How to Practice Digital Wellness While Working from Home
I’m sure “digital wellness” may be a new term you need to add to your life and how you work because it is becoming increasingly important.
Technology is so integrated into our lives that we now need to talk about maintaining a sense of well-being and our digital reality.
Defining Wellness In Your Online and Offline Lives
We take care of our BODY and physical health with exercise, diet and sleep. We take care of our MIND and mental health by addressing our emotional and behavioural needs. We nourish our SOUL and spiritual health by practicing our religious faith, beliefs, values, ethics, principles, and morals. But how do we address these online in a digitally connected reality?
DIGITAL WELLNESS is missing in our health and wellness endeavours. I am speaking on a panel for Digital Wellness Day on May 6th, 2022, and I’m excited to teach you how to practice digital wellness while working from home and how to find balance if you’re feeling askew.
Here are the facts
- On average, adults spend 11 hours a day staring at some kind of screen. (The Total Audience Report, 2016)
- We receive, on average, 60–85 notifications a day. (Nick Fitz, Duke University, 2018)
- We now spend an average of a day a week online. (Digital Future Project, 2017)
- We’re on social media for approximately 2hrs 48min every day. (Digital Global Statshot Report, 2020)
- 47% of adults lost sleep due to internet usage (Ofcom, 2016)
These numbers overlap: we have become obsessed with multitasking with our tech in our daily lives and as we work from home. We watch TV while checking Instagram, we shop online while in our Zoom meeting, and we check our emails while catching up with our friends on the phone.
I will teach you digital wellness while working from home.
Tech can be an ally that fuels us rather than fatiguing us. When managed with wellness in mind, tech will feel like a benevolent force in our lives.
Digital Wellness Principles:
- Digital Habits — Manage your habits, not your tech
- Digital Boundaries — Aim for enough (not burn out)
- Digital Distancing — Celebrate JOMO, not FOMO
1. Manage your habits, not your tech
Create DIGITAL HABITS that support small decisions and actions to create habits that help our desired outcomes.
Desmond Tutu wisely said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” He meant that everything in life seems daunting, overwhelming, and even impossible to accomplish gradually by taking on just a little at a time.
The same can be said when managing your digital habits as you work from home. How we set our habits has everything to do with who we want to “BE” as we work from home.
We have begun to change our habits by focusing on what we need to achieve the desired outcome. Unfortunately, this leads us to outcome-based habits that let us down and make us feel utter failures. James Clear challenges us to build identity-based habits in his book Atomic Habits.
We start by focusing on who we wish to become:
- Identity: Who do you want to become as you work from home?
- Small Win: Prove it with your habits.
Digital Habits in Practice
Identity: Want to be less distracted while you work?
Small win: Break the cycle of responsiveness- set hard boundaries for work hours like putting your phone away or turning off notifications and times for deep work blocks
Identity: Want better time management while working from home?
Small win: Timeboxing periods to work on distinct tasks each day in your calendar for both personal and professional responsibilities
Identity: Want to be able to log off at the end of the workday?
Small win: Start of day & End of day Routine. Have cues that enforce the start or end of day routines. For example, start the beginning of the day by prioritizing timeboxed tasks in your calendar. Next, add a cue to end the workday by writing down a list of achievements for that day and what can be added to the priority list for the next day. Finally, log off and turn off notifications after completing the ritual.
2. Aim for enough (not burn out)
Establish DIGITAL BOUNDARIES to eliminate distractions and protect your deep work.
Today’s teams are more productive in our homes than we were in the office. This suggests we value the flexibility that comes with it, such as setting work schedules that suit each team member individually.
However, many of us struggle with flexibility because we spend more time logged on — but it doesn’t necessarily indicate we’re getting more done. We have digital boundaries to create friction points to reduce distraction and promote deep, productive work.
Digital Boundaries in Practice
Reflect on these questions to help establish your digital boundaries as you work from home.
- Golden hours — Important and urgent tasks. Identify your productive and deep working hours and keep them sacred for reporting, writing, creating, training, etc.
- In the Black — Important but not urgent tasks. These tasks need to get done like responding to email, checking team messages, changing the laundry, cooking dinner for the family, etc.
- Seeing Red — Take a break. Know when to rest and recharge in your day. Honour and take your breaks away from your desk by taking a brisk walk, eye exercises, yoga stretches, etc.)
3. Celebrate JOMO, not FOMO
Embracing the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) allows you to apply digital distancing to support rest and recharging. The joy of Missing Out is a feeling of contentment with one’s own pursuits and activities without worrying over the possibility of missing out on what others may be doing. The opposite of JOMO is FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out, and it can cause anxiety often experienced by content seen on social media and online.
In the workplace, FOMO can be described as an Always-on Culture, a feeling of needing to be constantly connected or networked, even when an actual need is absent from work. So naturally, this causes digital distress and burnout.
Where do your burnout and digital distress come from?
Is it from checking social media, texts, email or messages?
Unfortunately, not all tech use is created equal. For example, there are times that our digital devices help us to connect with loved ones and order our food while we work or work from home.
However, many of us are so distracted and unproductive while working from home, especially with kids, spouses, and other fun to distract us. Adversely, sometimes we need to log off, but there’s always just one more thing to do. As a result, our work schedules can inadvertently cause burnout because we are unable to meet expectations for work output and deliverables.
Working from home does not mean you are always working.
Working from home should not consume your life, and that is the main challenge that people face when we can not digitally distance ourselves from our work. The goal is to create distance with your tech usage while working and not working, allowing you to have activities that will enable more Joy of Missing Out (JOMO)
Digital Distance in Practice
HEAD: Distance to understand your inner thoughts
Practice mindfulness. Give yourself three mindful minutes every day to check in with your thoughts at the begging or end of your workday.
- Pay attention to your thoughts
- Be alone with your thoughts
- Quiet your thoughts
HEART: Distance to feel all the feels
Practice gratitude. Taking time to note all things one can be thankful for helps us focus on what ‘is’ rather than what ‘could be.
- Affirm your authentic self
- Journaling your feelings
- Share your feelings
FEET: Distance to escape the desk
Practice movement. Find your movement and activity that make you want to #escapethedesk.
- Yoga and deep stretches
- Brisk walks, runs & hikes
- Team sports (basketball, hockey, tennis, etc.)
The future of how we work has changed, and it has given us the need to prioritize our digital wellness, primarily how we work from home. We need to reflect on these changes and how they impact our work/life balance as technology has expedited our tech usage in all aspects of our lives.
The problem is that working from home should not mean we are working more and losing time for what matters most in our lines- our friends, family, and ourselves. Now, the time is to make better digital habits, boundaries, and distance to help us and those we work with us adjust to this new way of life.
These rules are just a start, trial them, adapt them and the way you work. Take what you need from this article and find what works for you. The more we all talk about digital wellness as we work from home, the faster we will find a life/work balance.
Thanks for reading!
Be Well & Work Well