Small Business Resources

Undergo a digital detox to improve your small businesses productivity


5 min read

This is for everyone. We all need to unplug before we do ourselves a mischief.

Mobile communication technology has changed human culture forever, and certainly transfigured the workplace. We will forever be connected.

Now we know that this can be a great boon for small business, with email, social, mobile internet, apps and various permutations thereof having become a wildly important part of modern business.

However, it has most certainly gone so far now that focus, deep work, monotasking and generally being in the work zone have suffered greatly. In fact,

“The average Australian checks 40 websites a day, switching activities 37 times an hour, changing tasks every two minutes.”

The cure to this productivity destruction largely born from distractions and multitasking? A digital detox. Benefits of a digital detox include:

  • Far more productivity
  • A more content and peaceful business life
  • Healthier relationships
  • Mental health benefits
  • More time for important things

 

Set yourself up for success

Depending on who you are and how often your fingers slip into your pocket or purse to grasp your phone, a digital detox will be difficult. You will have to fight ingrained habits topped with the dopamine released when you receive a message or a like.

You may even discover you have what could very well be termed an addiction. So don’t set yourself up for failure, be kind to yourself and plan ahead. This can truly be a bit like giving up smoking for some.

So if you are planning a much deeper detox to renew focus on your business and workday, start slow and make it easy. Some tips to start your detox slowly include:

  • No screens before bed
  • One screen at a time
  • Turn off push notifications
  • Use aeroplane mode when busy
  • No scrolling without purpose

 

Detox your work day

Now you are getting used to detoxing, try ramping it up and pushing it through your work days only.

A schedule is your friend.

Your work day is when you should be in the zone, concentrating on important tasks one at a time and allowing space for the unexpected. You should be aiming for a scheduled work day which has a specific purpose with specific goals.

The enemy to all of your productivity is the distraction. The most available distraction is almost always digital and almost always within your control.

We know removing all digital distractions is unreasonable so be sure to simply schedule this in. insert a half hour slot or two into your day where you are allowed to indulge. Be strict with yourself!

When you have scheduled deep work time, however you should have your phone nowhere near you. Maybe even in the next room, but certainly in a drawer and out of sight. After all, out of sight, out mind.

Let’s look at specific tactics to get you concentrating on that important tender, client, marketing plan or whatever it is you should be doing to improve your business’ chance of success.

Social media

With social media, you should have a separation between work and personal and you may choose to keep work notifications on if your job is tied heavily to being reactive.

For most – you need to mute notifications and stop all push notifications. These are the true enemy!

For many people the dopamine activating ‘ding’ of a post is enough to have them reaching for the phone without hesitation. This dominates our lives and destroys focus and chews through time when we should be in the zone working. So you really need to stop notifications until your work day is done.

“Recent research has unearthed that Australians spend an average of 1 hour and 39 minutes each day on social media.“

Think what else you could have achieved. Think of the lost focus. Think of the distracted thinking. Think of the lost productivity.

Email and business messaging

Email and business communication products like Yammer and Slack are usually a more important and business-centric so complete abstinence is unreasonable. Business does get done here.

That doesn’t make you its slave though. You still have control and need to exercise it.

As with many points here, a schedule is key! You should be literally putting email checking time into your daily calendar. Really.

Try slating and allowing notifications for say an 8am session, a midday session and a 4pm session. This way you won’t be missing anything vital for your business but you will be relaxed in your ability to focus and monotask the important stuff.

One idea is to set your email to be ‘out of office’ in those ‘zone’ hours so people are aware it will take a little while until you respond. This alleviates hot heads who expect lightning fast replies.

Browsers

Ok now to deal with the dreaded browser tab salad.

You would usually undertake ‘proper’ work on a laptop, PC or tablet. In this way, your web browser can become the enemy while your phone is silent and out of reach.

As you read this, count how many tabs and windows you have open. It’s a lot huh? No wonder you get stressed and confused through the day. No wonder your concentration and productivity is compromised. Your mind is everywhere at once.

Get into the habit of only having one browser open at a time. This is harder than it sounds. You should have one tab only and it should be directly related to your chosen business task. Anything else open is bound to distract, so don’t do that to yourself. You can read the news on the train home. It’s time to get things done.

At the end of the day you don’t need to pull the plug entirely, you just need to know you have the power to pull it and the discipline to know when that time comes. If you want to be truly in the zone and doing your best work – detoxing your digital life is a step worth taking and will pay dividends in productivity. Go on, give it a go.

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