These days, there's a gadget for everything. With so many options available, it can be easy to overload software and gadgets. You can actually harm your mental health and productivity by using too much technology. It's called “Tech Overload”, and it can make you feel overwhelmed.
It can also make it harder to start or complete tasks, leading to low self-esteem and depression. But don't worry, you don't need to sell everything and move to the woods just yet! Here are some tips for reducing tech overload in the workplace.
Clearing Out Hardware
Too much hardware can make it difficult to move around the workspace. The clutter can restrict your movement, or make it difficult to find what you need. A cramped space can also increase stress. There are many benefits to cleaning up your workspace.
First, consider how much of your hardware actually helps you. The goal here isn't outright minimalism (unless that's your thing!) but a healthy space between “drowning in gadgets” and “lost in a void.” You can do most jobs with just a good work computer and smartphone, but you might also need a drawing tablet, special sound equipment, or other tools.
Here's a good rule of thumb: if the time you save by using it is greater than the time you spend setting it up or moving it out of the way, it's a keeper. Get any tech that didn't make the cut away from your workspace, and don't forget to tidy up the cables and adapters while you're there!
Clearing Out Software
You can lose a lot of time navigating between tabs and windows, finding apps or files, or waiting for apps to load. Even if your machine has room to store it all, open apps can eat away at its processing power. When you need to keep up with multiple apps, notifications, and software updates, it can also create stress.
Consider cutting apps where you can. For instance, a paper-based planner can be just as effective as a digital one. Your to-do list might function just fine as a post-it note, depending on your style. A paper notebook is safer from hackers than any digital password-keeper. Experiment and see what works for you.
If you have a reliable internet connection, you could use an app's browser version. You might have to give up some features, but it can save space, clutter, and strain on your computer.
Most importantly, avoid single-use applications. That is, programs you only use for one task. You usually need to use these alongside other apps or web pages to complete the work. As an example, if you use one program to draft a document, a different one to spellcheck it, and a third one to submit it, you are better off using one program that does everything.
One way to simplify is to replace groups of apps with one multifunction app. Some of our favorites include Todoist and ClickUp. These apps handle workflow, project management, and general productivity. We like the browser-based Gmail and Google Calendar for emails, scheduling, and even journaling.
Microsoft Office Suite (which you can get for free) has stood the test of time for media creation and editing. You can choose which programs you download, so there's no unnecessary bloat. Of course, if the media you create includes graphics editing or sound design, you may be better served by Adobe Creative Cloud.
Tidying Up the Rest
With the useless apps and gadgets cleared away, it's time to begin optimizing what's left. Tech overload doesn't just come from the amount of tech you have, it's also about how you access and arrange it.
Optimize the Software
You can be productive with a cluttered desktop. But if you spend a lot of time trying to find what you need, it could be worth taking a minute to tidy up your files.
Notifications are more universally annoying. Tons of irrelevant messages will kill your productivity, so check the notification settings for all your apps. Make sure they're only talking to you when they have something important to say.
Lastly, many apps let you fine-tune your toolbars and features. Turn off anything you don't use, or hide it from view if you can't. This will almost certainly speed up the app and declutter your virtual workspace.
Optimize the Physical Space
Once you've cleared out the clutter, make sure the leftovers are accessible. But, remember to avoid crowding the space. Even if you use it all regularly, having everything visible can make a workspace feel cramped.
Keep tech out of sight, or at least out of the way when you aren't using it. Investing in shelves or a drawer unit can pay off for keeping things accessible but still out of the way.
Don't forget to do a literal clean-up, too. Dust and spills are not only bad for your electronics, but a dirty environment can also negatively affect your mental health. As for the tech you cleared aside, don't put it in the trash! Many donations and recycling depots accept electronics, so check your local options.
Preventing Future Buildup
If you move along without changing any practices, you could end up overloaded again. One way to stop buying tech you don't need is to start asking two simple questions:
- How does this help? Too often, we don't actually have a concrete plan for using a new gadget, and it just takes up space. Does it fill a real need, or do you already have a solution for that problem?
- Where will I put it? This applies more to hardware, to prevent your workspace from getting too crowded, but consider this for software, too. Consider how much memory a new app will take up and where you'll be accessing it from.
Living Free of Tech Overload
Once you've trimmed your tech inventory and set some better habits for acquiring new tech, you'll get to reap the benefits. Your workspace will be less crowded and easier to move around in. Your computer will run faster and smoother, and it'll be easier to access the apps and files you need. You'll be one step closer to the ideal work setup!