A Spring Cleaning Guide: 5 Steps to Refresh Your Digital Habits
Spring is finally here, and along with it, a changing era of work. With hybrid and remote work on the rise for many of us, we can’t expect our old productivity routines to produce the same results. To help shake off the dust, we put together this guide on how to re-examine your digital habits and create new ones that better support you.
1. Identify the productivity trap
It’s tempting to think about productivity in terms of quantity: do more work, check off more tasks, increase more numbers…But if your goal is just more, it becomes all too easy to find yourself committed to irrelevant projects or just hopelessly overbooked.
The key to staying engaged and energized is to prioritize your intrinsic motivations. Intrinsic motivation is the feeling of natural enjoyment and fulfillment that drives you to do things you like.
According to research from the Journal of Applied Psychology, “performance, productivity and sheer enjoyment of work have all been found to be greater in people with higher levels of intrinsic motivation…”
It turns out that external rewards (or punishments) don’t do much to drive progress.
Before you start a new project or job, sit down to evaluate goals based on your values and desired development. How can you connect your career to your intrinsic motivations? What qualities about yourself do you want to develop? What type of work drains you? Return to these questions periodically so that you don’t lose sight of what matters to you.
2. Check off the right tasks
Many productivity apps design their interface to create a satisfying, visual effect when you finish a task. In an interview with the BBC, an advertising and technology consultant observes how he’s been “breaking tasks down into minutiae just so that there were more things to move into the ‘done’ column.”
This excess task tracking (and all communication that tends to accompany it) can lead to overmanagement and frustrations. The apps that promise efficiency result in interrupting flow states, focus, and productivity. RingCentral's research shows that 70% of workers find the abundance of work communication challenging.
To communicate progress without overwhelming your team, recognize that productivity is not about getting more tasks checked off each day—it’s about taking care of what’s important. Make it a habit to reprioritize goals periodically so you stay focused on getting the right tasks finished.
3. Confront the planning fallacy
With the abundance of planning and project management apps out there, you’d think every project would go off without a hitch. But the truth is, plenty of us still end up with overcrowded pages of uncompleted tasks and projects that continue to fall behind schedule.
There’s a simple reason for this. “The planning fallacy” is a cognitive bias that causes us to misestimate the time it takes to finish a task. We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish over a short period of time, while we underestimate what we can do over a longer period.
To counter this, take a moment to review how yesterday’s tasks went as you create tasks for today. Rather than continuing to reschedule tasks that have been postponed more than once, simply delete them. If they’re really important, try rewriting them into a series of smaller tasks.
4. Minimize app fatigue
“Most workers toggle between apps 10 times an hour, which equates to up to 32 days lost in workplace productivity,” according to research from a cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions provider.
A report from Pegasystems Inc. also conducted a study of operational support employees, and from about 5 million hours of their live desktop activity, they found that “the average employee switches between 35 job-critical applications more than 1,100 times every day.”
To avoid these inefficiencies, use apps that consolidate communication and data into one place. With Searchable.ai, you can do just that and more—access anything you need for work in a single app or browser and search all your work at once. It’s a smart way to decrease app fatigue and get the job done with fewer distracting detours along the way. Download the desktop app for free here.
5. Sidestep the motivation trap
Dr. Russ Harris defines the motivation trap as the tendency to wait until we feel motivated before taking any action; and as a result, we often won’t take any steps towards a goal. In reality, motivation follows action.
When we take an action that aligns with our values, such as exercising when we value physical health, then motivation starts to grow. It’s commonly known that the hardest step to working out is just getting to the gym. Once you’re in the flow of doing something that you value, the motivation to keep doing it and continue doing it will only increase.
So instead of hoping that a productivity app will create the motivation for you to start a project, just start doing any task, even if you don’t feel ready.
We hope these tips will help you deep-clean your digital habits and pave the road to sustainable productivity.