In April 2019, I made a calculated leap of faith: I sold my pediatric Occupational Therapy practice at a school and ventured into the world of online work. The excitement of starting my morning routine in a home office was overwhelming. Being able to control my home environment was one of the deciding factors for this leap into the unknown. I painted my office walls in a soft neutral colour. A plant found it’s way onto my desk. On garden service days, I closed my office door and played calming music through headphones (don’t you just love the sound of a weedeater…). A jar of hand cream was placed within arm’s reach, mostly to be used when craving the lovely vanilla-smell filling the room when removing the lid. On cold winter days, a heated foot mat kept me warm. Life was blissful and I felt so blessed to have changed my work life to fit my sensory needs.
As a sensory avoider with low sensory thresholds, I cope best with LESS sensory input. If an environment gets too busy and loud, my productivity levels drop and I then have to exert a lot of extra mental effort to maintain a high level of work. In a quieter, calmer, more relaxed environment, I thrive and feel healthier and happier. I love working alone in my own space… not that I’m a recluse (I hope not), it just fits my sensory style best. (If you’d like to discover your sensory style, complete your Sensory Matrix™ online)
What I did not bring into account when leaping into my new work adventure, was that I’ll be joining the digital world of online work consisting of a massive population. According to Internet World Stats, there were 4,833,521,806 global internet users on 30 June 2020. So much for solitary work! Within my little 13-inch laptop screen, I was connected to a whole new community. Exciting, yet overwhelming at times.
During the past 16 months, online working and I have gone through quite a few ups and downs, adding to my love-hate relationship with the digital world. I’d like to highlight some, it might just resonate with you if you’re also part of the online work community:
An “off” button to switch everything off -vs- Nowhere to hide when you’re online
No need to travel for work -vs- A complete lack of movement while working
Customization of your desktop display and icons -vs- A quick buildup of clutter on your desktop
The ability to stand up and walk away for a break -vs- The guilt of standing up and walking away from work
Flexible working hours -vs- Working longer hours due to a lack of routine
No time wasted making small talk with colleagues -vs- Missing small talk with colleagues
Control noise levels easier -vs- Eyes and ears are fixed on your small (but busy) digital world throughout the day
The list of pros and cons is endless and will vary for each person. However, digital work is here to stay. I realized it will be most beneficial to wrap my head around my digital environment and make the best of it. Some of the strategies I’ve implemented (and do my best to follow…) are:
- Taking short movement breaks. Your body and brain need it.
- Moving my gaze away from my screen at times, to avoid “computer vision syndrome“.
- I have raised my laptop and use an external/additional keyboard to avoid a poor sitting posture.
There are lots more easy-to-implement strategies that we use as a virtual team at Sensory Intelligence® Consulting. Since your wellbeing matters to us, we’ve been sharing knowledge and ideas by means of our online workshops. To discover more simple, yet neuroscientific tools, follow the link to 7 Tips to reduce digital fatigue.
Take back control and be the master of your digital universe!