We’ve all felt it. The compulsion to check our phones every few minutes, coupled with the nervous twitch that makes us flick through our emails, and that familiar urge to “catch-up” that finds us at the bottom of the news feed. In the modern age, the global tech addiction has reached epidemic proportions. If our “always on” working culture leaves you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed at work, then fear not! According to the Wundamail Team, it doesn't have to be that way.
In recent years, the idea of the “digital detox” or “online cleanse” has become something of a phenomenon. Popularised by wellness resorts looking to cash in on the global smartphone addiction, the “detox” involves eliminating technology entirely for a prolonged period of time (two weeks is usually a sweet spot- just right for a spell on a secluded pacific island, or say, a break in the moroccan desert). Although people certainly feel the benefits of switching off while they are actively doing the detox, studies show that the effects swiftly dissipate the moment you turn your emails back on.
So how do you find a place of calm in the chaotic vortex of technology? Just as Marie Kondo taught us that decluttering our physical spaces can evoke a sense of serenity, the same is true of our digital surroundings. Given how much time we spend online (according to a landmark report in The Telegraph, the average person in the UK spends more than a day a week online), it’s more important than ever before to develop a healthy, mindful relationship with technology.
To achieve this balance, digital “decluttering” is better than short periods of cold turkey. But when our working lives depend on technology, how exactly do we set about attaining online minimalism?
Streamline Your Inbox
Believe it or not, sorting and colour-coding isn’t the answer. While it may be useful to delete emails as appropriate, or label ‘urgent’ or ‘non-urgent’, any further micromanagement is probably overkill. Why spend precious minutes deciding which particular subfolder you wish to place your messages, if only to lose track of their location? As it turns out, life doesn’t necessarily correspond to five or six vaguely titled boxes.
Instead, consider software that structures your communication for you. For example, Wundamail sends a question to the whole team, then compiles the responses into one single group email. Imagine cutting out all the noise! Once a day (and once only), team activity is collated, condensed and circulated for all to see, so that you can spend more time focusing on the important stuff.
Daily Updates Vs Hourly Updates
Real-time communication apps such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Yammer have grown in popularity over the last decade, but the continual stream of chatter enabled by instant messaging can make it difficult to cut through the noise.
What makes Wundamail different is that it condenses team activity into a simple, daily email. More than just a chat, it structures the conversation so that words and ideas actually become actions. Each day, everyone gives a quick update, and receives an accurate snapshot of collective thinking. Having a daily platform to talk through issues, push past roadblocks and find genuine solutions will minimise interruptions overall.
Designate Specific Email Hours
When it comes to deploying the “out of office”, it’s worth considering whether you could use it in reverse. Rather than switching it on sporadically, to indicate your absence, consider leaving one on permanently to mark your availability. Here’s a useful template you can use:
Thank you for your email.
I check my email at [9am] and [5pm] each day, and will respond to your query as soon as possible during these times. If you require immediate assistance, please call me on [phone number].
Thank you for respecting my need to unplug during this time.
All the best,
Consider “Decluttering” Technology
Though it might seem counter-intuitive to introduce more technology in order to “declutter”, there are some excellent options out there. Kovert, for example, uses both qualitative and quantitative data to build products that allow people to set boundaries with their technology.
For example, Kovert and they have created “connected jewellery”, which encourages the wearer to put away the smartphone while alerting them to specific alerts in an emergency. You can alter which alerts transmit to the bracelet, making it easy to sift, plan and prioritise your notifications, which inevitably supports a healthier relationship with technology.