We’re living in a fast-paced, technology-centered world, and that can take a toll on your productivity and performance. Use these tactics to minimize the pain associated with cyber-overload—and prevent total burnout:
- Limit multitasking and task switching. If you want to do something and do it well, find time during the day when you can focus on that one thing.
- List your drop-everything contacts. Determine the small number of people who must be able to reach you no matter what, and find a different way for them to contact you than everyone else. That way they reach you without your having to stay on call for everyone who wants your attention.
- Focus on your work. Ignore digital distractions until it’s time for a break. Every time you’re distracted, you’re going to take a step backward. Resist the urge to check online for the latest news, sports and gossip. Make checking the ball scores or whatever a reward after you have completed something.
- Know when to take a break. If you find yourself up to your eyeballs in data and can’t see the forest for the trees, take a break and come back later. Don’t feel guilty: Recognize that you’re enhancing your brain’s capability.
- Choose breaks that promote creativity. Opt for low-information breaks, which don’t add to the overload that you’re experiencing. Exercise is a good option. Just walking around in your office or going up and down the stairs will be enough to refresh your brain and lead you to make that next move. Walk in a park and you will enjoy the benefits of nature too.
- Be the grasshopper and the ant. Despite the lesson from the ancient fable, you shouldn’t be a workaholic. Breaks are important. If you keep your nose to the grindstone, you’ll never see the bigger picture. You will be less likely to make a creative connection. An unstressed mind can work for you 24/7, even when you don’t think you’re working. Alternate between intense focus and relaxation. If you intensely focus and then relax, you receive the best from your brain, and then your brain is restored. People with balance in their lives don’t need to work as many hours as workaholics, because their brains work more efficiently and effectively.
— Adapted from So You Think You Can Multitask: Making the Most of Your Time and Your Talent in the Internet Age Special Report, Practical Business Training, http://www.practicalbusinesstraining.com.