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Do You Need an Information Detox?

Do You Need an Information Detox?
    Too much information can tip the scales...and not in your favour.

    Could you imagine going a full day without your iPhone or BlackBerry? What would it be like if you couldn’t check Facebook and see what your friends had been up to? Or if Twitter was temporarily out of action and your feed of 140 character messages were eliminated from your day? What if the newspaper didn’t arrive — and you had no Internet access? What a nightmare! How would we survive this hypothetical day of disconnection?

    We regularly hear talk of the modern phenomenon, “Information Overload”, but have you noticed that we rarely hear anything about “Information Detox”? In other facets of our lives if we over-consume, the consensual thinking is to reduce, eliminate or detox. If you over-consume at a party on Saturday night, the first thing you’re likely to think of doing on Sunday is to clean out your body so that it can return to a state of improved energy and health.

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    A detox (or detox diet) aims to remove the toxins that have accumulated in your body and rejuvenate your health. After a detox, people claim to feel “light” and healthy again.

    So…could we take this idea and carry it out with our information consumption?

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    Reasons to begin an Information Detox

    To borrow one of my mother’s favourite sayings, “Everything in moderation”, too much of anything is not good. The same goes for information consumption. Too much of it is a bad thing. But how can information be negative?

    It disturbs our focus. When we are always connected, it is much more difficult to keep our attention on the job that needs doing. We start to believe we are missing something. If we don’t log in to Twitter or Facebook, we may have missed something really interesting or relevant.

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    It can create stress. We are bombarded with information from all areas: newspapers, newsletters, news feeds. The danger is that we feel obliged to read all of this information. We believe that in some way our lives will be lacking if we don’t consume all the material that comes our way. This can create the subconscious anxiety that we always have something we need to do.

    It fosters negativity. The media is full of negative news these days. Do we need to fill our days with these unpleasant thoughts and images? Wouldn’t it be a lot more pleasant to surround ourselves with positivity and inspiration?

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    We fail to be present. Look around you everywhere you go. Whether you are walking down a street in the United States or in New Zealand, the Netherlands or Abu Dhabi, wherever you look you will see the same picture. People absorbed by their mobile phones, engrossed in the “conversations” they are having. Talk or text — it doesn’t matter — they are detached from the reality around them. They are not living their lives in the present moment. If we allow this to continue, our personal relationships can suffer. The more we connect online the more we detach ourselves from our local community. Our jobs can suffer from the lack of focus and distraction. Our health can suffer from the stress and pressure to stay informed and connected. Ultimately, we may miss out on the beauty and possibilities of life.

    Are you up for an Information Detox?

    Here are some suggestions that you can try to get started. If you are feeing brave, try all of them for a week. If you want to try using baby steps, choose one each day this week and see how it changes your life for the better.

    1. Switch off your phone when you get home from work.
    2. Don’t use your phone on your way to and from work. Listen to music or read a novel.
    3. Don’t access Facebook and Twitter for one week.
    4. Don’t read any material that is not uplifting and motivational.
    5. Turn off all email notifications or any other social media messages.
    6. Do not watch the television for one week.
    7. No newspapers, online news or any other form of world news access.

    I would love to hear more suggestions and feedback. Let me know if you plan to try an Information Detox in the comments — and then come back and let me know how it turned out!

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2019

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

    So what changed?

    I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

    My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

    Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

    But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

    1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

    Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

    If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

    Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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    How to Tackle It?

    Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

    For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

    Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

    2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

    This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

    The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

    How to Tackle It?

    Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

    If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

    Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

    3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

    This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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    The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

    The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

    How to Tackle It?

    Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

    For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

    A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

    If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

    4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

    Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

    Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

    How to Tackle It?

    It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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    Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

    For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

    Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

    In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

    This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

    Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    How to Tackle It?

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Bottom Line

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

    I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

    I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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