How to Overcome Digital Fatigue and Decrease Digital Overload

Maribel Muñoz
December 27, 2022

We cannot live without technology, but side effects might be more serious than you think

Minutes after you wake up, you're already checking your inbox, scanning through unwanted emails, and scrolling through your newsfeed. Later, you find yourself looking at the latest trends on LinkedIn and commenting on a few posts, then diving into a mandatory parade of presentation slides and data graphics.

In between tasks, you answer a few urgent emails, and take a little break by checking Instagram and watching that cute video of your niece dancing to Bon Jovi (don't forget to give it a “love"). With a cup of coffee in hand, you finish your presentation, do a few video conferences, and review business data on a never-ending spreadsheet.

By the time you gaze up and want to do something else, it's already too late: you've spent the whole day looking at a screen, your eyes are almost coming out of their sockets, i.e., you're suffering from digital or tech fatigue.

Admit it, you don't know how to live without your computer, your phone, or pretty much anything that's not connected to WiFi. And if you're being honest with yourself, you also don't know how to:

  • Read without scanning.
  • Buy something without looking at reviews.
  • Contact someone without texting first.
  • Cook without checking an online recipe.

The toxic element here is the amount of online activities you perform within a given day, and how dependent you are on them.

The exponential technological growth that's taken place during the last two decades of our lives has brought with it unprecedented advancement. Not only has it had an impact on the way we do business, but it also has also changed the way we develop relationships, maintain our households, and use transportation. But, these advantages don't come without damaging effects.

According to research conducted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, among 4,100 young adults, heavy use of cell phones and computers leads to an increase in sleep disorders, stress, and mental illnesses like depression. Intensive use of computers late at night and not taking any breaks from screen time only makes matters worse.

There is scientifically proven correlation between screen exposure and lack of sleep: the light produced by screens, commonly known as blue light, prevents our bodies from producing melatonin, which is a hormone known for helping us sleep. It also affects our circadian rhythm, which is the internal clock our body has to regulate or schedule certain functions, including sleep cycles.

And beyond technology-induced sleep disorders, you could also be suffering from digital burnout as evidenced by these symptoms:

  • Headaches.
  • Dry eyes.
  • Stiff head, shoulders or back.
  • Increased sensitivity to light.
  • Poor levels of concentration.
  • Low energy, despite not doing physical work.
  • An overwhelming feeling about routines and repetitive days.
  • Irrational behavior at times.

How to decrease digital overload

So how do you combat digital burnout and decrease digital overload? We recommend following these steps based on our research:

  1. Check your email only once or twice a day: Doing this is easier than you think. Some people include a note about this in their email signatures, advising senders to call if the matter is urgent.
  1. Simplify both your work and personal inboxes: Set any unwanted mail aside immediately using labels, allow lists, folders, or your preferred email organization method.

    You can also use an email management system like Gated to block unwanted email from reaching you in the first place. Like most inbox management tools, Gated helps keep your inbox clean by filtering out all unknown senders while making those unknown senders donate to your favorite charity like World Central Kitchen in order to reach you.
  1. Take a 5-10 minute break for every hour spent at your computer: Even if it's just to get up from your chair and stretch a bit (and get a glass of water, too! According to the CDC, staying hydrated is key to staying healthy).
  1. Set a time to go outside and exercise every day: And by exercise, we mean anything that gets you moving for at least 15 to 30 minutes, whether its walking or HIIT routines.
  1. Turn off your screen 1 or 2 hours before bedtime: Reducing exposure to blue light will help you sleep better, especially in the hours before you sleep.
  1. Keep push notifications to a minimum: Do you really need to know what's happening in every single app? Probably not. So turn off notifications that aren't critical to your day-to-day (especially on social media apps like LinkedIn or Instagram) and enjoy the extra focus time and fewer interruptions.

Considering how hooked we are on electronic devices, apps, online platforms, and all things with a screen, this might be easier said than done. However, your life will change for the better the minute you become aware of the possibility of living in a simpler, healthier, and disconnected mindset.

It is not always easy, but taking small steps helps.

After working in technology for many years, and using many apps during my personal time, I realized living in a state of constant connection was making me anxious and affecting my sleep quality. By being conscious of digital overload and taking small actions during the day, I can now walk through a park without constantly looking at my phone, and actually notice the lovely trees and flowers around me.

It's time to lift our heads and connect with the world in a different way. And one way to do so is to add Gated to your inbox to improve your productivity and support the causes you're passionate about.

Maribel Munoz is a content specialist and digital marketing expert. After working in the online and tech industry for over ten years, she is committed to making the digital space more meaningful and human. Maribel’s focus on finding the balance between technological advancements and a healthy lifestyle encourages and inspires the Gated team.


Originally published: March 29, 2021