Before 2020 it may have felt like we were sitting at our desks all day long. In hindsight, we were commuting to the office, catching up with colleagues while getting a coffee, or simply racing to get to a meeting on time. All of these small interruptions to our work gave our eyes and our minds a break from our work and a chance to reduce our screen time.
Now with video calls dominating our day, we have an extra interaction we have to focus on. Multiple faces, bad audio, and missing body language force our minds and eyes to concentrate even more.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders recently came up with five tips to give us a well-earned break from technology once in a while. In her Harvard Business Review article, she explains the negative impact of too much screen time. We’ve taken a look at her top 5 tips to reduce screen time and regain focus.
Where you can, reduce your screen time by choosing a low-tech alternative. Brainstorm your ideas on paper. Read a physical book. Print an article as a PDF to read or proofread your work on a printed page. The best thing about reading on paper is that you can fully concentrate on it. And it’s more environmentally-friendly than your last coffee or lunch. Fewer distractions from colleagues’ messages popping up. A higher threshold till you google that topic for more information. And all of this reduces eyestrain as well as allowing you to change your body posture.
Zoom, Teams, and others have given us the possibility to have almost office-like meetings. However, they do require a high level of concentration. Before making a video call, stop, and check if you have a better option for communicating. A phone call, an email, a chat or even leaving a comment on a document that you are working on like in Teamplace might be more suitable for you and your colleague.
Structuring your day is a great way to get work done. But with virtual meetings interrupting you, it can be hard to focus. Set aside some hours in your calendar for uninterrupted work. This limits the amount of virtual communication you’re exposed to. Keep the afternoon free, or some one-hour blocks throughout the day – whatever best allows you to focus.
Because we tend to be in front of our screens more often at home, we can quickly become fatigued. Make sure you build in some movement to your workday to reduce your screen time. Try refilling your water from the kitchen more often. How about standing when making a call if you don’t need a screen. If you have the option to stand at your desk, or by moving your laptop to a high counter, try that too. You can even build in a quick one-minute routine for the top of the hour by rolling your shoulders or some other stretching to get you focused.
Sometimes you can easily rift into a desk lunch. Just answering a few emails while eating might feel efficient. But you need to give your brain a break from the screen. If you can, spend lunch away from your workspace, maybe with family. Or try to get out for a quick walk. How about building in some home chores into your lunch break? You’ll be moving and thinking about something else and it is a productive way to reduce your screen time. You will be more relaxed when you return to work, and your performance will be better.
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