Do you ever have days or weeks where you feel drained more often than not?
You wake up begin your day but within an hour you’re already dragging. The day feels like an exhausting effort yet you’re not doing much.
You make sure to sleep enough. You make a point to eat well, and you do your best to exercise. What gives?
Technology is everywhere in our lives. A lot of us can’t seem to make it more than a few hours without it. Whether its communicating with loved ones, reading a news story, or catching up on social media, our various tech gadgets are our main sources of entertainment, as well as a central part of our professional lives (in some form or another).
As a result, we undoubtedly develop habits that sneakily drain our energy, though we don’t always realize it.
The first step to taking back control of our daily energy is building awareness. Recognize how technology contributes to general fatigue. Here are 6 sneaky ways that technology is draining your energy– and what you can do about it.
1. Checking Your Phone Too Frequently
Like an itch that needs to be scratched, the more we check our phones, the more automatic of a reaction it becomes to reach for them every 10 seconds to check for a new notification, or find an app to scroll — even if we JUST did this and nothing has likely changed.
Over time this drains our energy because it kills our attention span. It kills our ability to focus or concentrate on other activities which over time leaves us dragging.
Try This Instead:
- Turn Notifications off for most apps – you and the rest of the world will survive if you don’t respond instantaneously.
- Place your phone on Do Not Disturb mode. This at least helps you avoid incessant distractions from every time your phone lights up. It might not sound like much but extending the amount of time between the last time you checked helps a lot. If you’re worried about missing urgent calls or texts, you can always add certain contacts to your favorites and they will be excluded from Do Not Disturb. The rest can wait.
- Leave your phone in another room or hidden in a drawer or bag for periods throughout the day. Out of sight, eventually (somewhat) out of mind.
2. Constant Scrolling
Constantly checking your phone is one thing, but the next piece of it is spending time on apps that make you a passive consumer. Social Media would be a prime example — it’s easy to scroll and scroll without a definitive end. The endless scrolling is particularly draining in part because of the type of content that usually involves scrolling — internet rabbit holes, online shopping, social media– but also because it becomes difficult to know when to stop. Over time this drains our energy because it takes a toll on our mental health. The urge to always be scrolling leads to multi tasking as well (#3).
Try This Instead:
- Try downloading some fun, interactive apps that help you learn something (or otherwise challenge your brain) and turn to those when you feel the urge to mindlessly scroll. Some good options are Duolingo (learn a new language), Feedly or Bloglovin (gather a roundup of articles or blogs based on your interests), or fun games that work your brain such as Wordscapes (iPhone or Android)or Free Cell (iPhone or Android).
- If downloading replacement apps isn’t enough, try deleting social media apps off the phone and re-downloading them only on weekends or at designated time frames that you decide work well for you.
3. Multi-Tasking Too Often
How many different screens do you look at on a daily basis? Have you ever tried to read something while having a movie on in the background and checking your phone ever few minutes?
I’d guess these days most of us have done this at some point. It’s hard not to — we have so much information, so many methods of communication, as well as sources of entertainment at our finger tips — why focus on one thing at a time when you can do all 3?
Well, because it’s mentally exhausting and we don’t end up getting all that much completed. Of the things that matter, that is. The more we do this throughout the day, the more it contribute to our general fatigue.
Try This Instead:
- See #1 for ways to lessen your impulses to check additional devices, since this usually leads to multi-tasking whether you intended to or not.
- Awareness of multi-tasking is key– keep a journal for a week and keep track of how frequently you catch yourself multi-tasking.
- Take regularly scheduled breaks away from technology completely — enjoy a conversation, paint, read a book, go for a walk or run etc. Something that makes it impossible to multi-task between multiple screens. Be present and enjoy devoting all of your attention to one single thing for once.
4. Consuming A Junk Food Content Diet
In another post I talked about how our online content is just as important for our health as what we eat and how we physically take care of our bodies.
Not all content was created the same — some types are particularly draining. Toxic people, unrealistic standards, passive consumption of ads, click-bait articles with no true value — negative time sucks of all sorts.
It goes without saying that all this negativity takes a toll on your mental health which in turn takes a toll on your overall levels of energy and enthusiasm to approach the day.
Try This Instead:
- Regularly clean up your social media feed: Keep only the people and accounts that add positive value to your day rather than make you feel worse about yourself.
