re in need of serious focus.
Fortunately, when you’re seeking to improve your productivity, there are plenty of tools available to help you limit your distractions and feed your focus.
RescueTime is an excellent app to start off with. It monitors your online activity and sends you a weekly update on the websites and applications you’re spending too much time on. You can use RescueTime to monitor where your time is spent and make adjustments to block or prevent access to those sites.
Apps such as Anti-Social, LeechBlock, StayFocusd, and SelfControl allow you to completely block your access to websites that distract you and waste time. These apps provide options that can prevent your access for a specific or unlimited amount of time, depending on your preferences. Like RescueTime, these tools also have options to help you track and monitor where you’re spending your time, giving you clues on time wasters that zap productivity.
3. Get Organized with Your Email
Whether they are on your smartphone or your computer, email notifications are probably one of the biggest distractions when you are getting work done. Apart from relevant email, lots of spam and promotional messages gets sent to inboxes daily. If email is not crucial for the work you are doing, the simplest, yet most difficult option is to go cold turkey and turn off your email notifications on all of your devices while you are working.
You might be tempted to check your inbox for new messages every once in a while, but try to resist the urge. Schedule the time when you’ll check your email, for example, during your break. This way you’ll be less likely to check it while you’re concentrating on your tasks.
If email is absolutely necessary for your work, there are plenty of options available to help you manage your productivity and lessen your distraction to email. For example, if you use Gmail, you can use its special function that allows you to sort your email notifications so only the most important content is visible in your primary inbox.
If you have multiple email accounts and use Windows 10, you can merge all of your accounts into the Mail App. This way you can quickly see if you have any new messages, instead of checking each account individually.
4. Take Frequent Breaks
Even if you have a job that requires you to spend a lot of time browsing the Internet, checking your email, and using social media, there is a way you can make sure your productivity doesn’t suffer.
Contrary to the belief that you should work as hard as possible, your productivity rapidly declines when you spend extended periods of time focused on a single task without rest.
Incorporating short breaks and mental diversions into your work schedule actually stimulates the mind and provides a welcome break that resets your creative energy. When you come back to your work, you approach it with a fresh perspective and rejuvenated attitude that sharpens your focus even more than if you were to work through the mental brain fog.
Schedule your breaks at regular intervals before you start working. If you have a general idea of the time you begin to doze off and get distracted, you can plan to stop working during that period in advance to recharge your batteries.
Try the Pomodoro Technique – it’s a popular productivity method among many people. You focus on your task at hand for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break. During this time, you’re free to check your email, update your Facebook status, go to the restroom, or return a phone call.
5. Don’t Multitask
Multitasking is a myth. You can pretend you’re accomplishing several things at once, but the truth is your focus is so diffused you’re unable to complete anything.
Some people find it easy to watch YouTube videos, write emails, post status updates and manage their bookkeeping all at the same time. But that isn’t multi-tasking, it’s task-switching, and it means you’re getting less done with the time you have. Also, because you’re constantly moving from one thing to another, you never get focused enough to get in the zone to really get anything done.
Multitasking also wastes time because you get overwhelmed, and that leads to pausing frequently between work tasks, shifting from one task to the other when one becomes a bit tough to work through. To improve your productivity, focus on doing one thing at a time – and even using one technological device at a time – to eliminate the seductive call of “multitasking” and really accomplish your goals.
At the end of the day, time is a finite resource. The more productive you are with technology, the better you’ll manage your time, and ultimately, the more you will accomplish. Allow technology to enhance your productivity by imposing limitations on what you do with your tech devices, and when you use them. Yes, it sounds crazy to limit your technology to basic usage, but it’s guaranteed to help you get more done in record time.
This is a guest article by Heather Redding, a tech enthusiast and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is a coffee-addict who enjoys swimming and reading. Street photography is her newly discovered artistic outlet and she likes to capture life’s little moments with her camera. You can reach Heather via Twitter.