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How Introverts Can Use Technology Without Getting Overwhelmed by the Constant Connection

How Introverts Can Use Technology Without Getting Overwhelmed by the Constant Connection

Introverts are not people who are a) shy or b) socially inept. Introverts are people who gain energy by being alone, and spend out energy when they are with other people. That means that no matter how much I as an introvert like my friends, after a while I need a break. This is a case when the “It’s not you, it’s me” line is actually true. It isn’t about others. It’s about me, and the fact that I need solitude – alone time, downtime – to recharge and be ready to go again.

Now at first glance it doesn’t seem like technology would be tough for an introvert, right? I mean, here’s this easy way to talk or arrange plans with people without actually being in the same room. Introverts can reach out to others but still be alone. A win for everyone!

Except that it’s not.

The two things that make technology so useful and amazing – information and connection – are also what make it draining for introverts. Here’s why.

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Too Much Information to Handle

Information overload affects everybody, but introverts tend to want details and want to research something until they feel that they have a firm grasp on it. Of course, with the Internet at my fingertips, I can research a topic into infinity and still never get to the end of it.

There is always more information.

And I want the information. I want it all. I want it organized, categorized, saved, arranged, and ready for me to browse it at my leisure. I want to annotate it and then come back and read my annotations. I don’t want to skim; I want to really understand. I want to give all the sources a fair shake, sift through and find the ones that are acceptable, and then save and read them. Deeply. Quietly. Alone.

Always Connected, Never Alone

On one hand, technology means I can make plans with my friends without (gag) having to be on the phone.

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On the other hand, technology means that anyone, at anytime, can ding, beep, buzz, or otherwise intrude into my solitude. Texting, email, and social media create communication lines that are constantly on, constantly open. And that constant connectivity means that even when I am alone, at any moment I could find that aloneness broken. I can ignore it, but the solitude is shattered.

Short of just turning all the devices off, what can we do? I want to be reachable, and sometimes I need to be available. I do like my friends, I just need my solitude.

Here are a few tips for handling tech – not withdrawing from it – but using it in a way that works for your introverted self.

1. Reduce the number of inputs in your life.

Every app you add to your phone adds another means of disruption. Why have so many? Do you really need your calendar, your Facebook notifications, and your task manager to tell you that it’s somebody’s birthday? Eliminate what you can, and close those open loops in your brain. Choose the social channels you like best and ignore the rest. This helps you reduce the mental overload of constant notifications. It also cuts down on redundancy. If you’ve heard the news or update from one source, why do you need to hear it again? Short answer: you don’t. Cut out the inputs that irritate you, and stick to using the ones you like.

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2. Guard your downtime.

Guard it like a jealous Mama Bear. Why? Because you need it. The whole world is a better place when you’ve had some alone time, so make it happen by removing all the ways you could be interrupted. That means: leave your phone at home when you go for a jog (or if you want it for safety, turn the notifications off). Take a walk with it silenced. Read a book with all the tech turned off. Get a massage, take a bath, work in the garden, sit in the corner and sob over the stupidity by which you are surrounded everyday … You know, whatever your solitary thing is, do it in true solitude by closing those open doors for a while. Otherwise you don’t get the benefit of that downtime, you just get frustrated. Be careful about tech at night, too; a lot of interaction, even the digital kind, can set your brain spinning right when you need it to be winding down. Value yourself enough to get a decent night’s sleep.

3. Don’t set a standard of instant reply.

I usually silence all the notifications on my phone in the morning while I’m working. Sometimes I forget to turn them back on, and five hours later I check my phone to see 25 texts and 12 missed calls and 200 emails. The first few times this happened, I felt terrible and sent responses out with a big, “So sorry, I forgot to turn my sound on …” disclaimer. A funny thing happened, though. Nobody cared. They all have lives. They’re busy with stuff. So the fact that I didn’t immediately answer every tweet or text they sent wasn’t the end of the world for them.

For the few who did mind, my apology was sufficient, and now they’ve come to expect slow responses from me sometimes. They know that I shut things down when I need to focus or be alone. They know that I care. They know that I’ll answer when I’m ready to be back on, plugged in. And you know what? They all survive until then, just fine. They key here is to have enough confidence in your friends that you will let them learn how you use your technology instead of feeling obligated to fulfill their expectations.

4. Don’t let unsettled things linger.

Do set your own standards. Yes. But don’t procrastinate when you need to respond to something, because it will just eat away your brain space until you’ve dealt with it. Whether it’s a work or personal matter, if there is some unresolved thing that needs to be resolved, do it as soon as possible. One sure thing that drains introverts more than interaction is the anticipation of it. Especially if there’s any sort of tension or unfamiliarity involved. If you’re ready to shut things down for a while and have some downtime, great. But don’t do it if your mind keeps meandering back to that important email you didn’t answer, or that friend’s text you ignored. Respond first so your brain can stop planning, analyzing, anticipating. Then go have that downtime.

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5. Come up with a central organization system.

All the information needs a place to go. Set one up that will give you security in knowing that your information is there when you’re ready for it. I use a combination of Evernote and Dropbox, but there are plenty of options out there. Make sure that whatever you choose is secure, has some sort of automatic backup, and is accessible via the device(s) you use most often. This will allow you to dump all the research, articles, books, references, and whatnot in there, knowing that it’s safe, and you can forget about it until you have time to come back with your full attention.

Are you an introvert? What are your tips for using tech and staying connected without being irritated or overwhelmed? Let us know in the comments.

Featured photo credit: B Rosen via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

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Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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