- Take regularly scheduled technology cleanses – no one expects you to be online ALL the time. It’s good for your energy levels (and mental health) to take breaks. Step away entirely. This keeps you from over-consuming content — which can be just as problematic as the type of content.
- Set goals and add a strategy behind your content consumption — how is what you’re reading/watching etc. improving your life and your long term personal or career goals? A simple question can help center your attention on using technology for stuff that matters.
5. Waking Up And Immediately Reaching for Your Phone
Raise your hand if your phone is also your alarm clock. 🙋🏻♀️
Raise your hand if when you reach to turn off that alarm clock, you end up with phone in hand, scrolling for an undetermined amount of time. 🙋🏻♀️
Personally, whenever I do this (depending on what I’m doing on my phone — reading vs scrolling), I get out of bed feeling like I’ll be ready for a nap soon.
It is not at all the most energizing way to start your day.
It makes you lethargic before the day has even had a chance! If anything, it can cause overwhelm, anxiety, and generally make you feel a little down. Even if it seems like there was no direct trigger in anything you saw.
I’m not going to lie, this is something I’m personally still trying to work on. Some days I’m good at not doing it, others I still reach for my phone. However, I have tried to make an effort to catch up on newsletters I like or other types of interesting reading rather than allowing negativity (via social media, too many news stories or whatever it may be) creep into my day from the get go.
Try This Instead:
- Consider using an “old fashioned” (hehe 😉 ) alarm clock. AKA…NOT your phone! You can buy an analog or digital one for a reasonable price and this allows you to place your phone further from the bed while still making sure you’re up on time.
- Sleep with your phone outside your bedroom….or across the room from you. When you get up, glance at your phone but complete 1-3 tasks first before catching up on everything you missed while you were asleep. Good options are:
- Drink a glass of water
- Take a shower
- Eat breakfast
- Read a book (or Kindle) — some device without access to social media and endless notifications)– for 10-15 minutes before you check your phone
- Make some tea of coffee
- Journaling for 5-10 minutes
- Exercise — Stretch, Yoga, go for a run, etc.
6. Not Using Technology to Stimulate and Challenge Your Mind
The paradox of technology is that we think we need to always be on it in order to not get bored — when in reality, a lot of what we spend our time doing doesn’t challenge us. It doesn’t stimulate us. It actually makes us more bored, but it’s cleverly disguised.
We often have the right intentions, though. It’s just easy to get distracted.
You’ll say — I’m going to read that article that looked interesting right after I catch up on my Instagram feed!– and end up scrolling for an hour before finally, you’re tired of your phone and you never read the article.
I know I’ve done this. I have the intention to use my technology to learn and stimulate me with new ideas rather than focus on mind numbing content. But that content is addicting and it manipulates our own psychology.
The end result leaves you feeling drained.
Mentally stimulating and challenging content will energize you. But unfortunately, that type of content is not always the easiest option…it often seems to require extreme willpower to always seek something better out.
Try This Instead:
- If your goal is to read more and find new stimulating ideas, I really recommend trying to invest in a device where you can read more or less distraction free. For example, a Kindle or an iPad without any social media apps or messaging available on it. That way, your attention won’t get pulled in multiple directions as notifications roll in, and you’ll be able to get into a flow of learning. Of course, paper books, newspapers etc. are a great choice, but we do live in a digital world. If you must use technology, this strategy sets you up to make sure it stimulates you, rather than drains you.
- Similar to #4, to use technology in a stimulating way, you have to become a more active consumer. Rather than letting algorithms or targeted ads dictate what you see and consume, practice asking yourself three simple questions each time you find yourself surfing the web on your phone. “How does what I’m looking at right now help me become the person I want to be?” “How does this make me feel right now?” “What could I spend my time on right now that would make me feel really good?”
None of this is meant to say that you should avoid social media or silly/entertaining content online at all costs. Everything within a balance has it’s place in our lives.
It’s just meant to highlight the various ways in which technology can be draining, and how we often don’t point fingers to it as the source, until things get really bad. We assume we didn’t sleep well. We assume it’s some other lifestyle factor. And in reality it is a combination. But I firmly believe technology can be a bigger contributor than we think.
I hope some of my recommendations prove to be helpful in your own life — I know that when I consciously manage when, where and how I spend my time online, I feel infinitely better. I feel energized, in control of my time, and intentional about my life.
And I wish the same for you! Thanks for reading 🙂