Once again, it’s a brand-new January and it’s the time lots of us start thinking about our goals for the year.
If you were one of the many who took the opportunity to have time away from screens and social media over the holidays, it’s a safe bet you’ll be feeling better and more chilled for it. Even 24 hours away can make a big difference and remind us of what life should be like without the pressure of having to get the perfect photo for Instagram, be the first to comment on Twitter or keep up with the latest on TikTok/Snapchat/Facebook/insert other social media apps of choice here.
Even though we’re back at work, wouldn’t it be great to keep that feeling going and have better mental health all year round? Perhaps now’s the time to create an orderly digital environment for yourself – both in and outside of the office – specifically with your wellbeing in mind.
It’s often said that “a tidy home equals a tidy mind” – and that’s true for your digital ‘home’ as well. Being clutter-free and knowing what you’ve got and where it is (on both your home and work PCs) is liberating, so let’s get tidying!
Ways you can clean up in your digital world include:
- Deleting old social media posts
- Closing old accounts of any kind you no longer use
- Unsubscribing from emails and newsletters you don’t read
- Reviewing old blog posts (everyone’s life, views and circumstances change over time)
- Sorting through your browser bookmarks and getting rid of those you no longer look at to give yourself a better user experience.
Here’s a goal you can consider for the year when you sign up for something new: take action at the start to prevent notification stress later on. For instance, are you tired of emails wanting to ‘help you get back onto’ a certain type of social media, notifying you every time you get an interaction or when you’ve updated something? Make the effort to go into the app’s settings and change your notification preferences. Sounds like a chore, but the few minutes it takes are SO worth it for an in-box with reduced clutter.
Make a stand
These days, it’s not enough to simply use a service; increasingly, we need to know what’s behind it. For example, we all need electricity, but how is it produced? With the push towards being more environmentally aware, people want to make more responsible choices and do so by selecting renewable energy suppliers.
In the same way, people are now more concerned about what the providers of the tech services they use are doing, e.g., whether they pay their taxes or how they treat their workers. They can then act on that information and choose to either sign up or go to a different provider who operates more in line with their way of thinking.
A similar principle can apply to internet searching, whether at work or at home. Don’t like the way some providers collect your data? Consider changing your browser to one that affords you greater protection and privacy, such as Firefox – and think about doing the same with your search engine. If you don’t want Google to know everything you do online, then move away. Other search engines like DuckDuckGo and Quant are just as good these days and have multiple security and privacy protections built in for your peace of mind.
Stay in control
At work, minimize hassle by cultivating a habit of tidiness – create rules for email folders, set up a folder structure for your ongoing work and archived items – and try to stick to it. They say it only takes 21 days to form a habit (depending on how rewarding it is and how much effort it takes), but the effort to get there can pay dividends. It’s all about banishing stress by creating an orderly environment that delivers ease of use, calm and control for you.
In terms of dialling back or moderating your personal tech use, there are a few simple tips you can try. Although they may seem difficult at first, we think they’re actually pretty achievable. Things like:
- leaving your phone at home sometimes when you go for a walk
- leaving your earbuds out occasionally and listening to the sounds of your surroundings
- stepping away from the TV one night a week and doing something productive – not a chore, but a hobby
- setting app timers to reduce daily social media exposure and noticing how you feel (or, if you’re feeling brave, uninstalling the apps from your phone and accessing them via PC only)
- enjoying experiences in the first person rather than constantly photographing or videoing them.
Be easy on yourself with these goals, but not so easy that nothing gets done! After all, it’s all about your mental health and wellbeing, so any changes you can make in your tech life to decrease stress, even on a micro level, have got to be worth it. Good luck!