Ever feel like your tech is running you instead of the other way around? You're not alone. In this exploration of our digital lives, Dr Kristy Goodwin continues to look at the surprising ways our tech habits can affect our biology and productivity. We also discuss the fascinating world of chronotypes (your internal clock that says when you're naturally most alert), and handling "tech-xpectations" at work.
Dr. Kirsty Goodwin is a digital wellbeing advocate and neuro-productivity speaker who has shaped discussions on managing digital expectations in professional settings. An award-winning researcher, she is on a mission to promote employee wellbeing and bolster workplace productivity in an always-on digital world. Her ability to balance deep research with actionable solutions has seen her work with an impressively long list of clients including Apple, Qantas, Foxtel and several of Australia's leading banks. Her new book is Dear Digital, We need to talk: A guilt-free guide to taming your tech habits and thriving in a distracted world.
Quotes from this episode:
"Information has become so cheap... we feel like we have info-besity".
"Microsoft data tells us that we're seeing a third productivity hump in the day. We used to see one around 10 or 11am (and around) 3.30, 4.30pm. We're now seeing one between 10 and 11pm."
-Dr Kristy Goodwin
Connect with Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Dr Kristy's new book:
Dear Digital, We need to talk: A guilt-free guide to taming your tech habits and thriving in a distracted world.
Free shipping for Australian listeners only. Use code: FSDD
Get Dr Kristy's Five Essential Digital Productivity Hacks for free, and other resources:
Connect with Adelaine:
Record interviews remotely with Riverside:
Get 15% off your subscription with code: Adelaine
Host your podcast on Buzzsprout:
Get $20 Amazon gift card.
Edit interviews like a word document with Descript:
Adelaine's game-changing podcast production AI tool
Note: Some links on this page may be affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission that supports this podcast if you make a purchase through them. All recommendations are based on my personal experience and made in good faith to provide helpful resources.
Last time on this podcast, i turned my phone to grayscale and I'm the first to say that Instagram is really boring in black and white. Another thing I've found really helpful is to take my tech temptations off the home screen of my phone.Adelaine Ng:
Welcome to Upon Arrival, a show that uncovers stories and strategies that make up all the moving parts of business events tourism. I'm Adelaine Ng, and this is part two of my interview with Dr Kristy Goodwin, whose work has the power to get you properly untangled if you're feeling like your work-life balance is out of whack and you suspect that your digital habits might have something to do with it. You're even tempted to go on a digital detox holiday, which we've already established in the previous episode does not work. Dr Kristy Goodwin is a digital well-being and neuro-productivity speaker, whose new book, which I loved reading, is Dear Digital. We Need to Talk. If you missed part one of this interview, Kristy shared a lot of little-known and fascinating insights into the impact of our digital habits on our biology. If you haven't heard it yet, i'd encourage you to pause listening to this episode and go hear the previous episode first. But if you've already done that, in this second part of our chat, Kristy continues to unpack those secret tweaks we can make to actually thrive with the digital load in our world, both personal and for work, beginning with tackling digital clutter. you know, like the multiple tabs open on your computer that you can no longer keep track of And when I say you, i mean me. We also talk about understanding our chronotypes, which is how we are individually wired to peak at different parts of the day. Here's part two, jumping in from where we left off last time. I feel like I'm airing all my dirty digital laundry here. but another major area of digital disorder for me is my computer. I have not dozens but hundreds of tabs open on my computer.Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Oh, you're a tab holder, they call you.Adelaine Ng:
Yes, guilty as charged. So yes, i am multitasking between projects quite often and leaving web pages of research and reference rabbit holes open just in case And it's always just in case. And I realized my base problem is probably FOMO, which is showing up in all my digital spaces, including photos on my smartphone that I just don't delete because, hey, what if I need this angle and what if I need that angle? How do I untangle myself here to address that, that FOMO, and to make realistic and permanent changes and get all those benefits of not letting digital sort of control my life?Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Yeah, this is a tricky one, because I think again, because information has become so cheap, like it's so quick for us to open another tab, save something, send it off, access it. Google has become a verb, not just a noun, and so we feel like we were just. There's this. I often use the word infobesity. We are just processing so much more information now than we ever have. So I think it's about us first of all recognizing you know, am I ever going to sit back and look through the 106,000 photos on my camera roll? Probably not. You know the 78 tabs sitting across my internet browser. Not only are they slowing your computer down, but they are actually draining you cognitively. We know conclusive studies, neuroscientific studies, tell us that visual clutter is taxing our brain processes 11 million bits of sensory data every second. 10 million of those come through our eyes. So what we see, even if we're unaware of its impact, is having a profound effect on us. So I think it's about saying you know, is this serving me? And I'm also, like you, often have multiple tabs. I'm not quite, perhaps, the number you do, adeline, but it's-.Adelaine Ng:
