Increase your productivity with digital mindfulness

Stella Jones
Fri 25 Aug

The world of work, like the world of play, is drenched in distraction – social media, endless emails and tempting digital offerings. It’s easy to focus on physical clutter, but what about the impact on our productivity of digital clutter? Browsing the web, checking emails and scrolling through our social media fields easily become mindless. The real reason is that such activities can easily put your mind into a trance, which is why minutes and hours slip by without conscious awareness.

How do we contain the intrusion while extracting the gold from these endless resources? How do we allow enough space to deal with our highest priorities and most profitable activities?

Fundamentally, we need to understand that digital communication is like any other mode – it’s about give and take, being proactive or reactive. Being mindful with your digital communications requires you to be on the front foot – in active mode choosing how and when you interact.  Rather than being pulled into the seductive world of quotes, posts and perspectives – step back and consider what would be best for your priorities and productivity.

Becoming more mindful of how and when to interact is the first step to gaining back your control and reclaiming your attention and time. Understand that being proactive with your digital life allows you to free up the time and space for more creativity, productivity and balance.

The next step is to develop the skill of structuring your time. In other words, take control of your work time and consciously confine emails and browsing to specific times of the day. Decide how much time you need to devote to emails morning and afternoon at work. For instance, you might block out 15 – 30 minutes twice a day to concentrate on dealing with the traffic productively.


Time blocking is an effective way to make your time count. Check out this game plan for managing your inbox:

  1. Time block at a certain point ie. Between 8.30-9am and 4-4.30pm.
  2. You may want to use your allocated time to respond to emails, choosing to tag emails needing more complex responses. 
  3. Use utilise apps such as Instapaper to store longer articles for reading later
  4. Be conscious of starting to time block other priority tasks using colour coding on your calendar or diary. This task driven approach will give the incentive you to check emails in five minute blocks around important priorities.
  5. When you have downtime up an unsubscribe service to declutter the amount of emails coming in that don’t fit with your current priorities. Good examples are or
  6. Confine checking your social media at meal breaks as a therapeutic reward.


Blogger Leo Barbantua of Zen Habits suggests setting a timer for 20 or 30 minutes to train yourself into the habit of time blocking your emails. 

“When the timer goes off, find gratitude that you had that time to communicate and take care of important tasks,” says Leo.  

“Let go of the rest (for now), close your email, and resist the urge to check it again later.

“Refocus yourself on something important.” Great advice I’d say.