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How to Reduce Work From Home Overwhelm by Hacking Your Digital Habits

Today it feels like life is a blur of constant screen time with non-stop zoom calls, emails, Insta, and news. Here are some healthy daily activities you can adapt to find some digital balance.

By Jessie Patterson - NourishX

I used to massively struggle with spending excessive time on my devices. Back then it didn’t feel possible to have time to do anything but be on my screens.

We are often so busy chasing goals that we overlook the most valuable real estate in the world. Our own mind & body. Not some fancy house or any place we aspire to live in someday. As a former real estate development executive, I used to chase the next best deals all the time. Working non-stop, glued to my devices. I was more worried about charging my phone battery than my own. But after being faced with major health challenges. I learned the hard way. Without my health, nothing else matters. This spurred me to find ways to transform my phone habits to unlock more time, energy, and health than I ever knew was possible.

I used to think I had ZERO extra time. But I was able to unlock an extra 2.5 hours a day - a whopping 38 days a year! I reclaimed time, health, and found energy and happiness levels I didn't even know possible. Just by up-leveling my phone use skills and using the phone to charge me. Instead of just draining me.

I gradually learned from many different sources, over years to optimize my phone use. I learned the hard way. So others don’t have to.

Please know it is ok to be exactly where you are right now, wherever you are in your journey. Be kind to yourself. Constant screen time and working from home is a real struggle. The average person’s day consists of bouncing between screens all freakin’ day long. The struggles are real. Juggling everything. Trying to get all the things done. While also dealing with the elevated stress levels from the current reality.

Pre 2020 we used to have built-in boundaries by leaving the office because we had actual real in-person plans. Having our routines totally interrupted took away these natural stop points to take breaks from our screens. Previously, we had plans with friends and family, or a workout class booked. We typically set our priorities during that day to honor our plans. Now we rarely leave home because we don’t have plans off our screens. So it is extremely easy to just keep working non-stop. Then when we do take a break it’s a transition from one screen to the next to indulge in some juicy binge-watching after a Zoom-filled day.

Think about how we typically set a New Year’s resolution for a goal we want to achieve. Then start out strong for a short period of time but then 80% of our New Year’s Resolution has been abandoned by Valentine’s Day. The issue isn’t because you are bad are achieving your goals, the issue is you haven’t built in the habits to achieve the desired outcome. So without the habits, you give up totally. Then stay exactly where they were before. Left feeling deflated.

This is a common cycle. I used to do this every year. Until I learned the magic of building habits. Yes magic, my friends. Once you learn how to build a habit and stick to it, life changes. Building in habits, not resolutions is key.

Often where we are and where we hope to seem so dang far apart, we end up staying in the same place because change seems so daunting. Which is how many of us are feeling right now with screen time and many of our habits acquired during 2020. Where we want to be with our daily routines currently and where we desire them to be seem so far apart. That is feels daunting to start.

But the key is to start the new habits in super small, in microsteps, with pre-planned steps, to build the habit in slowly, and then build upon. Once you have the routine down. These small microsteps are gradual and backed by the science of behavior change. By using the 4 micro-step process below you can say goodbye screen-free guilt. And hello to intentional screen-free time streaks. Ahhh sounds nice right?

1. Mindset Swaps

We make plans and commitments to everyone else and usually stick to them. When it comes to our own wellbeing, we often don’t plan ahead with the same love and commitment we share with others. You deserve to be nourished with some screen-free moments so start small. Build up. Be kind to yourself.

By prioritizing time for you, you will unlock more of your extraordinary! If you are thinking ‘I get this worked for you Jessie but will this won’t work for me?’ - I get this a lot, our minds are always trying to run away from change. Instead, swap this thinking with - I will create a system for screen-free moments because I deserve it and I can do this.

I believe in you! You deserve this! Remember to check-in with yourself and remember your intention and replacement activities you would like to be doing. Don’t let the mind talk you out of your goals. It will try. All the freakin’ time. Remember your replacement thoughts to swap in instead.

2. Set Your Intention.

Building in new daily healthy activities is a process. Start first with your intention of why you want to make a change? Do you want to feel better? What are activities you are dreaming of doing off your screens? Make a list. Knowing your intention and being clear about what you are after is key to start taking the steps to change. I am a firm believer that less is more. The more you recharge the more you have to give. Plus you will watch your productivity soar!

