Many things in life are so much more convenient (and often better) with tech. We can make purchases, stay in touch with friends and family, compare options for services, and even do remote work from anywhere with an internet connection.
Tech also gives us a variety of fantastic tools for things like improving productivity, running a business, and exploring our creative side. Unfortunately, though, many of us don’t always use tech to improve our lives; instead, we develop bad digital habits.
What Are Digital Habits?
Before going further, it’s important to clarify what we mean by digital habits. Anything you do on a routine basis with tech (good or bad) is a habit.
Healthy digital habits include limiting the amount of time you spend on your devices, using tech for personal or professional development, and making life better for those around you.
Bad digital habits, though, may contribute to laziness and wasted time, involve unnecessary purchases, or mean you spend too much time sitting.
Digital Habits Across Generations
It’s not uncommon for people of older generations to complain that young people are ruder, less considerate, and more selfish than any generation before. Often, they put the blame on new advances in society.
However, these people willfully forget that when they were younger, older generations said very similar things about them — not about digital habits per se, but about their lifestyle choices and other behaviors. Technically, it all comes down to the same thing.
In fact, this has been a trend throughout history — we can actually trace instances back through the centuries. As a rule, each older generation thinks the youngest generation is the worst yet. Today the culprit may be smart phones, but in the past it was cinema, chess, waltz, and even umbrellas.
The truth is, we can all do better when it comes to digital habits: it’s not a generational thing. No matter if you’re 20 years old, 70 years old, or something in between, you could be more successful if you adopted more healthy digital habits and dropped your bad habits.
Digital Habit Examples of Successful People
Certain digital habits are common among successful people. Many of these habits even contribute (directly or indirectly) to success.
By emulating these behaviors, you can become more productive, improve your relationships, and even see better physical health.
1. Turn Off Phone Notifications
Whenever they need to be undisturbed (such as when they’re working on something that requires focus or in a meeting), successful people turn off all but the essential notifications on their phones. In fact, throughout the day, they keep push notifications for personal apps turned off — this removes the temptation to glance down at the phone when it pings.
Not only does this contribute to greater performance at work, it also eliminates the incredibly rude (and unfortunately common) habit of looking at one’s phone for something menial when in company.
2. Regularly Delete Old Apps
It’s time consuming to turn off alerts app by app. You can speed up the process by deleting all those apps you downloaded only to realize they have no value for you.
Successful people make a habit of going through their phone every couple of months to delete such apps. This digital minimalism approach can also help you feel more organized and calmer.
3. Send Emails During Business Hours
Sending emails at appropriate times is particularly important for business owners and managers, as employees may feel they are required to answer as soon as they receive the message. Whenever you need to send a non-urgent email, it’s better to leave it until the next day.
When successful people write emails late in the day, they save them as drafts — or, if they’re worried they’ll forget to hit send, they use a scheduling tool like Boomerang for Gmail.
4. Leave Their Phones Alone in the Morning
The only thing successful people use their phones for in the morning is an alarm. Once they’ve stopped the alarm (no hitting snooze!), they put their phones aside until they’ve at least finished their morning routines.
Try this to see for yourself how it puts you back in control of your day, particularly because it allows you to decide how you’ll spend your time. Most significantly, you’ll have time to think before you find out what others are demanding from you.
5. Have an Uncluttered Home Screen
If you look at successful people’s home screens, you may be surprised at how few apps there are.
Successful people tend to have just the most important apps visible — particularly ones for which there is no appeal to open, like map, calculator, riding sharing, and phone call apps. They put all the rest of their apps on screens that take a little more effort to reach.
This may not seem like much, but apps that are out of sight are out of mind, and one mindless tap on an app you didn’t need to open can waste a significant amount of time.
6. Set Their Phones to Grayscale
Phones are designed to be addictive. The bright colors and apps with attractive icons draw us in. Successful people are often just as prone to these temptations as anyone else.
What they do differently is set their phones to grayscale — at least during working hours. Everything looks far less enticing when it’s black and white, which helps them to focus on what actually matters.
Note that this tip works for all iOS phones (including older operating systems), but only for some Android phones.
On iPhone, you can enable grayscale as an “Accessibility Shortcut.” When enabled, you can activate or deactivate grayscale by triple-clicking the home button. The setup for Android depends on the model.
7. Take a Break from Social Media
A particularly addictive aspect of tech is social media. Even the most disciplined people struggle to stop checking their accounts — which is why more are starting to delete their accounts altogether.
Contrary to popular perceptions about who uses social media the most, Gen Z users are actually leaving platforms in droves.
