Better manage your Digital Time

Everyone in the IT industry is well acquainted with the inevitable time we spend on average staring at blaring pixels. Our job is tightly connected to some display, helping us work with interactive data. Although IT specialists certainly top the charts, several other professions also clock a high dose of screen time. But how do we manage the golden ratio between a healthy life and an optimal work output?

Online marketing makes us glued to the screen when we plan and execute our perfect campaign. Social media teaches us to frantically check our phones, constantly seeking that update, making us reach for our trusted device every time we hear it beep. Our body learns to cope with this habit in time, but in the long run, the accumulated exposure of constant high alert forces our brain to desperately hope we somehow snap out of it and pull on the breaks.
Many statistics point towards a growing problem: people spend too much time using their favorite devices. The portability of smartphones has elevated our connectedness to a level we never experienced before as members of society or as professionals. Isn’t the increased time spend working on devices a natural effect of cutting-edge technology? Does the course of our human evolution take an unexpected turn somewhere along the way?
Amplified by the pandemic conditions, going off the grid — working from home, in general — may be inspirational for the creative part of our workforce. However, it is also clear that despite the incredible opportunities provided by tech advances and automation, not all jobs can be reassigned to an AI or be completed by remote workers. Technology is here to help us, but it turns out that it’s easy to misuse it unintentionally. Many have fallen into that trap – we hope this article will help us avoid becoming the victim of one of our best creations.
We use digital tools to make a living, so simply putting them aside would not solve it. We must preserve productivity, so we need to find this: at what cost this delicate balance becomes available?

Be the master of your daily schedule

Developers can talk about monitors and the best color scheme for their favorite text editor for hours. The eyes of our eCommerce team members, for example, are grizzled through countless hours of screen exposure. Most of them using more than one display at a time, too.
They will tell you that taking breaks from the monitor is necessary, but with chronic computer screen time, it’s easy to ignore the SOS signals that your body eventually starts to broadcast.
You can reach the optimal benefits of your screen breaks should you follow some form of regularity. Digital displays have this sort of magical effect on human eyes – we forget to blink while looking at them. As a result of this continuous staring, human eyes get tired more quickly. We catch ourselves rubbing our eyeballs with knuckles, one of the many counteractions that not only do not help, but even contributes to more harm. The small breaks dedicated to your eyes specifically should be separated from your longer breaks, aimed at explicitly exercising your body-motor functions: few stretches here and there; and the occasional — but highly beneficial — brief walk right after lunch.
As a part of the global team of keyboard warriors, compared to the rest of our body, our eyes always take the more significant blow. The sedentary life of computer specialists can lead to a path also lead to pretty severe consequences. It’s our responsibility to always this in our mind. It’s easy to forget it; therefore, all positive improvements should immediately become a part of our daily routine.

We always respect the short breaks we use to help our bodies recover from the strain. Although each of us has unique qualities as professionals, we bear similarities in our approach to self-improvement: it’s a perpetual process for everyone.
Whether you are a cardiologist, A TSA agent assigned to check luggage with x-rays, or a software engineer, your eyes are your best tools. Like any other tool that gets work out due to heavy use, your eyes require maintenance – eye care should take utmost priority. Imagine how more arduous your job would be compromised eyesight.
Your morning planning ultimately should also roughly map all the consecutive breaks you have. Since morning productivity generally decreases at a slow rate throughout the day, it usually starts in ‘high gear’ and gradually reduces the tempo. Whether the early hours lie at your productivity peak or cutting screen time affects you specifically, the essential part is to uncover your personal work rhythm.
Finding your ideal work tempo is tricky because it is not always what you previously assumed as your best for you specifically. As we all admit, it’s very easy to get caught up in work and forget about your regular breaks. However, once you tune in to your supreme work clock, your productivity will increase exponentially.

Fine-tune your work patterns with Asynchronous Communication

The phrase Instant Messengers is loaded with meaning. One of them is about the speed of information transfer – messages arrive instantly. Technology allows us to communicate over the biggest of physical distances with almost zero delay. We can talk with someone located on the opposite side of the planet without talking over each other. Decades ago, this was unthinkable, and only but a few centuries ago, homing pigeons were the ‘go-to tech’ for long-distance communication. During a short time period, evolutionary speaking, we had made a giant technological leap. We quickly became masters of developing new tech and finding its best application.

