In today’s competitive business world, no entrepreneur would deny the importance of digital technology. From keeping in touch with former colleagues to using apps that boost our operational efficiency, we rely on our smartphones and tablets to make the most of each day.
Of course, there is also a dark side to technology that we can’t ignore. The addictive nature of technology can have a negative impact on entrepreneurs and hurt their chances of success.
How can you prevent digital technology from being a huge time waster? We reached out to seven savvy entrepreneurs to find out how they manage their digital lives:
1.) Go hands free. Many of us use the early morning to check our email and read the headlines. Unfortunately, this eats up a lot of time that is better spent with family. What’s the solution?
For one entrepreneur, the answer was as simple as getting a voice assistant to tell him the latest news and weather in the morning.
“I was checking my email first thing in the morning. But I’m responsible for breakfast and packing lunches for my two kids, so this wasn’t a good combo,” he says. “We got a Google Home Assistant. I can ask about the weather and the news while making bagels and lunches. No screen-time.” Mark Aselstine, founder of Uncorked Ventures
2.) Remove your biggest digital temptations. Some dieters won’t keep junk food in the house to ensure that they won’t cave in to their temptations. When it comes to digital technology, YouTuber and business owner Aaron Marino follows a similar philosophy.
“When I work and my phone is next to me, I get so much less accomplished… I’m constantly looking at it and picking it up just to see what’s going on…I put (my phone) on silent – I put it across the room upside-down. That way, I don’t see it light up, I don’t hear it buzz, nothing is ringing.” Aaron Marino, YouTuber and co-founder of men’s skin care brand Tiege Hanley
3.) Ask family and friends to keep you in check. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking a business partner, friend or family member to help you put down your digital devices can be an extremely effective way to curb your digital addiction.
“Other people are usually more than happy to keep you in check if you struggle with self-regulation,” she says. “And as you learn your cutoff point, strive to check yourself as much as you can to avoid wasted time in front of a screen.” Nicole Faith, founder of 10 Carat Creations
4.) Do tasks that require both hands. For many entrepreneurs, work is their passion but finding another hobby that doesn’t involve digital technology can help you disconnect for a while.
“My advice is to find something you’re passionate about outside of work that requires you to be device-free. I try to cook dinner every night; doing tasks that require two hands definitely helps me stay device-free.” Graham Shorr, Chief of Staff at SquareFoot
5.) Block distracting websites. As most of us know, social media can be a huge time waster. If you struggle to avoid these websites, consider installing a website blocker to keep you from checking them during the day.
“A huge digital time-saver for my entrepreneurial clients is adding internet browser extensions to block distracting websites,” she says. “I personally use StayFocusd for Google Chrome, which works by setting a daily time limit for distracting websites and blocking those websites entirely once that limit is reached. Two other options are Cold Turkey and FocalFilter.” Jennifer Stewart, Productivity + ADHD Coach at Gateway Productivity
6.) Meditate. Successful business owners such as Russell Simmons and Ariana Huffington swear by daily meditation for its potential to improve mental focus. One entrepreneur also finds that meditation helps him realize how much time he spends on his phone.
“I have started using a meditation app which has made me more aware of myself and my actions,” he says. “This includes technology, and how often I’m on my phone when I’m around or playing with my children. It makes you more aware, mindful and focused.” Adam Gore, Find Me a Gift
7.) Schedule time for digital usage. For many of us, there is no 100 percent curbing of digital time. Instead, it makes more sense to be realistic about how much time we spend on social media and the like, each day.
If staying away from social media and email isn’t possible for you, consider scheduling a time for them.
“I literally schedule blocks of time for email and social media – it’s like a public meeting for me. Since it has a beginning and an end time, I’m moderating myself but I’m also allowing some realistic time for usage…When it comes to email, I let clients know that it’s not something they should expect an immediate response all the time. It’s about setting expectations.” Steve Hammer, founder of RankHammer
For entrepreneurs who rely on technology to run their business, curbing digital addiction can be challenging. When faced with so many things to do each day, it’s all too easy to waste time checking emails and social media.
In the digital age, there is simply no way to completely erase digital technology from an entrepreneur’s life. However, these savvy entrepreneurs have figured out clever ways to balance their digital time and focus on the things that truly matter.