A survey of around 1,000 respondents found that almost two-thirds said they would be taking a break and more than a third said they were quitting platforms permanently.
Many people actually find that they feel more connected to people around them when they stop seeing endless updates about how great everyone else’s lives are.
8. Back Up Their Data
Losing important files or data should be a thing of the past. For successful people, it is: they back up their data automatically by storing it on the cloud and regularly create backups of the most important or sensitive information on a physical hard disk.
They never wait until a disastrous breach or data loss to develop this crucial habit.
9. Unsubscribe from Email Mailing Lists
It’s impossible to reach the ultimate goal of inbox zero (or at least stay there for long) if you’re receiving countless emails every day.
Successful people don’t ignore those emails they’re never going to read: they unsubscribe from the mailing list. It takes almost no effort to remove yourself from all the mailing lists you’ve ended up on and you’ll reap the benefits every day.
10. Stick to a Schedule
Instead of dealing with emails as they arrive, successful people schedule time each day to focus on their inbox. This may be just once a day or it could be as many as three times a day — the number of times matters less than the fact that they’re not constantly checking email throughout the day.
This tactic also applies to other digital habits that can end up wasting a large amount of time, including social media, research, and calendar management.
11. Spend Time Device Free
Those with the healthiest digital habits spend a few hours each day away from screens entirely. They use this time to pursue hobbies and other activities, such as a workout, a walk in the park or forest, art projects, and reading print books.
In addition, successful people always put their phones away when they’re around others, such as when they’re with their kids or spouse, at mealtimes, and when socializing with friends.
If the conversation tapers off, they don’t reach for their phone to check for new messages or scroll through their social media feeds.
Instead, they show those around them that they care about the relationship by thinking of a new topic of conversation!
Bad Digital Habits and How to Break Them
A second area to focus on is breaking your current bad habits. This may be harder than adopting good digital habits, but it’s still achievable.
Having Countless Open Tabs on Your Browser
With so much great content online, it’s easy to fall into the trap of opening tabs to read later. If you do this throughout the day, you’ll quickly have a huge number of open tabs. The problem with this is it makes it more difficult to find the information you actually need.
When you’re searching for the right tab, you may come across something you’d forgotten about and start reading that instead. Plus, one tab may have a flashing notification that you can’t resist.
To quit this habit, think carefully about what tabs you open. Then, skim the content to decide if it’s interesting or useful. If you decide you would like to check out the content in more depth later, bookmark the page or add it to your browser’s Reading List. Schedule time in the week specifically to read through the pages you’ve saved to avoid accumulating a long list.
In addition to this, bookmark or close all the tabs you still have open at the end of the day. This will allow you to start tomorrow with a clean slate.
Spending Too Much Time on an Unproductive Activity
Many of us have that one (or perhaps more than one) activity we spend far too much time on. It could be social media, gaming, online shopping, or something else. The easiest solution to cut down is to set a time limit for the app you’re using.
Once you’ve reached the limit, your device will give you a warning or lock you out of the app unless you enter a password. If you’re struggling with self-discipline, ask someone else to set the password. You should have the option to set different time limits for weekdays and weekends to give yourself slightly more freedom on your days off.
Never Leaving Your Phone Alone
If you find that you’re attached to your phone from morning to night, your best option may be to physically distance yourself from it.
For instance, you could buy a basic alarm clock and remove your charger from your bedroom to keep your phone out of your room at night. (This also reduces your exposure to the blue light that makes it harder for you to fall asleep.) If you find yourself reaching for your phone during the day when you should be doing something else, put your phone in another room.
If that’s not an option, just shutting it in a drawer or even it turning face down can mean you grab it less.
You may feel like you use your phone a reasonable amount, but perhaps your family members disagree. Try this exercise: keep a tally of how many times a day you check your phone. You’ll likely be surprised at the number. Once you have a baseline, set a target to check your phone less.
Constantly Checking Social Media
If you’re not ready to take the leap and delete your social media profiles entirely, at least remove some of the apps from your phone. This is a good option if turning off push notifications doesn’t prove to be enough. You may be surprised to find that it doesn’t occur to you to check your accounts as often when you need to use the web versions.
Another way to achieve healthier digital habits is to delegate many of the tasks that mean you’re constantly looking at your phone, procrastinating, or breaking your concentration — namely, admin tasks.
With a virtual assistant, you can delegate activities like inbox management, scheduling and calendar management, posting social media updates, and research.
A general virtual assistant from MYVA360 can do all this and more. Request a free trial to see for yourself how having a virtual assistant could help you maintain better digital habits.