This time last year, "Zoom Fatigue" was a little-known phrase. Fast-forward a year and it has become a universally understood phenomenon. The rapid shift to remote work and learning has caused us to become more reliant on technology than ever before, with many people spending over half the day on connected devices. Research has found that a third of people find unplugging after work is the most significant challenge of working remotely.
However, the dawn of 2021 presents us with a great opportunity not only to think about how to set fearlessly positive resolutions in the midst of uncertainty, but also how to take stock of and change our daily habits. If we are going to be in front of screens for a significant period of time, it's crucial that we are using this time well and with intentionality.
It is possible for technology to transform health and wellbeing for the better, if we are intentional about using it. The confluence of the technological and cognitive revolutions gives us a unique opportunity to track information related to our health, productivity, well-being, and overall happiness and then use that data to strive towards our full potential. It's part of the continuous learning and self-improvement cycle, which many individuals are leveraging to upskill or reskill to propel their careers forward.
As a business leader, nurturing digital wellness within your company is one of the most important things you can do this year. As our new Digital Wellness e-book explains, a positive digital culture can raise productivity and engagement rates, improve retention and recruitment, deepen employee and customer loyalty, and increase employee well-being overall.
That being said, digital wellness does not mean taking a hiatus from technology (that would not even be an option for many, given the demands of our current world); instead, it means rethinking when, where, why, and how we are using technology—and to what end. Our goal instead should be to use technology for its best and highest purposes, namely, to fuel our long-term success and happiness. And there is a multitude of resources to help you do that.
Tech to make us intentional - from morning to night
Below I have set some of the top apps and gadgets that have helped me become my most productive self, ordered from first thing in the morning to late at night. While of course these may not be for everyone, they can help increase wellbeing and productivity for both individuals and teams:
Zinnia: The Zinnia app is great for creating custom schedules that fit with your lifestyle and personality. I actually use Zinnia to create schedules where I can leverage “timeboxing,” an approach coined by Nir Eyal in his brilliant book Indistracable, where you actually box off every minute of the day to make sure that you actually make time for the things that matter most. In the past, I used to only block off time on my calendar for meetings and then I would try to fit everything else into my “free time.” Not surprisingly, self-care and personal goals would fall to the bottom of my life. Instead, Nir encourages individuals to plan out or “box off” every minute of the day so that you don’t get swept up by distraction or the tyranny of the urgent.
Momentum Dash – Momentum Dash is a Google Chrome extension with one simple purpose: to prompt you to set your intention when you start your day. This elegantly simply tool provides an almost invisible layer to workday, but keeps you focused on what matters most. I love starting my workday by pausing to think about my intention before I dive into my to-do list.
Thinkers Notebook – This regular notebook also has pages that can be to be autoscanned and tracked. While I enjoy journaling by hand, I always risk getting lost and distracted by too much paper, so this notebook helps me keep tabs.
Forest App – The longer the user is focused on a task in hand, a little seedling grows into a forest via this app. A word of caution – this can err on the border of being distracting, so this is really up to personal preference. As detailed in my first blog, a recent study found that the mere presence of a device reduces cognitive capacity, so I would always advise moving your phone away whilst working to maximize productivity.
Habitify – This helps to track goals - whether work or personal – with fun gamified check boxes to keep them top of mind.
Fitbit – Of course everyone has heard of Fitbit, but what I love is that you can access a family fitness challenge on the premium version, to compete against family, friends, or colleagues. Personally, this added social aspect has really helped me stick to fitness goals.
OuraRing – Moving into the evening you can wear this ring to study and improve sleep over time.
ByLoftie – This alarm clock is designed to leave you more refreshed. When you go to bed it emits soothing sounds and when you wake up it uses light rather than a jarring alarm. It fades into the background, meaning your phone can be left in the kitchen while you sleep.
Don't be afraid of technology
Can technology be distracting? Absolutely. But don’t be scared off from its value in supporting your personal development. Instead, use tech tools with intention—selecting one or maybe two tools that bolster your offline efforts to reach your potential. At the end of the day, remember: technology should always serve you, not the other way around; so use only what you need.