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“You Must Stay Offline To Read This” Offers You A Peaceful Place to Stay Focus and Read

“You Must Stay Offline To Read This” Offers You A Peaceful Place to Stay Focus and Read

Keeping up with a constant onslaught of notifications and texts is exhausting. We live in an age in which our phones have the same functionality as our computers. People can reach out to us 24/7.

The constant disruptions are overwhelming. Even when I am able to put aside email and turn off my notifications, I still get distracted. Looking up a piece of information can result in a 45-minute trip down the internet rabbit hole. Sitting still and staying focused for even ten minutes can seem like a Herculean feat. It can be hard to concentrate and consume meaningful content when we have so much content at our fingertips.

Not only does this constant wave of distraction feel terrible–it’s bad for us. When our attention becomes divided by the busy online world, we have trouble forming memories and thinking deeply.[1] We’re actually reprogramming our brains to perform on a shallow level by jumping from notification to notification.

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It’s time to unplug

Even though we live in a world in which you’re more likely to see people staring at their cellphones than interacting with one another, it’s possible to read offline. There’s no law that says that you must frantically scroll through social media when you’re waiting for your friends, standing in line at the grocery store, or hanging out at the bus stop.

Before smartphones became popular, we used to live offline most of the time. It’s still possible to do this–even with technology in our pockets. Many apps that you love already include offline functions so that you don’t have to use data or be connected to Wifi.

If you need further proof that reading from sites offline is the way to go, check out Chris Bolin’s Offline Only page. A friend sent the link to me, and I was immediately intrigued. When you go to the site, you’ll see the screen below.

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    It’s worth taking a look at what Mr. Bolin has to say about reading offline. The post will take you about two minutes to read, but it can transform your relationship with the internet. You can use this site to make unplugging a habit instead of just a novelty.

    Going offline promotes inner peace

    I didn’t realize how frazzled I felt all the time until Offline Only forced me to disconnect. For two solid minutes, I was focused on the words in front of me. I didn’t nervously click to other tabs or jump to notifications. I simply took in the words and felt my mind relax.

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    Being forced to unplug helped me connect to the present moment. This brief window of mindfulness helped me recognize that I needed to change the way I interacted with the internet.

    It was so satisfying to be able to step away from all the static of modern life and allow myself commit my attention fully to one thing. We are all capable of doing this. Even those of us who stay online for work can benefit from stepping away from the internet once in a while.

    Use the concept of going offline in other aspects of your life

    Unplugging from technology can radically change the way that you experience life. When you make the conscious choice to silence your phone and stop answering emails after hours, you give yourself the gift of the present.

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    I’ll admit that I get frustrated when I see a group of friends or a family at lunch together spending more time looking at their phones than talking to each other. Whenever you allow a notification to disrupt an in-person conversation, you send the other person the message that the notification is more important than they are. You miss out on the possibilities that come with being in the moment.

    Our personal relationships and our work benefit from taking time away from the internet. The more often you use sites like Offline Only to practice focus, the more you strengthen neural pathways in your brain related to concentration. You can undo the damage of years of mindless internet-surfing by adjusting to a lifestyle which revolves more around the quality of your attention than the quantity of items you view online in a day.

    Every distraction costs you time that you can’t get back

    A recent study found that the average worker gets interrupted once every three minutes and five seconds. A person can lose an astonishing 6.2 hours of productivity to the process of being interrupted, working to refocus, correcting errors from disruptions, and battling exhaustion from being so distracted.[2] Many of these disruptions are likely the result of unnecessary notifications that you can easily switch off.

    Don’t squander the here and now through mindless scrolling. Practice focusing every day. Build the habit of being mindful and unplugging with Offline Only, and you’ll be amazed at how much your work and relationships will improve.

    Reference

    More by this author

    Brian Lee

    Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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    Last Updated on July 13, 2020

    How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

    How Not to Feel Overwhelmed at Work & Take Control of Your Day

    Overwhelm is a pernicious state largely caused by the ever-increasing demands on our time and the distractions that exist all around us. It creeps up on us and can, in its extreme form, leave us feeling anxious, stressed and exhausted.

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, here are 6 strategies you can follow that will reduce the feeling of overwhelm; leaving you calmer, in control and a lot less stressed.

    1. Write Everything down to Offload Your Mind

    The first thing you can do when you begin to feel overwhelmed is to write everything down that is on your mind.

    Often people just write down all the things they think they have to do. This does help, but a more effective way to reduce overwhelm is to also write down everything that’s on your mind.

    For example, you may have had an argument with your colleague or a loved one. If it’s on your mind write it down. A good way to do this is to draw a line down the middle of the page and title one section “things to do” and the other “what’s on my mind”.

    The act of writing all this down and getting it out of your head will begin the process of removing your feeling of overwhelm. Writing things down can really change your life.