I haven't found anyone worse than me. Put it that way.Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Okay, good, okay, that's fine, you can claim that one, but it's, you know, using archiving tools. So I use a tool called. I can use a couple, but the one that I really like is one called EndNote. So when I find a really good blog post, when I find an article, a research paper that I want to read, i use EndNote and it archives the website. If there's a PDF, it extracts the PDF. I can use tags so I can go back later and retrieve it quickly. I can put things in folders, so it's a digital archiving tool. So there are digital tools that will help us. There are some automatic functions that you can use that will, at the end of the day, shut down all of your tabs as well. And the good thing is, information is so accessible these days So that FOMO, you know, will I ever find that article again? Chances are you will, especially if you've archived it or you use some keywords to retrieve it. So I think it's just being aware and asking what is the purpose of what I'm doing? Is it serving me or is it enslaving me? I love those tips.Adelaine Ng:
I'm going to go look up those apps, but if you are looking at a downloads folder that is now full, i'm just trying to go. Okay. What is the action? a realistic action plan for dealing with the stuff that has already bloated your digital life.Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Are you?Adelaine Ng:
doing weekly calls, or do you not even do downloads at all? And also this zero inbox that everybody likes to talk about. that is seemingly for me anyway unachievable. So where do you go from here to start sort of taking down this very tall mountain?Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Yeah, So if you have what I call a really pronounced digital debt, if you've got the bulging email bulging inbox, you've got a download folder that won't let you download anything else. If you've got a myriad of tabs open with emails there's a concept that's been referred to as email bankruptcy. Do you need to say I'm at bankruptcy? You can archive all your emails and pop them in an archive folder. Doesn't mean they're deleted, and the search function today with most email providers is so sophisticated that you'd be able to retrieve things later on Without a downloads folder. I often think again can you take them if the clutter there is too much, and upload them to a digital server or to a hard drive? So you do have that access should you need them in the future? I did this a couple of years ago and I was convinced. I was going from one laptop to another and I thought that there's going to be all these files in my downloads folder that I will need. I copied them and it took I think eight hours to copy what was on my downloads folder and one other drive to a external hard drive. I was convinced I'd need to be pulling out that hard drive all the time. I think I used it once after that event. So I think, it's putting in place those parameters in terms of how do we keep on top of it. I think at the end of a week or maybe that cadence is too much even at the end of a month, just doing a sort of a declutter can really have a profound impact. As somebody who used to have umpteen constant tabs open, i don't always get down to one or two, but I have found having far fewer has been so much more reassuring, way less of a stress. And again something so simple but has a profound impact because they're almost like little visual reminders dotted across the screen of almost like the partial mental tabs that you've still got open in your brain. Or hang on that. What was that the article for? Who wrote that? Oh, that relates to that project. It's exhausting.Adelaine Ng:
