Digital Mindfulness for Entrepreneurs Small things that can make the use of the digital world meaningful

By Vinayak Garg

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Vision is one of the foundational blocks for any entrepreneur. What fuels most entrepreneurs is a desire to bring their thoughts to life. It is ironical the entrepreneurs would engage in a digital behaviour that allows constant interruptions in their daily work.

In modern times we have been fed by a deep-rooted myth. The myth that for us to succeed it is essential to be always online and for us to live in a constant sense of urgency.

Why is it that an instant email reply is considered a measure of dedication? Why do we feel that each phone call should be answered?

The Problem:

Imagine yourself working in an office. Now every 10 minutes, a person taps on your shoulder and demands undivided attention. You are expected to leave everything you are doing and cater to them. Would this irritate you? Would you let the people know that this is not acceptable?

We are allowing such interruptions on a daily basis without even being aware. When we open ourselves to answering emails, phone calls, smartphone notifications and engaging on social media we are allowing anyone in the world to interrupt you anytime they desire. If we won't let our office colleagues do this to us in person, why would we allow others to behave the same?

Getting out of this is simple. Not easy, but simple. Here are some tips that could help you manage technology in a more mindful manner and help you to be less stressed and be more productive.

Tame the Emails:

There is no reason to check your emails throughout the day. Checking at your email early in the morning is like letting someone else have control on your entire day.

Ideally, an entrepreneur can get by checking emails thrice a day:

  • At the start of office hours

  • In the afternoon

  • Before leaving work.

By having designated time to check emails would make you more efficient. Anytime you check your email, you should take action on it, and never leave pending conversations in the inbox.

All entrepreneurs should make it a priority to limit the incoming emails to them. Most company related emails which need to be handled by the team should come to a shared email address.

Set Aside time for Phone Calls:

Phone calls are important, but you can still make most out of them without constant interruption.

Set dedicated hours when you are open to taking phone calls, like say 12 PM to 4 PM. Whenever you need to fix a call with anyone, schedule it within these hours. There would be some exceptions now and then, but for the majority of the time, all your phone calls would be during this period.

Dedicated phone hours allows an entrepreneur to forget about the phone for the rest of the day. Also, your focus and preparedness for calls increase when you have dedicated hours for the same.

Reclaim Interruption-free Time

One can't emphasize enough the importance of having distraction-free time during the workday. The only way an entrepreneur can do extraordinary work and do it better than others is by focusing on the task at hand. Importance of interruption-free, focused work is summed up beautifully by Professor Cal Newport in his book, Deep work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

"What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore—plays in defining the quality of our life."

Consolidate Communication Channels

Do not communicate with same people over multiple different channels: Whatsapp, Slack, FB messenger, etc. Consolidate your work communication in one channel and all others in one. Mindful selection of communication channel is not only good for your sanity but will also benefit your team.

Turn Off Notifications

Have you observed the compulsive need to check the phone after you hear a notification? A notification takes you away from whatever you are doing to the notification. How many times have you felt that a notification was more important than what you were doing for building your company?

Notifications are a privilege that an app needs to earn from you.

Turn notifications on very selectively. Once you have consolidated the communication channel for your office work, you would only need notifications turned for that channel alone.

Call it a Day

One of the most important things that most entrepreneurs leave out is setting boundaries on their work-day. Off time is as much of importance as the time spent working. Unless you are recharged and get off time, you will experience lowered productivity.

Decide the end of your workday consciously. Close all the tabs on your browser so that you can start a new day on a fresh note. If there are any instructions to be given out or emails sent, do it now. Do not leave anything critical to be done later in the night.

Again, not only it will help you but will help your team too.

Vinayak Garg

Founder of LazyGardener

Vinayak Garg is the Founder of LazyGardener, a venture aimed at providing innovative and easy gardening solutions to urban gardeners.

Vinayak was among the 12 fellows chosen under the Gurukul program (2008), run by H.H. Dalai Lama’s foundation. He spent two months in the monastery of H.H. Dalai Lama, and it marked the start of his journey into mindfulness, meditation and exploring spirituality.

Vinayak is a 2014 Fellow in the Startup Leadership Program in Delhi. ZestMD won the Challenge Cup (Health, India), organized by 1776 (a startup accelerator based in Washington DC, US). Vinayak was awarded the Young Visionary Award 2012 under Indiafrica, an initiative of Govt. of India.

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