7 Small Habits to Help You Handle The Overwhelm of Working and Living in the Digital World

How to Handle the Stress in the Digital World

“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn't ask me, I'd still have to say it.”
George F. Burns

“Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention.”
Jim Rohn

Life today is quite different compared to when I was a kid in the 80’s and early 90’s. Back then I had a TV with just a few channels and later on a Nintendo videogame. That was it.

Today many of us have smartphones that we use to browse the internet, to work and to play games. We spend a many hours in front of computers and a part of our day is often spent online.

There is so much information these days. So many potential distractions and sources that seem to have made people more stressed, overwhelmed and unhappy than they were in the past.

Working and living in this age isn’t always easy.

So this week I’d like to share 7 habits that help me to keep my attention on what truly matters – both at work and in my private life – and at the same time minimize stress and overwhelm.

1. Shut off notifications.

To find focus the first simple thing to do is to shut off notifications in:

  • Your email client.
  • Messaging programs.
  • Social media and gaming apps.

Then get back to what truly matters without those pings hanging over you and distracting you.

2. Keep your smart phone far away for quality time/work.

The simplest way to not be distracted all the time by your smartphone is to put up small obstacles so you don’t have that easy and tempting access.

Here's, for instance, what I do when I work:

  • I put the phone in silent mode.
  • I put it in another room at the other end of our home.
  • Then I check it a few times a day for calls and text messages.

We often do the same thing during the evenings and weekends to make sure that the time we spend together is quality time and not time spent being distracted.

3. Unplug or use an app to keep your focus on what matters.

When I write a new article or work on a course then I usually do that disconnected from the internet.

If that’s not possible for you then try a program or browser addon like for example StayFocusd or Cold Turkey Pro to temporarily block the sites where you know you tend to procrastinate and waste too much time.

4. Disconnect over the weekend.

Stay away from work and offline over the weekend. Leave your work phone at your job.

If that’s not possible keep things to a minimum:

  • Leave that work phone in silent mode and check it just every 24 hours over the weekend.
  • Do a quick 2 min check of email once a weekend (that’s what I do).
  • Reply only to the calls, texts and emails that are very important. Otherwise, let them wait until Monday.

5. Focus your information inflow.

Ask yourself:

  • What email newsletters in my inbox have I actually read and gotten something good out of in the past 30 days?
  • What podcasts I have listened to that have given me value in the past month?

You can ask yourself the same questions for magazines, blogs and forums and so on. Then take 5-15 minutes to unsubscribe to the ones that just clutter up your inbox, smart phone, bookmark list and shelves.

Time is limited. So is your attention.

So use both of them in a way that enriches your life and that focuses on only the best information sources. This very simple exercise can be surprisingly effective to get rid of mental clutter too and think more clearly again.

6. Stop comparing your life to someone’s high-light reel.

When you start comparing yourself and your life to what old classmates, friends and celebrities share on Instagram or Facebook and you each day see how perfect and wonderful their homes, kids, work and lives are then that can create a lot of stress and erode your self-esteem.

So what can you do if you get stuck in this habit?

  • Remember that what they share is usually just the high-light reel of their lives, the most positive moments. The other stuff that is a part of life happens too, you just don’t see it.
  • Focus on comparing yourself to yourself instead. See how far you have come, what you have learned and what you have overcome.

7. Remember the 5 little words for sanity: One thing at a time.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the tabs open in your browser or missed messages, when you’re distracted by something while trying to have quality time with your loved ones and when the stress is starting to build up remember those 5 little words.

Breathe and let them help you to connect with this moment and with simplifying things. Use them to slow down, to find clarity in what you need to do and to resharpen your focus and attention once again.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • smriti sharma

    i just love to read your positivity blogs and i feel like yes exactly i need to do this.

  • Priyanka

    All are things which I have read it before. But I I found something new edition, it is about one or more lines but I found it new and energetic.
    Specially that word you used that I applied or do this in my life.
    Keep it up..

  • Acchu

    Really really good.
    Thanks for these words :)

  • Ashutosh Parik

    Hey Henrik
    Great post ?
    I have this habit of comparing myself with others (mainly on academics, though). From next time I’ll keep these two things in mind.
    Thank you.

  • Anonymous


  • Kelly

    Thank you, great advice I needed to hear right now:)

  • Thanks Henrik for these 7 Habits. I appreciate the reminders of the things I “know” but don’t always practice. Number 6 reminded me of the saying I’ve been using lately – “Compare and despair!” Thanks again.

  • Cris

    Thank you for your clarity and calming ideas. I resonate with most of them. They have been helpful!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you. That’s awesome!!!

  • Amanda

    Thank you for the inspiring information. I used to indulge in social media that took time from my family and my own personal well being. I removed some social media because of the drama it caused in my life and have noticed how much more time I spend with family in talking and giving my full attention to what they have to say. Social media is nice to have when you have family far away and the internet is nice when you need to find something out in a snap. But it definitely can consume our lives if we are not careful. Thanks again for the article.

  • shanta

    Practical and useful tips to survive in this digital craving world. thanks

  • R.B.

    Good, practical advice on dealing with the too-connected daily distractions!

  • Anonymous

    I love dat.

  • Warren

    Living in the digital world. Your 7 habits are so true.
    Some years ago I was spending some time with a new lady in my life. Her home phone rang while we were engaged in a conversation. She did not answer it. Later I asked why. Her reply was, “When I am involved with the now, other things can wait. If the call was important they will ring again or they may leave a message. I will attend to the message when the time is right. The right time is not now.”
    I always remember that moment, and have found it to have great benefits for the now in my life.
    Thank you so much for your weekly words of wisdom.
    Kind regards

  • Julie Ogembo

    Nice one, Thanks Henrik..