    2. Decide How Long It Will Take to Complete Your To-Dos

    Once you have ‘emptied your head,’ go through your list and estimate how long it will take to complete each to-do.

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    As you go through your list, you will find quite a few to-dos will only take you five or ten minutes. Others will take longer, often up to several hours.

    Do not worry about that at this stage. Just focus on estimating how long you will need to complete each task to the best of your ability. Here’s How to Cultivate a More Meaningful To Do List.

    3. Take Advantage of Parkinson’s Law

    Now here’s a little trick I learned a long time ago. Parkinson’s Law states that work will fill the time you have available to complete it, and us humans are terrible at estimating how long something will take:((Odhable: Genesis of Parkinson’s Law))

      This is why many people are always late. They think it will only take them thirty minutes to drive across town when previous experience has taught them it usually takes forty-five minutes to do so because traffic is often bad but they stick to the belief it will only take thirty minutes. It’s more wishful thinking than good judgment.

      We can use Parkinson’s Law to our advantage. If you have estimated that to write five emails that desperately need a reply to be ninety minutes, then reduce it down to one hour. Likewise, if you have estimated it will take you three hours to prepare your upcoming presentation, reduce it down to two hours.

      Reducing the time you estimate something will take gives you two advantages. The first is you get your work done quicker, obviously. The second is you put yourself under a little time pressure and in doing so you reduce the likelihood you will be distracted or allow yourself to procrastinate.

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      When we overestimate how long something will take, subconsciously our brains know we have plenty of time and so it plays tricks on us and we end up checking reviews of the Apple Watch 4 or allow our colleagues to interrupt us with the latest office gossip.

      Applying a little time pressure prevents this from happening and we get more focused and more work done.

      4. Use the Power of Your Calendar

      Once you have your time estimates done, open up your calendar and schedule your to-dos. Go through your to-dos and schedule time on your calendar for doing those tasks. Group tasks up into similar tasks.

      For emails that need attention on your to-do list, schedule time on your calendar to deal with all your emails at once. Likewise, if you have a report to write or a presentation to prepare, add these to your calendar using your estimated time as a guide for how long each will take.

      Seeing these items on your calendar eases your mind because you know you have allocated time to get them done and you no longer feel you have no time. Grouping similar tasks together keeps you in a focused state longer and it’s amazing how much work you get done when you do this.

      5. Make Decisions

      For those things you wrote down that are on your mind but are not tasks, make a decision about what you will do with each one. These things are on your mind because you have not made a decision about them.

      If you have an issue with a colleague, a friend or a loved one, take a little time to think about what would be the best way to resolve the problem. More often than not just talking with the person involved will clear the air and resolve the problem.

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      If it is a more serious issue, then decide how best to deal with it. Talk to your boss, a colleague and get advice.

      Whatever you do, do not allow it to fester. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. You need to make a decision to deal with it and the sooner you do so the sooner the problem will be resolved. (You can take a look at this guide on How To Make Good Decisions All The Time.)

      I remember long ago, when I was in my early twenties and had gone mad with my newly acquired credit cards. I discovered I didn’t have the money to pay my monthly bills. I worried about it for days, got stressed and really didn’t know what to do. Eventually, I told a good friend of mine of the problem. He suggested I called the credit card company to explain my problem. The next day, I plucked up the courage to call the company, explained my problem and the wonderful person the other end listened and then suggested I paid a smaller amount for a couple of months.

      This one phone call took no more than ten minutes to make, yet it solved my problem and took away a lot of the stress I was feeling at the time. I learned two very valuable lessons from that experience:

      The first, don’t go mad with newly acquired credit cards! And the second, there’s always a solution to every problem if you just talk to the right person.

      6. Take Some Form of Action

      Because overwhelm is something that creeps up on us, once we feel overwhelmed (and stressed as the two often go together), the key is to take some form of action.

      The act of writing everything down that is bothering you and causing you to feel overwhelmed is a great place to start. Being able to see what it is that is bothering you in a list form, no matter how long that list is, eases the mind. You have externalized it.

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      It also means rather than these worries floating around in a jumbled mess inside your head, they are now visible and you can make decisions easier about what to do about them. Often it could be asking a colleague for a little help, or it could be you see you need to allocate some focused time to get the work done. The important thing is you make a decision on what to do next.

      Overwhelm is not always caused by a feeling of having a lack of time or too much work, it can also be caused by avoiding a decision about what to do next.

      The Bottom Line

      Make a decision, even if it is to just talk to someone about what to do next. Making a decision about how you will resolve something on its own will reduce your feelings of overwhelm and start you down the path to a resolution one way or another.

      When you follow these strategies to can say goodbye to your overwhelm and gain much more control over your day.

      More Tips for Reducing Work Stress

      Featured photo credit: Andrei Lazarev via unsplash.com

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