We have achieved the human-machine synchronization level that will enable us to wrap every country and continent into a network supporting high-speed data exchange. Some AI tech may match the intensity of these processes, but to our human brains, this extreme speed can be highly challenging. We need to recognize when we need a break from communication.
Asynchronous communication is a relatively new method that takes a step back from what cutting-edge technology can ultimately do, and, instead, focuses on our limitations as human beings; each of us with a unique thought process, skills, and approach to work. However, the true power of technology is not always matched by our capacity to appreciate it. Every time we eagerly accept incredible new techs like mobile phones, we must always consider all aspects of how they will inevitably change our lives.
For example, we use instant messengers and live chatbots, but constantly checking updates and being disturbed by alarms takes a toll on productivity. A successful problem-solving process is about spending an uninterrupted amount of time and focus on a single task. Our productive output is represented by the collective output of all these smaller independent task completions. Whenever we temporarily dedicate our full and intermittent attention to a single task, any interruption can make us “take two steps back”.
The ‘beep’ of a sound alarm can easily break the integrity and immersion of the problem-solving process and even complicate or delay its resuming.

Asynchronous communication is one intelligent way we, humans, can use cutting-edge technology to help us bring the best of us as professionals. Remote working is a prime example how companies manage to re-design their internal workflow.
A flight tower controller will convince you that real-time communication is crucial. Guiding the trajectory of airborne vessels with different itineraries bears a strong sense of emergency. For anything other than an immediate urgency, however, synchronous communication could be interruptive or distractive.
Defining and separating emergency tasks from the rest of the daily buzz can be a daunting task. There is no wrong time to improve on your work output, and bettering your communication prowess is tightly relate to how you grow as a professional, regardless of your field of study or industry.

Apart from personal gain, asynchronous communication can be good for your crew, too. Only a few minutes of interrupted performance can make your team members more anxious and less focused on the tasks. Unlike non-essential online communication, your schedule and work ethics should always be in sync with your team.
Although instant messengers are the backbone for teams’ internal communication, face-to-face communication has undeniable advantages when it comes to quality. Learning to appreciate the difference between the two is an universal challenge. The problem and the problem-solving process persist in any communication, personal or professional.

Written, and not typed

Let us take the work of an eCommerce team as an example. Software engineers, QAs, or PMs, have strictly digital work output. Online tools are the hammer and chisel of any IT trooper, and we at CodeCoda trust such tools – our work and communication practically depend on them.
Each eCommerce team member further diversifies from the rest with their personal preferences for task management and note making, some of the more popular ones being Jira, Trello,Asana, or even Monday.com. Regardless of your choice for a digital task management system, there is something else you can use. Handwritten notes pack an extraordinary power for increasing personal productivity and development. An ordinary pencil stands as a humble reminder that not all the tools we use fall into the protective aura of the cloud. And it’s true – not everything that contributes to the success of any given eCommerce project should be 100% cloud-based. One of the non-cloud essentials includes your notes, preferably your handwritten notes. Here’s why.
Apart from the visual contrast of ink over paper, handwritten notes tend to engrain themselves in your permanent memory and are easier to recall. The science behind this phenomenon has something to do with your hand-eye coordination. Your brain uses a unique pattern to store handwritten memories, amplified by your brain’s special connection with your extremities. The pen and paper serve to present an excellent opportunity to mark your daily work schedule or any other essential highlights that prequel your official contribution to a team effort.
Just the mere presence of pen and paper near your work area, can help you be less distracted by the overwhelming effect digital tools have on us.
Paper-based notes carry the strong sense of irreversibility. When we type on a keyboard, anything put next to the blinking cursor can quickly appear or disappear. The ink on paper carries a more vital mental note and helps our memories solidify better. Therefore, when writing notes, you are more careful what you write down and do more critical thinking before writing it.

Time to get to work

Just like us, most of our clients and partners also spend a big chunk of their daily work in front of a laptop or tablet display. As an advanced eCommerce solutions provider, we understand the physical strain everyone involved in the IT industry experiences daily. Work is our passion, and we know that any passion tends to drive us to complete immersion. A passionate dedication can sometimes act as a tunnel vision, and make us ignore important collateral factors, and break the consistency of our work routine.
In a nutshell – to improve your digital workload, it’s best to selectively try some of our hand-picked tips and see how they can apply to your daily routine. Through years spent creating and optimizing digital tools, we learned that optimizing your personal development is what matters a lot. It matters more than clocking a successful project because the positive effect of any personal improvement will incrementally improve all your follow-up achievements, and the achievements of your team.
If you haven’t already, it’s about time your revise your approach to a healthy work schedule. When your body and mind are better synchronized, you are on a steady track to optimal productivity. And all this could be felt by your team and your clients.

So, let’s get to work and become a better version of ourselves.

Like this article? Please rate it!

Author

Andreas Maier | CEO

Andreas is a result-oriented CEO who brings nearly 30 years of experience gained in the high-tech industry. His experience ranges up to leading positions in Fortune 100 companies such as rentalcars.com (PCLN) or Intrasoft International, a leading EU based R&D software vendor. He holds a Ph.D. in Neural Networks from the University of Cologne, Germany.
In the past Andreas has successfully founded and co-founded several startups among others XXL Cloud Inc., eShopLeasing Ltd, and WDS Consulting SA. His expertise is strongly focused on modern headless Commerce and the optimization of processes in IT ecosystems.