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Digital wellbeing

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Switch off or burn out

Thanks to technology making our work or studies just a click away, it’s easy to forget the importance of a work/life balance and the need to effectively manage our workload.

Four tips for switching off

Here are some useful features, tools and tips that can help you to address your work/life balance:

Do not disturb
Turn off alerts

Getting alerts at all times of the day can be stressful and distracting. You can use the Do not disturb function on your Apple or Android device to switch off alerts from all apps. If you want to manage this on an app by app basis then you can do this in the settings.

Taking a note
Make a quick note

When you have an idea or remember something you need to do, note it down somewhere to look at later. You could use a non-tech method like a post-it or notepad or a tech solution like Google Keep. The Keep mobile app has voice recognition: you can speak the idea into your phone and it’ll take a written note that can be picked up later.

No phones
No phones rule

Identify time when you won’t look at your phone. You might find it useful to have no phones in the bedroom so you can go to sleep and wake up without the distraction of technology, or no phones at dinnertime to encourage interactions with family or housemates.

Clock
15' rule

When you get home, for the first 15 minutes do something to take your mind off work and make you happy! If straight after getting home doesn’t work for you, pick a different time that does. This is a technique picked up from readings of positive psychology and mindfulness. The Action for Happiness website provides useful tips and activities that you could consider using for your 15 minutes.

We've put together a free online course all about Digital wellbeing:

Digital Wellbeing: a free online course
Digital Wellbeing
a free online course

Technological design

Technology doesn't just appear out of nowhere: it has been designed. Humans have made choices about how technology looks and works, from your devices to the applications and websites you use on them.

The motivations behind technological design can vary. Advertising is a common way of making money for technology companies, so many apps and websites are designed to keep you on that platform and seeing adverts. These companies are often in competition with each other, so they are competing in what Tristan Harris terms the "race for our attention".

A pop box asking if you're sure you want to leave

So, what can you do to help your own digital wellbeing when technology companies want you to keep using technology?

  • Think critically about technology. Take a metaphorical step back and consider what the platform is designed for, how you want to use it, and how the company who made it might want you to use it. Do those aims match up?
  • Set yourself boundaries. If websites and apps want you to stay on them, they'll make it harder to leave or to miss out. Limit your time on apps and websites if you find yourself on them too much, or try only accessing them on one device.
  • Define how you'll use each piece of technology and stick to it. Maybe don't use your phone for work things, or only use that social network for keeping up to date with developments in your field.
  • And finally, don't just accept technology has to be like this. If everyone questions why technology is designed the way it is, we might be able to influence change, and ensure technology is designed better!

Do Not Disturb

Sleepy cat

Do Not Disturb door hangers are common-place in hotels; we stick them on the door handle when we don't want staff to come in and interrupt whatever it is we're doing. And we can do the same with our electronic devices now too, to stop incoming notifications, announcements and calls. Below, you will find advice on how to make use of these features on several different operating systems:

Windows

Focus assist allows you to choose which notifications you see. You can have Focus assist turned off and get every notification from your apps and contacts; or you can select priority only to receive notifications from a customised priority list; or you can hide all notifications except for alarms. You can also go to the Notifications & actions settings page to personalise notifications even further.

MacOS

There are a number of settings on a Mac to configure notifications. Turning on Do Not Disturb allows you to stop notifications altogether or just for a specified time range. You can also stop notifications when you're projecting the screen.

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Android

Android also allows you to silence your device with Do Not Disturb. This can be quickly turned on by swiping down from the top of your screen and then tap Do Not Disturb. You also set time rules to automatically turn on Do Not Disturb at certain times.

iOS

You can turn on Do Not Disturb on iPhones and iPads by going to settings and going to the Control Center. Both options allow you create a schedule if you don’t want to receive any notifications and be disturbed at a certain time

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