It is, and because you know I write for a living as well, i'm always referencing. I'm always like you know, and I hate the time where I'm going where, where did I get this information from? again, like, and when I want to double check the reference, i can't and I've spent another hour just looking for it And that's probably one of the reasons why I leave those tabs open. But I did. That was before I learned about the solution that you've just shared, which I'm definitely going to weigh, check it out. But you also mentioned working with your chronotype. You have the chronotype that I want that gets up at four in the morning and has exercised and finished writing half a book by 9am. When I'm just rolling up for breakfast and doing my first Zoom call, i can't fit in the 20 to 30 minutes of natural sunlight in the first hour of waking up which you say is so important. So how do different chronotypes work with nature's rhythms? I mean, i know this doesn't sound like it's completely or very obviously connected to your digital life, but it is.Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Yes. So for those listeners who were saying what's a chronotype, your chronotype biologically dictates when you are most naturally focused and alert and it also dictates what time you naturally would like to fall asleep. Your body would naturally fall asleep, and so we are sort of categorized into three categories. We have lions, who are the early birds, we have bears that are sort of the middle of the day people and we have wolves that are our night people, or sometimes referred to as our owls, and the idea is that we should try to structure our day as best as we can to suit our chronotype. Now, the bad news is you can't actually shift your chronotype. You can't be a wolf and say I'd love to be a lion. Equally, you can't be a lion and say I'd rather be a bear. It's determined by something called our PER3 gene. Your chronotype can shift throughout your lifespan, but you can't manipulate it. So it's about how do I structure my day then? If I am a wolf, even though I'm an aspiring, or want to be lion or bear, how can I structure, scaffold my day to suit my chronotypes, biological needs? So I talk in the book about getting sunlight early in the morning. We know that on a sunny day, 10 minutes is enough. On an overcast day it needs to possibly be around 20 minutes. But sunlight exposure within the first hour of waking up will reset your circadian rhythm Magically. 16 hours later your body will start to make the sleep hormone melatonin, just by getting some exposure to sunlight. So the trick is again depending on what time you naturally woken up by an alarm clock that you need that exposure. If you wake up and getting outside, maybe you've got young children and that makes it an impossibility. Maybe you wake up and you just have to get on the train or the tram to work And you're not going to get that time. If you're the other end of the extreme and you're up really early and the sun hasn't even come up, turning on as many artificial lights as you can in your house, preferably overhead lights as opposed to sort of lamps or bottom lit lights. But overhead lights activate our ganglion retinal cells that put us in an alert focus state, so that can be another substitute as well. The trick is, if you can, to try and structure the cadence or the rhythm of your day according to your chronotype and try to be really diligent about building a fortress around your focus during your chronotype sort of prime time, that peak performance window when you're firing on all cylinders. That's the time where you have to eliminate as many distractions as possible.Adelaine Ng:
Yeah, so many useful tips And chronotypes. I think is one of the how do I say this? but our pre-COVID 9 to 5 for everybody. just, you know, just didn't suit everyone. I mean, i'm a bear, so I'm not a morning person, and yet for several years I had to get up at four something in the morning, five something in the morning to get to work. So I kind of cherish, you know, what I have now where I don't have to do that And I almost overcompensate by sometimes staying in bed for longer than I need to. So I have my own issues which I'm trying to work through. You did mention about, you know, some conversations that sometimes you need to have with your team members whenever you're talking about taming your digital life, because up to this point we've talked about how this impacts us on a personal level, but it also impacts teams and productivity in the office. So, because you've done so much work with major companies, from Apple to Qantas to a number of big banks How do our digital expectations between teammates and bosses in the workplace? we're getting texts that are way out of office hours and not knowing how to respond to them, and yet on the boss's end, sometimes they need to see that you are responding, because they feel like then I know that you're working, so how do you navigate?Dr Kristy Goodwin:
all of that? Yeah, great question, because this is something that teams throughout the world are grappling with at the moment. We know Microsoft data tells us that 42% of teams chats are now happening outside traditional work hours, so this is not something that's happening in just a couple of businesses. This is a global trend that we're seeing And I think what you described in terms of feeling like you want to be seen to be responsive, i call that digital presentism And it's this idea that, because we have distributed teams now, we used to think and I think this notion is an outdated sort of industrialized model of productivity But if you were the last person in the office or if you were seen to be pumping out big hours in the office, then there was a perception that you must be really productive, you're a high performer, a high achiever, and I think with distributed teams, we've transferred that to the digital space. I want to be seen by my boss to be responsive to email, so I will reply at 11 o'clock at night, i will write the teams