Start checking in by asking yourself “Is this screen time nourishing me? Is there another way I would rather be feeling? How can I start adjusting my habits and screen time to avoid screen time that drains me?” For example, do you feel energized after social media scrolls? How can you change that? Scroll for less time? Change who you are following? Answer these questions to reimagine healthy screen time and slowly rebuild new habits.

3. Create a System to Slot in your Delicious Screen-Free Moments

When can you slot in a few mins or even an hour off screen time? Tie it to an Existing Daily Habit

Then decide exactly what your replacement screen-free activity you want to be doing. Then tie the new habit you want to build to an existing habit you are already doing daily.

After a zoom meeting, I will…walk for 1-5 mins.

Before each time checking emails, I will stand up and stretch.

These tiny habits are truly where the magic happens.

Where will you place your devices during this time?

Decide exactly where you will place your phone during your screen-free times. If you can see and it’s in reach you will end up on the phone, so place it out of sight and reach.

Start small, breaking down your goal into actionable microsteps - these are tiny steps that make it too small to fail, this slowly starts to build the habit.

4. Reminder, Stack, Track & Celebrate

Set in timers, calendar invites, or use an app to track habits. Stack your new habit with something you are already doing.

The app that has helped me truly transform my habit game is Productive. This lil’ app has been a true game-changer to help me crush any new habits. If this sounds like what you need, get your customizable free guide for a step-by-step reduction in screen time.

Find a celebration that works for you to help lock the habit in. I enjoy a little happy dance or excitedly exclaim ‘I totally got this!’ Don’t overlook this important step. According to BJ Fog, an author and Behavior Scientist at Stanford University, when forming a new habit the most important skill is the ability to feel good about your behavior as you do it, or immediately after. So rock that celebration once you achieve your micro-breaks. And keep building upon them.

Digital Balance and Your Health

Digital Balance isn’t about giving up your devices. It’s about finding a unique recipe for balance that works for you. Excessive time on screens can negatively impact your emotional and mental wellbeing. Screen time can reduce your length and quality of sleep. I look at quality sleep as being a superpower. As it has such massive benefits to our health, mind, productivity, and overall wellbeing.

Screens can elevate stress levels with constant notifications from news, social media rabbit holes, sprinkled in with endless comparison, and let’s not forget endless zoom calls. A day filled with hours on social media, reading non-stop news, working non-stop, bookend by a Netflix binge is a recipe for burnout. Intuitively we know this but it’s learning to build healthy habits which takes time, our phones and devices make it so easy to get on and stay engrossed longer than we intend.

Managing your stress is key. As stress alone has been called the "health epidemic of the 21st century" by the World Health Organization. Stress has a hefty price tag which is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year.

No other goal or possession is as valuable as our health and wellbeing. But it’s easy to forget when we have so many habits that put everything else before ourselves.

When to take know when to plan for some screen free time

I think it is finding a recipe that works for you that is the most important. It’s better to get some programmed screen-free time than none at all. Start small, and building up slowly will be your recipe to success.

Your detox can look like intermittent fasting where you set in a break from the evening after dinner to the morning and build up slowly. I have built up to now being off my phone for entire weekends or weeks which was something that I previously thought was impossible.

It’s important to find a balance of what works for you. Not all screen time is equal you can go to yoga class or a workout that helps you feel energized online. Or you can binge a whole new series that makes you feel more stressed and not as rejuvenated. Be selective with what you are consuming and when. Then tapping into how you feel afterward is key to start building in more device-free time and screen time that nourishes you.

Need Some Help?

I created Digital Balance is an online course, think of it like a Netflix series that nourishes your relationship with your devices. The 5 modules provide a step-by-step system released weekly, so you can build up the skills and integrate the changes as your new habits. Then slowly build on them. You can take the course at your own pace and rewatch anytime if you need a refresher or have strayed off course.

I believe you are extraordinary and deserve to unlock the habits needed to charge you and to take you to your next level. Imagine if your phone charged you. Join me!

Everything I do is propelled by service and impact. Each time someone invests in a course with NourishX I donate 15% to one of my amazing purpose partners. I believe that in our lifetime we can provide access to quality education, clean drinking water, safe housing, and nourishing food. Let's do this together.

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