Anyone can learn to use tech solutions to help them become more productive
6 hours and 57 minutes. That’s the global average time people spend looking at a screen. To put it mildly, we spend a lot of time looking at screens. And much of that time we’re consuming. Not creating.
Social media, of course, is a big part of our lives with a global average of about two and a half hours per day spent being ‘social’ on screens. Then there’s streaming entertainment of all sorts from podcasts to movies. Basically, for many people, if they’re not sleeping…they’re looking at a screen. It seems clear we need help, and luckily, there is help to be found – and it comes courtesy of technology!
- Use a “Timer” App
Learning how to concentrate and work efficiently is a skill that requires repetition. The problem for many of us is that we jump from task to task, writing a report for a few minutes before checking a notification before a quick look at an email; then going back to the report before answering a text message… you get the picture.
Scientists say this is not “multitasking,” but instead something called task switching and task switching is very tiring and power-draining for your brain. We evolved to work on one thing, finish it, and then move on. We are not equipped to bounce back and forth between tasks; we need to put all of our brain power into a single thing.
Popular apps such as Blocksite come with what some call “tomato timers.” Known officially as the Pomodoro Technique, this idea was developed as “a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it.”
By using this timer method, one breaks their workday into 25-minute chunks…separated by five-minute breaks. In short: work like crazy on a single project for 25 minutes, and when the alarm rings – enjoy a five-minute break. Of course, those numbers can be adjusted. Work for 30 minutes, break for 10, etc.
- Use a Blocking App
Overall, we stare at screens for too long. Secondly, we spend too much time on social media (which can have serious negative ramifications for some). Thirdly, we are consuming too much. There’s so much available to buy and it’s so easy to buy it. Plus, you’ll even get it the next day!
Whether you’re addicted to spending money while shopping online or addicted to checking Instagram every 30 seconds, there’s one commonality – and that’s a device with a screen. So, some might ask…Why don’t you just turn off your devices?
First, for most, turning everything off isn’t an option – we have kids, a spouse, or a boss. Secondly, most find “turning stuff off” much easier said than done. But what if you were to organize exactly what you could see on your screens at which times during the day? That’s the premise behind an increasingly popular idea called a blocking app.
Free to download, easy to install, and able to sync across all devices, website blockers are completely customizable and more effective than you might assume. Step one is to download a highly-rated one like Blocksite, and start setting up the permissions. Let’s say you do too much online shopping on the weekends. With a blocking app, you could choose to have specific e-commerce sites blocked on Saturdays and Sundays.
Or if social media is the problem, you could set Blocksite up so that you’re only allowed 40 minutes each day – after dinner, for example. Making these choices is good for you in several ways. Firstly, the act of choosing to download and set up a blocking app is the first step in creating a positive feedback loop – a commitment to yourself to improve digital discipline in your life. Secondly, it requires you to perform some serious self-evaluations and be honest with yourself about what sites are causing you trouble.
- Use a Science-Based ‘Work Music’ App
Some people like to have the radio on in the background or play music through their headphones as they work or study. For those who can do this successfully, congratulations. But for the majority of us, the music or radio chatter is more distracting than helpful.
The fact that so many have this strange love-hate relationship with music during work has led scientists to discover some interesting things. For example, did you know that instruments that sound similar to the human voice cause the brain to wake up? –We’re talking about instruments such as saxophones or lead guitars. Because they sound like a human and we are primed to listen for fellow human voices, those sounds are (or can be) distracting.
That’s why special work music has been developed by numerous companies who have researched exactly what works – music with all the calming features so many enjoy while working, but minus the elements that science says are distracting.
There you have it! Three solid ways to use tech to “fight fire with fire.” Good luck!