Are you spending too much time in front of the computer screen? Whether you’re a business owner with many employees or you’re a worker within a large organization, you’re probably spending most of your day in front of a computer screen (even as you’re reading this post). We work with knowledge workers every day from designers to developers to bloggers and large agencies with hundreds of clients. We know how demanding these jobs can be in terms of time and energy; and they all involve many rigorous hours in front of a computer screen.
The skyrocketing stress levels and general well-being of knowledge workers is becoming an ever more present concern in the new digital economy. Specifically, more time spent in front of computer screens, as mentioned in a recent post on the Study Hacks blog, has been demonstrated to increase worker burnout.
Too Much Time in Front of the Computer Screen?
It seems impossible to break away from emails and instant messaging systems. We rely on these systems to get our daily work done. But is there a downside to all that busyness and productivity? Excessive screen time is known to increase the likelihood of worker burnout in the medical field, and similar symptoms can be seen among knowledge workers in general.
A possible cause for this dilemma seems to be an ever increasing reliance on digital systems for record-keeping, creative work, and communication in general. Email and instant messaging platforms are ubiquitous in the modern digital economy. Likewise, complicated software interfaces designed for workers to perform basic tasks are a necessary fixture (we’re not going back to pen and paper systems). How could we possible do without all the extra screen time these systems demand?
Avoiding Burnout in the Digital Economy
Thankfully, the topic of avoiding burnout without throwing away your computer is of growing interest to business leaders and the general public alike. New guidelines for success and longevity appear to be having an effect.
Adopt a Block Scheduling Philosophy
It’s time to pull out your day planner. Yes, a paper one would be best (we’re trying to limit screen time). But, if you already use a digital planner that’s ok too. At the beginning of each day, or the evening before, make a plan for each hour of your day. Be sure to set a finite cut-off time after which you’re free to enjoy leisure activities like taking a long walk, going to the gym, seeing a movie, spending time with your family, reading a book, or whatever you’d like to do that does not involve a computer screen.
What if I like to play video games in my spare time? That involves a screen. It sure does, but if you’ve adopted the other techniques mentioned in this article you will have eliminated unnecessary screen time from your work day and thus can enjoy more leisurely screen time in your off-work hours.
Limit Social Media Exposure
But don’t you need social media presence to succeed in the digital economy?
If you have a well-developed social media presence, you should be scheduling posts in advance using systems like Sprout Social. The regularity and quality of your content is what moves the needle for your business, not the amount of hours you spend surfing through various media channels. And it’s more difficult to produce quality content without a lot of time and focus.
Scheduling posts in advance means you can engage with your followers and have more time to work on the important tasks that demand your full attention.
Our WordPress Hosting plans come with a free Jetpack personal plan subscription, which allows you to not only schedule blog posts but also sync them up with your various social media accounts, so you can do all your serious content work right from within WordPress.
Ask yourself if the time you’re spending scanning through social media is making you more productive in your day or allowing you to create more quality content. Social media may actually be hindering you by encouraging procrastination.
If social media scanning is important to your work, schedule the time you need for it on your block schedule and leave it there. Remember you can trade idle screen time for leisurely screen time later (like video games or Netflix).
Take Regularly Scheduled Breaks
If time and your day allows for it, take advantage of any opportunities you have to get up from your desk, stretch out, or take a walk. You could even take a walk with a coworker to make it more productive.
A break from a difficult task can help clarify the issues you’re working on and even help you find new and creative solutions. This can be especially helpful for designers and/or developers who often require creative strategies to test and further their abilities. Knowledge work in virtually any capacity can benefit from a few unbroken moments of contemplation in an otherwise hectic day.
It’s never too early or late to practice some of the techniques mentioned in this article. Take your time seriously by intentionally scheduling it out in blocks. You may find some tasks rise to the top while others seem less important. This emphasis on priority will make certain you’re moving on projects with purpose and focus and also avoiding burnout.