• Natalie Wild

Improve Your Digital Wellbeing

Technology is great, but its important to keep a healthy relationship with it.

I have been quietly working on the backlog of interview write ups and have some really exciting stories from women of tech to start sharing with you again very soon, like next week.

I've also set up a calendly account - kindly recommended by a woman of tech (thank you) - to help me with scheduling interviews in a non overwhelming way going forward and have sticky notes dotted around to remind me that "some things can be left till tomorrow".

In the meantime, I'd said recently that i'd start posting occasional articles around self care and supporting keeping your mental health in a positive state.

Well, in this article, we’re going to think about your Wellbeing, or more specifically, your Digital Wellbeing.

Your average adult now spends at least 6 hours a day consuming online media (that’s outside of work hours) and will check their phone at least 50 times a day, every day.

Digital Wellbeing is about building and maintaining a healthy relationship with technology. Its understanding how technology helps us to achieve our goals, rather than being a distraction or an interruption.

We often think that our devices enable us to multi-task. That’s a myth. There are numerous studies that show there is a significant drop in our cognitive capabilities when we’re flicking between screens.

Have a think about how many notifications you receive each day.

We know that our dopamine levels rise when we receive notifications - getting notifications makes us momentarily feel good. But research shows that it can take up to 25 minutes for a person to regain their focus to a task following being distracted by a flurry of notifications.

Personally, I often struggle keeping a happy balance of technology - I’m an all or nothing kind of girl. But every now and then I take a step back and review whether the technology I am using is actually improving my life, or distracting me from it.

I ask myself:

How much of this time is well spent?

How much of it is actually adding value to my life?

We all use technology in different ways, and we all define ‘time well spent’ differently too, so a good starting point to creating a Digital Wellbeing balance, is to understand you own definition of ‘time well spent’.

When I’ve defined what ‘time well spent’ means to me at that point in time, I then ask myself:

- How do I spend my time online?

- How much of this time is well spent?

- How does it make me feel spending this time online?

- Does it add genuine value to my life?

- Is there anything I’d like to change about my digital engagement?

- Is my use of tech helping me to achieve goal X, Y or Z?

We can get so caught up in our use of technology that we can lose the objective sense of what we’re doing. I then think about the wider aspects:

What role I would like technology to have in my life?

Are there any certain parts of my life that I want to try and keep device free?

Are there certain things about technology that frustrate me?

Asking yourself these questions will help you to better understand your relationship with technology. By understanding that relationship, you can gain some more control over your tech habits, enabling us to use it to its full potential and gain optimum benefits from its usage.

So, what can you do to create a better balance? Here are some tips.

- Use device monitoring tools (iOS Screen Time, Android Digital Wellbeing, Siempo, Space App, RescueTime) to show you exactly how much time you’re spending on each app. We often underestimate the time we spend using technology.

Using a tool like this can help you to really understand where your time is being spent, providing you real time insight, enabling you to make further choices about your usage. You can also restrict how much time you can spend on apps using these tools.

- Think about reducing, removing, or customising your notifications. The only notifications I have on my iPhone are for calls, texts, WhatsApp messages or emails, and even the emails are muted.

Its not uncommon for the average phone to ping a notification at you over 700 times in a week. That’s a lot of distractions, often unnecessary. (looking at you news apps, with your 20+ ‘BREAKING NEWS’ alerts every day, often not real breaking news)

- Consider setting your devices to ‘do not disturb’ mode when you need to focus on something. Enabling this mode will generally block all notifications, preventing your trail of thought being interrupted. You can amend the settings to allow some notifications if you deem them necessary.

- Consider taking a break from social media. You don’t have to delete your accounts, but you can deactivate them, or just not log in for a while. Taking even just a week off from social media can do your mind the absolute world of good. Read about this guys’ 30 day break from social media and the astounding impact it had on him.

- Think about setting yourself a clear goal of how much screen time you want to be having in a week and try and stick to it. Using device monitoring tools can help you achieve this. If you’re working with or at a computer all day, take that into account – maybe a couple of device free evenings at home is what you need!

- Keep only the tools you need on your home-screens. Move unnecessary apps to the back or remove them entirely from your home-screens. You’re less likely to be tempted by something that’s not in your direct view.

- Consider leaving your phone in a different room overnight to charge – starting and ending your day without your phone. We wake up most mornings and subconsciously instantly start checking our phones. We go to sleep most nights after scrolling through various feeds. It may not feel like it, but its impacting on your quality of sleep.

- Give ‘Device Free Meetings’ a go! Switching your focus between a device and paying attention in a meeting can cause you to lose up to 50% of your efficiency and accuracy. Making a conscious choice not to use or check devices in a meeting increases efficiency and productivity, and conversations & ideas will flow much more smoothly.

- Do you have a personal mobile and a work mobile? Do you need them both all the time? Switching off your work mobile when you’ve finished work for the day is a marvellous thing to do (if you’re contractually allowed to do so). Try it.

- Do you feel like your day is taken over by just responding to emails? Me to, too often. To help with this, I set specific time slots in my daily diary that is ‘email time’. I still read & respond to emails relevant to the task in hand outside of designated ‘email time’ – but this way, my focus is only on what I am doing at that time.

- Sometimes we just don’t need to send an email either…Before firing off an email, think, is there another way I can get this information that I’m looking for here? Would a face to face conversation work better, or a telephone call? Communication is key to a lot of things, and a personal approach is often going to be more welcome than, another email.

By creating and maintaining a healthy balance with technology, you will be sure to find improvements in your physical health, your mental health in addition to helping to create better relationships with the people around you.

This silly blog posting tool doesnt permit bullet points in the text and its really annoying me. Sorry for the poor layout.


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