Many of us are busy digitally savvy professionals obsessed with productivity. The problem is, that digital savvy and productivity do not always go hand in hand.

For those of us who want to promote more balance in their lives - while still being plugged in a good chunk of the time - there are a few easy and quick changes that will make a huge difference in their lives. Jess Davis, founder of Folk Rebellion (a boutique lifestyle brand celebrating unplugging and striking the proper life balance), is someone people routinely come to for unplugging advice.

Here are Davis' expert tips for how to gain a huge productivity boost:

#1: Start the Day Off Right.

"Mornings should be sacred alone time for your brain," says Davis. Remove the cell phone from beside your bed. If your phone serves as your alarm clock, purchase an alarm clock for cheap. Start your day without Kardashian-related breaking news phone notifications infiltrating your brain. Use this time to set your goals for the day. Without unnecessary phone distractions, you might be able to start work earlier.

#2: Prioritize Emails.

Davis advises to handle your most important emails first, and whenever possible, batch emails together. For example, rather than bouncing between emails pertaining to 15 different projects, use keyword searches and filters to focus on one project at a time. Your brain will spend less time switching between tasks, which will let you unplug faster.

#3: Encourage Phone Calls.

Manage people's expectations about when to hear back from you via email. If they don't expect a response as quickly, they will be less likely to freak out and send multiple emails. Davis' email signature explicitly encourages phone calls if she is needed urgently.

#4: Get it Off Your Person.

Try not to have your phone in your pocket or within arms reach at all times. "As an addict myself, I notice that if its easy to reach, I check it," says Davis. To conquer this, she recommends putting some physical distance between yourself and your device. For focus, stow it away it in a desk drawer while working on deadline that require undivided attention.

#5: Social? Think Desktop.

While many of us think of phones as productivity devices, the reality is we often use them for less focused purposes. Davis recommends not checking social media on the fly; rather, consider consuming it on a desktop. Between faster Internet connections and speedier typing, one can get through their social media to-do list faster if it's on a desktop.

#6: Lunchtime Means Break Time.

"Take your lunch away from a screen," advises Davis. "Even if it's 15 minutes. Walk without your phone. I promise the world will not explode if you are unavailable for less than an hour."

#7: Always On = Less Productive.

Studies are consistently proving that the "always on" mentality leads to diminished productivity. "When you leave work, leave work," says Davis, as those who do not unplug to some extent tend to burn out. "I am sure there will be people in your life happy to see your face without the glow from your screen."

#8: Tangible Isn't a Bad Thing.

Replace screens when possible with tangible objects such as books or magazines, which help train your brain to read long form and may improve focus. Furthermore, short digestible online content forces you to click to more content more frequently, costing you precious seconds of lost productivity--which, over time, will add up.

#9: Use Your Hands.

In her research, Davis has found that people that do things with their hands for a living or have hobbies involving their hands are less 'addicted' to technology. She hypothesizes it's because their hands are always busy. "Musicians, makers, artists, dancers, athletes, yogis, surfers all are less tethered because they have something in their life where either a phone can't enter or their hands are too busy to be bothered." You might not cut out to be a yogi, but a hobby to keep your hands occupied might help you unplug.

#10: Bring Manners Back.

Be courteous and put the phone away for meetings, meals, and while being waited on either at a coffee shop, takeout counter, or restaurant. Plain and simple, it's rude not to. You may think you're being more productive, but you'll get through checkout faster if you're not distracted. At business functions, you may even meet a key new contact or close an important deal, all because you were unplugged and focused on the humans around you.


Which of the following are you currently doing? Are there any you're interested in working into your daily routine?

Published on: Jun 18, 2015
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