10 March 2018

Detaching From the Digital World of Work

As a student in the 21st century, I can say that the majority of my school work involves me using my laptop. Alongside that, I'm a blogger; I basically can't live without my laptop. Once upon a time, people used the expression "chained to their desk" - now the same can be said for most of us who are glued to our devices.

Today, we are so digitally connected that it’s hard to switch off from checking our emails and social media notifications, even when we should be relaxing for the night or doing something fun with family or friends. There is so much more to life than work and social media (even if that's what we enjoy) and so much happiness to be squeezed out of life, yet for some of us, we simply don’t seem to be able to find the time to fully switch off, disconnect and enjoy our lives.

Personally, being the perfectionist that I am, I find it so hard to stop and take time out from school work and blogging if there are still tasks that I could be doing. Instead of being confined to working hours, the boundaries between school and relaxing have been blurred and I now go to bed with my laptop, finishing homework at midnight that is due first thing in the morning.

The truth is, we need to make time for more fun stuff outside of this digital world; whether this is charity fundraising events or simply spending more time with loved family and friends. Last year, I took part in a summer programme called NCS: four weeks of adventuring, meeting new people and raising money for charity. It was the perfect way to detach from the world of work.  That said, in order to have the headspace to be able to detach ourselves, we need to make sure we are being productive at work - which is where these three productivity tips come in handy.

1. Organise your time!

The convenience of online working and studying should mean that we have much more time to enjoy our lives. Instead, we spend far too much time depending on work timetables and just trying to fit the rest of our lives in - yet it doesn’t have to be that way. A good planning system can save us so much time… a lot of "time management" comes down to first planning our tasks so that we can keep on top of things with ease.

2.  Work When You Work!

A key tip that would help us all is to follow the idea suggested by Brian Tracy (a pre-eminent time management expert) to work when you work and rest when you rest, meaning if we are sitting down to work, we are in a totally distraction-free environment. That means no multitasking and having the TV on in the background or even dropping in and out of conversations with family or friends. By fully working when we work, we can reduce the amount of time we are needing to work - and we will also get the added benefit of being able to fully rest when we rest.

3.  The Pareto Principle

A principle that I'm constantly working towards trying to follow is the Pareto Principle - also known as the 80/20 rule. It suggests that 20% of our activities account for 80% of the outcome.  In simple terms, we want to be focusing on the tasks that have the greatest impact and making sure that these get done first. It's so easy to get lost in the small tasks that create a lot of "busyness" in our lives and detract from the time we need to manage our "business".

I find that the best way to determine what my most valuable tasks are is by writing out a list of all my tasks for the day, week, or month and then determining which tasks are going to create the greatest impact; I have to make sure that I focus on these tasks above all else.  This time management principle is applicable to so many of us from students to executives with busy lives.

In summary, we need to find more time for fun; if you’re not having fun then what’s the point? We need to remember to block out some time each week which is reserved purely for pleasure; whether that’s spending time with family, friends, or even alone… just make it a priority to find the time for more fun in our lives.

How do you manage your time in order to have 'free time'?