chat to my colleagues, you know, at five in the morning, and this can have a contagion effect, especially if our leaders are doing this. So one of the things that I've done with a number of organizations is to help them create their digital guardrails. So this is not a policy. These are team agreements. I call them digital norms, practices and principles around how teams or how, at a macro level, organizations want to use technology, and so it's. It's creating and it's not a policy imposed on the team. The team has to or the organization has to co create these, but these are principles and norms around everything from on our virtual meetings, a cameras on or cameras off, and when a camera's on and cameras off, what's an acceptable expected internal email response rate? When would I use the teams chat versus sending an email? Do we have a communication escalation plan so that when there is a time sensitive, legitimate, urgent issue, what's the one channel through which that'll be communicated So people feel like they can switch off? Because when people are working around the clock and again Microsoft data tells us that we're seeing a third productivity hump. In the day We used to see one around 10 or 11 in the morning. We used to see one around biscuit o'clock, about 3, 34 30 in the afternoon. We're now seeing one between 10 11 at night. 28% of knowledge workers that use Microsoft products are working between 10 and 11 at night, and this can be seen two ways. It can be a marker of our more flexible work arrangements. The research suggests it can also be a marker of burnout and exhaustion. So I think these guardrails are some parameters, there's some guiding principles. They're not hard and fast rules, it's not a policy, but they give people some guardrails about how do we as an organization want to use technology so we feel like we can switch off, and the critical part is leaders need to buy into these.Adelaine Ng:
Yeah, if you're an employee and is noticing all these things and you're noticing also that your leadership isn't quite aware of the impact that it's having on the team, are there subtle ways you can just say this is something that needs to be looked into?Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Yeah, send them this podcast. This section found this really interesting. You don't have to be the bearer of bad news. I have found working with leaders that if you I mean you can take the approach. I think there's two ways to go about it. You can take the well-being approach, that I feel exhausted, i feel depleted. The research tells us that we have a concerning number We are actually global leaders here in Australia in terms of rates of burnout at the moment, stress and burnout. Microsoft data is telling us this. Other global studies are saying this is a huge issue here. So you can go the well-being route. As in my, tech habits having a profound impact on my well-being, i have found from my experience and this could be just my experience, but I think when you take the performance productivity route, you often have leaders who are interested in KPIs and outcomes and tangible, measurable deliverables. That can sometimes be more well received. So I can't perform at an optimal level if I'm still working at 11 o'clock at night. So I have found that if I can switch off, i'm much more productive the next day. But I think it's just having the opportunity to talk about these tech expectations is really, really important And I think I actually I'm quite concerned that if organizations aren't on the front foot here, if they're not coming up with some team agreements, or the digital guardrails, as I call them, i think in Australia we will soon see there's some legislation being tabled at the moment around the right to disconnect. The Australian Institute commissioned a study last year and they found I think it was 85% of Australians said they would support legislation around the right to disconnect. So I think we will soon see legislation around this space if organizations aren't being proactive here.Adelaine Ng:
Yeah, that'll be amazing. Do you see much willingness, motivation on the part of companies I mean big or small to put something like this in place?Dr Kristy Goodwin:
I am at the beginning stages. I don't think it's been voraciously adopted. I often talk to organizations about what digital distractions are costing in terms of productivity and performance And, again, when you can quantify what these things cost organizations and when you can talk about you know how we are seeing rates of burnout and the impact of burnout again on employees and leaders performance. I think then it becomes a real issue in terms of setting up the guardrails. I think that will be agreements. I think they're sometimes seen at the moment still is a nice to have. We'll get around to that. I think that, like you said at the beginning, there's a time sensitivity to this. I think one of the chief reasons why we have rates of burnout the way that we do and we can't ignore the fact we've been through a global pandemic. We are facing financial uncertainty, there's global issues that could be impacting upon us. I think they're all very valid reasons why we might see stress and burnout at all time highs, but I think one of the chief, if not the chief, reason is that subtle tech habits that are having a huge impact on us. So I think the organizations that take a proactive step will be well in advance of their colleagues and counterparts.Adelaine Ng:
Completely agree. Kristy, you're the queen of taming digital. It's easy to think that you've got this all down pat. Do you ever unravel? Do you ever personally?Dr Kristy Goodwin:
burnout Gosh. Yes, the reason I wrote this book is that I had experienced burnout twice And it was my tech habits that were out of control. It was a really serious accident that I had with my middle son, billy. I became digitally distracted triaging my inbox. Billy was climbing on a lounge He was about 15 months at the time. I was trying to triage my inbox after having flown back from an international visit And I was so distracted in my inbox that I didn't watch Billy, and Billy fell face first off the lounge and required urgent hospitalization, and it was at this point in time that I realized my tech habits were out of control. Despite researching this, despite speaking about this, i didn't have a handle on my tech habits. I'm guilty of doom scrolling social media. I'm not impartial to some trashy TV binge watching on Netflix. Selling sunset is my weakness at the moment. Please don't judge me, but it's hard And I'm not perfect at it, but I know what I can do when I really need to rein things back in And when I can take back control. I feel like I'm in a lucky, fortuitous position where I know some of the micro habits that I need to just start to reapply, but far from perfect in this space.Adelaine Ng:
Well, you've given us that exact roadmap in your book, so this is a gift, i think, to all of us. But where do you see people failing, if they do, or struggling the most when they're trying to implement these changes?Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Trying to do too many things all at once. So trying to do a radical digital overhaul or doing, you know, the extreme digital detox. I often say three to five to thrive. Pick three to five little micro habits, embed those and then move on to some others. If you try to do you know it's like changing your diet radically. You'll stick at it for a couple of days But then the willpower will deplete and you'll revert back to your old habits. I think just making small little adjustments. I often say don't try and eat the whole watermelon, just take small little bites. And I often remind people that the basics work. If you work the basics. Look at what tech habits might have the most profound impact And hopefully our conversation today will remind you, you know, could it be as something as simple as turning off your notifications. Could it be as simple as activating do not disturb or focus mode. Could it mean putting your phone somewhere where you can't see it while you get your focused work done. I think pick the lever that you could pull. That would have the biggest impact And for many it is often around our tech habits, around our sleep and our tech habits around being able to sort of switch off and decompress.Adelaine Ng:
Wonderful. That's amazing to hear all of that. I've gotten so much out of this conversation. So, Kristie, i'm sure a lot of people will be just interested to find out more. Obviously, there's your book, but where would you point people to to find out more information about you? how to get access to resources because I think you also have a few free resources as well And how do people meet you?Dr Kristy Goodwin:
Yes. So the irony isn't lost on me that I'm saying tame your tech habits, but come and have a look at what I share on social media on my website. But if you want a legitimate reason to get your dopamine hit online, if you can say you know I'm doing some research or it's work related. I do have a website that's got lots of blogs and resources. It's called drcrystigoodwincom And I do try and share bite-size tips and bits of information on social media platforms, in particular Instagram, if you like the pretty pictures in the behind the scenes information and just small little tips and ideas. And LinkedIn is more of my professional presence. So that's the digital playgrounds I play in.Adelaine Ng:
Kristy, thank you so much. This has been illuminating And I wish you all the success and best for the message that you are sharing, because it is so so much needed today. So thank you.Dr Kristy Goodwin:
My pleasure. Thank you for this conversation.Adelaine Ng:
Thanks for listening. I do appreciate it. Do check out the show notes, where I've put links to Kristy's new book, dear Digital. We Need to Talk a guilt-free guide to taming your tech habits and thriving in a distracted world, as well as ways you can reach Kristy directly or find out more about her work. If you found value in today's show, please click the follow button if you'd like to be notified when a new episode drops. By the way, have you ever considered launching a podcast with a strategy to land in Apple's top 200 charts in the first week? If so, feel free to send me an email at uponarrivalpodcast@ gmail. com and we'll explore how we can make that happen. Catch you next week for another great interview to uncover more stories and strategies for a successful future. Till then, cheers.