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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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