It’s 4:30 on a Friday at the end of a long week. I am beginning to admit to myself that I am over-committed, despite thinking that summer was going to be more spacious. It’s exactly that type of thinking that gets me into trouble! More space? Time to fill up the ‘ole agenda with more things! So I guess it’s for my own good to blog about digital self care this month, because I need reminders, too.
(BIG THANKS to Shebani over at @shebanimal for making fabulous, original art (featured above)! I’m passionate about the intersections of visual art, databases and social justice, so I’ll be featuring artists on the blog as often as I can!)
*cue soundtrack from a pharmaceutical commercial* Has this ever happened to you? Devices blinking and buzzing. Email inundation. Hard drive sounding alarm bells. *Groan* *Sigh* It doesn’t have to be this way! Try our silver pill. Side effects will be extreme, but at least you will achieve digital serenity. Call today!
Fortunately, you don’t need to take a silver pill with horrible side effects to get closer to digital serenity – but I do have some ideas that have helped me when the notifications and tabs and follow-ups are pushing me over the edge.
For me, the antidote to this clutter and distraction is a combo of focus & prioritization. And I can use tools in my browser and on my devices to help me with that!
F11, the best kept secret
If you’re like me, you probably avoid pushing the “F” keys at the top of your keyboard. What do they even doooo???? But F11 is actually really magical. You can push it (in Chrome or Mozilla) and turn your browser tab into full-screen mode. No more flashing reminders. No more bouncing from NYT article to the Atlantic to my work inbox (or is that just me?). Just pick one thing, and really focus on it (of course, this is easier said than done, but it’s also easier done without distractions, right?). Plus, you won’t lose your tabs along the way! Try it right now while you read this blog post. When you’re ready to drop back into the noise, just hit F11 again. Home, sweet… tabs.
Course correct with Momentum Dash
During my month-long reflections on my own digital habits (leading into this series on digital self care), I noticed that I most frequently get distracted, flustered, and frustrated when I am changing tabs in my web browser. That is when I indulge in social media, news headlines, or deleting emails and next thing I know, 30 minutes have passed
First, let me be clear- I don’t want to get into the blame-and-shame game.
There is nothing wrong inherently wrong with getting distracted online. It can even be GOOD for you to zone out between periods of intense focus. You can even use that time to learn things! You are not bad for checking up on your social media. Nothing about your digital habits make you a bad person.
I downloaded Momentum as a Google Chrome extension that opens up a cute, little interface when I open a new browser tab. Every day, I can set a goal or a purpose, and Momentum reminds me of that goal before I load a new website. I can also make a mini to-do list (or integrate with Basecamp – if you’re into that sort of thing) to keep myself on track. I can even load up inspirational quotes and background images if I want to get fancy. On days where I am disciplined about typing in my goals and purpose, I find it to be a really helpful tool! [note – this is NOT a sponsored post!]
I know it’s TAB-oo but…
“Tab Overwhelm” is real. I think it’s one of the drivers that contributes to us not wanting to re-start our computers, lest we lose all of our carefully organized tabs that we PROMISE ourselves we are going to come back to. We need to talk about tab management and tab overwhelm. I promise, it doesn’t have to be this bad!
One of the first changes I made during my month of digital self care was to update my browser defaults (I use the browser Google Chrome, but you can do this in pretty much any browser). First, I changed my “Default Tabs.” Now, every time I re-start my browser or move to a different computer, Google Chrome auto-loads my personal email, my Salesforce log-in, and a new Momentum tab (or whatever else I decide). Easy!
The following week, I decided to re-organize my “bookmarks bar.” I had WAY too many bookmarks – they were starting to be not-so-helpful and hard to manage. So, I organized them into bookmark folders, including “tech support,” “work HR,” “resources and documentation,” and “personal.” Within those, I have listed the bookmark links that used to be all jumbled. I promise you, it’s made a big difference!
If you STILL have too many tabs open, you might want to try a solution like “Too Many Tabs” (Chrome) or One Tab (Chrome) or All Tabs Helper (Firefox). They may be able to help you see what you have open and prioritize which tabs are really important to you.
Last but not least, another way to deal with Tab Overwhelm is to use Pocket – an app for saving links to things you want to come back to later. I haven’t personally used it, but I know it’s very popular!
This blog post focused on things you can do to help you stay focused and engaged in your purpose while you are working online. There is SO MUCH that goes into digital self care, from self care best practices to taking care of YOU and your devices. In my next post, I’m planning to write about something we love to hate, and hate to love — yep, email! From email etiquette to runaway inboxes, we’ll dive in to some questions and best practices. Write to me if you have thoughts to share! –> email@example.com I promise, I’ll get back to you as soon as I read it. #spoileralert