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Stop digital burnout in its tracks

This article appears in:
Study Tips, Time and Balance

Communications technology, such as computers, smartphones and tablets are a necessary part of university student life. It’s our digital footprints on online learning management systems, social media, email and other digital communications platforms that allow us to live two lives: one in person and one online. But, we need to remember that our devices were designed to make studying easier and to enrich our university experience – not to take over our lives. So if you feel exhausted by your emails and stressed out by your Snapchat, it might be time to take a look at your digital consumption habits to make sure you’re not heading for tech burnout.

Giving the people around you your full attention will show them that you value their company.

Unsubscribe and uninstall

Still got RSS feeds set up from five years ago? They’re not only clogging up your inbox – they’re clogging up your head and sapping your time, so it’s time to unsubscribe. While you’re at it, uninstall the gaming apps that drain hours of your time that would be better spent studying – you can always reinstall during semester breaks (but you might just find you don’t even miss them).

Be present

Find yourself checking your Snapchats when you’re out to lunch with friends? Are your children nagging for your attention as you try to finalise yet another email? Ignoring the people physically around us while engrossed in our smartphone is something we’re all guilty of from time to time, but we shouldn’t make it a habit. By all means, keep your phone turned on in case you need to take a call, but leave it on the kitchen bench rather than bringing it to the dinner table with you. Giving the people around you your full attention will show them that you value their company.

Schedule time for social media

If you’ve ever left your Facebook feed open all day you’ll know how difficult it can be to focus on your task at hand, which means it takes longer to finish the assignment that’s due or revise for that upcoming exam. Allocate a few blocks of time throughout the day to catch up on social media, and set a timer for the amount of time you’re online so you don’t fall into the trap of scrolling aimlessly for hours.

Delete social media apps from your smartphone

Sounds crazy, but hear us out on this one… If you find yourself scrolling your social media feeds aimlessly for hours a day, and it’s affecting your study productivity, it might be time to say sayonara to your smartphone’s social media apps. If you delete them off your phone, you won’t find yourself picking up your phone when you’re looking to procrastinate, and you can always catch up with what your friends and family are posting when you access your social media accounts via desktop. The payoff? Win back hours per week that you would have otherwise spent on your phone.

Switch to analog

Rather than sending hundreds of emails or messages to your social, study or work group, catch up IRL instead. If you frequently use design software for your studies, job or hobby, perhaps switch off the PC, pick up the sketchbook and do some ye olde hand drawings for a pleasant change. If there’s a way to do what you need to without using technology, give it a try – you might find it enjoyable to go back to the old ways, as well as reap the benefits of taking a break from technology.

Quit multitasking

A couple of decades ago, you would have been told that multitasking is the way to operate should you want to work at your optimal efficiency. Wrong. Research has shown that multitasking actually drags down productivity, as you’re not focussed on the task at hand. So if you’re trying to get that major assessment item done, switch your email account to ‘work offline’, put your phone on silent, close down that funny cat video, and be more single-minded in your focus.

Indulge in a non-tech hobby

If you’re staring at a smartphone screen on your way to uni, squinting at a computer monitor as you complete your assessments, and going square-eyed in front of the TV as you binge-watch on Netflix, you’re a prime target for digital fatigue. Instead of turning to a screen for relaxation, why not read a book, go for a hike outdoors, or enrol in a tactile arts course instead? Your square eyes and tired brain will love you for giving them a break.

Take a tech detox

OK so this is a drastic measure especially for you tech junkies out there – but a digital detox might be just what the doctor ordered. Organise an action-packed adventure weekend somewhere there isn’t any Wi-Fi. Disconnecting from technology for a short while won’t only help you reconnect with your friends and family, it will also help you relax and recuperate.

Meditate on it

With rapid internet speeds, constant updates and instantaneous communication, it’s easy to get carried away on the speeding train that is technological advancement. Meditation is a tried and true way to slow the mind, be more aware of your body, and to become mindful in the present moment. A short body scan exercise is a quick and effective way to reconnect with your senses.

While you should absolutely make the most of technology to streamline your uni, personal and professional lives, it’s important to disconnect from time to time to give yourself time to recharge and avoid digital fatigue.

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This article appears in:
Study Tips, Time and Balance

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