Well-Being//

10 Small but Effective Ways to Combat Digital Fatigue

In-the-moment tips to help you connect and collaborate without reaching digital burnout.

Girts Ragelis/ Shutterstock
Girts Ragelis/ Shutterstock

It’s become clear that the new world of work will require a hybrid model, which means our digital meetings are here to stay. Since so many of us will continue to use video conferencing to brainstorm with colleagues, keep in touch with family members, and collaborate with those we’re not seeing in person, it’s important that we arm ourselves with tools to combat digital fatigue so we can stay connected and efficient.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us their go-to Microsteps for avoiding digital fatigue. Which of these tips will you try?

Declutter your inbox

“One Microstep that has helped me combat digital fatigue is better managing my emails. I make sure to unsubscribe from any email lists I don’t read, ensure that I make it clear that I am not interested in receiving marketing emails when making purchases online, and delete all emails daily that I don’t need to revisit. This one Microstep has significantly removed digital fatigue for me, as rummaging through emails when they pile up is a chore that ends up stressing me out.”

—Dr. Nadine Collins, spiritual wellness coach, speaker, and author, Atlanta, GA 

Block time on your calendar for your breaks

“I make sure that my calendar is blocked for the first 30 minutes and last hour of each day, making sure I have time to prepare myself for the day ahead. I also make time on my calendar for stretch breaks, time to recharge in between meetings, and lunch breaks to enjoy outside. This ensures zero digital interference while eating!” 

—Amanda Devlugt, virtual production, Memphis, TN

Try the Pomodoro method

“I take regular screen breaks by using the Pomodoro method. The premise of this productivity method is to work intensively on one project for 25 minutes and then break for five. I choose my screen-based task, set my time, and as soon as the 25 minutes is up, I step away from the screen. My go-to activities during the break are usually breathwork, meditation, or simply making a  cup of green tea. These little breaks are key to restoring my energy, improving my concentration, and boosting my productivity.”

—Charlotte Swire, wellness practitioner, Manchester, UK

Take your meetings outside

“I live in a warm and sunny climate, so I do at least one Zoom call each week while sitting out on my deck. This way, I’m soaking in some vitamin D while conducting business. I limit most of my digital gatherings to 30 minutes and attempt to pace them. Plus, now that I’m vaccinated, I’ve added in at least one socially distanced in-person meeting each week, so I don’t lose my live communication edge.”

—Nancy A Shenker, marketing consultant, Scottsdale, AZ

Turn your camera off

“Knowing that many of my conversations and work that I do will be conducted through virtual meetings, I no longer require our team to keep cameras on during calls. This allows me to focus more on the conversation and the content, and really listen. I try to make the most of our time. Taking away the urge to look at the camera or get distracted by what is going on in someone’s background really allows me to focus and be efficient not only with my time but everyone else’s as well. And to make up for a lack of on camera time, I like to join calls early to chat with folks on a personal level prior to kicking off the meeting.”

—Suzanne Schnaars, engineer, Waldwick, NJ

Carve out small movement breaks

“I find that taking mini breaks throughout the day to move is key. Whether it be for a quick stretch, a change in sitting or standing positions, or simply to grab a glass of water, conscious and consistent movement has been so important during all of my concentrated screen time. Sometimes a simple shift of my desk and chair can completely change the energy of a call. It’s a small but significant tactic that’s good for my mind and my body.”

—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, management and change consultant, France

Schedule one tech-free hour each day

“I have started implementing a ‘zero social media hour’ into my day, where I don’t make use of any of the social media apps on my phone and try to stay away from tech entirely. I keep my phone on Do Not Disturb mode for that time and try to do something else. I either read, meditate, exercise, or do any creative activity that comes to mind. This pause helps keep me healthy and avoid digital fatigue.” 

—V Rashmi Rao, content writer, Hyderabad, India

Implement the 50-50 rule

“After every 50 minutes spent in front of my computer screen, I go to my window and stare outside at a certain point 50 feet away, and rotate my neck and eyes to take in the panorama view. Then, I take a few around the room, drink half a glass of water, and then resume my meetings.”

—Anitha Balaraj, executive coach, Chennai, India

Divide your tasks into batches

“Batching tasks is a new approach to workload management that I adopted in 2020. I began grouping similar things together, which allowed me to cut down on the number of programs I needed to have open at one time. It has proven to help my efficiency and I am more comfortable focusing on that priority without letting myself be distracted by email and phone calls.”

—Janna Cummins, integrated marketing strategist, Portland, ME

Set screen time limits

“I started limiting my screen time on my phone to help combat fatigue. Under settings, there is a feature called ‘Screen Time,’ where you can activate it and choose your times where you apps go to sleep for the night. Mine is set from 9:00 pm to 07:00 am. I keep my texts on and let family know they could reach me if they need me urgently during this time. If you do need an app, you can click on it and choose to wake it up for a certain amount of time before it goes back to sleep. So, it isn’t permanently out of your reach but it does make you think twice before you check the urgency of peoples’ needs, and it’s a huge barrier to mindless scrolling. It’s worked wonders for me.”

—Rochelle Jane, customer service and Twitter channel manager, Cape Town, SA

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