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The Unseen Reason You Feel So Overwhelmed — and How It Impacts Your Business Feelings of tiredness and exhaustion are on the rise. Here are a few tips to combat the symptoms within your own business to boost productivity and employee morale.

By Joy Gendusa Edited by Chelsea Brown

Key Takeaways

  • To counteract the negative effects of digital overload and maintain meaningful connections in the workplace, leaders should create opportunities for in-person interactions.
  • Strategies include replacing some virtual meetings with face-to-face meetups, organizing team-building events and encouraging off-screen organization and productivity tools to improve staff performance.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In 1998, when I started my business, PostcardMania, the first cell phone with a color screen hit the market. Facebook didn't exist, phones absolutely didn't fit in our pockets, and people still wrote checks in the grocery store.

The internet was in its infancy, and we weren't saturated with tech to where it overtook our daily lives. It was new and fascinating but still relegated to a desktop.

Just two decades later, and we can't go a single day without our smartphones in our hands, social media has replaced most personal interactions, and checks are obsolete with cash not far behind.

Between 2000 and 2018, studies show that the average American has nearly tripled their time online, going from 9.4 hours online per week to 23.6 in 2018 — and that was pre-pandemic. Some studies put the jump in pandemic screen time between 60-80% for adults. All this scrolling has us feeling some type of way: 46% of the respondents in one study said too much screen time was a major culprit of constant tiredness.

Not only does digital overwhelm distract us — a study found that U.S. residents check their smartphones 352 times a day, affecting our productivity — but it can also lead to real health issues. Medical research concludes that too much screen time leads to insomnia, visual problems, decreased bone density and high blood pressure. Beyond physical ailments, digital overload has effects on our mental and emotional health, increasing anxiety and depression.

Some businesses see the solution as an outright cell phone ban at work. Yet this can lead to disgruntled employees who feel more like toddlers at daycare than entrusted adults. I've always found people respond best to autonomy — give them ownership over something, and their care factor increases.

There is a better way to balance a modern workplace to maintain meaningful connections and accomplish our goals for success. All it takes are some intentional changes...

Related: The Dangers of Digital Fatigue, and How to Prioritize Your Mental Health

Create new opportunities for in-person connection at work

The pandemic reshaped the workplace when work-from-home rates tripled from 2019 to 2021, but it may have created disconnection for the sake of convenience. So how can you reforge those in-office connections?

Try replacing one Zoom meeting a week with in-person meetups, either at the office or even at a local coffee shop. Or host one large company-wide meeting once a week in person (like I do) so that the entire staff can see each other face to face across separate departments.

Besides simply meeting about projects, start implementing fun, team-building events that create moments for genuine connection and creativity. Let each department in your company brainstorm and come up with these fun activities, like mini golf, going to an escape room or obstacle course. Even working out together a couple times a week could be a way to bring team members together.

Improve staff performance with off-screen organization and productivity tools

It probably doesn't surprise you that someone like me — the CEO of a multi-million-dollar direct mail company — would still enjoy checking the mailbox every day and fingering through the letters and cards to see what's there. But these days, I'm noticing more professionals putting their phones down and picking up paper and a pen.

Whether someone is mailing a letter, writing in a journal or sitting down to plan out their week with a calendar book, there is something alluring about striking a smooth piece of paper with ink and marking our goals, thoughts and desires down.

The deliberate act of interacting with a physical object forces us to slow down, savor the moment and be fully present in the experience. Help staff members plan out their weeks and avoid digital distractions by giving them paper planners, desk calendars or journals. Consider investing in branded journals as well to improve company morale and pride.

The benefits may trickle down to your bottom line — numerous studies show that reading comprehension, focus and memory can all be improved by switching from screen-based reading to something paper-based.

Related: The Surprising Reason Why This Young Tech Entrepreneur Swears By Pen and Paper

Use direct mail marketing to increase revenue and cover expenses

Creating more in-person meetups and events as well as giving out more tangible tools for organization does have a cost. One way to increase your budget for these objectives is to drive up revenue with direct mail marketing.

The United States Postal Service partnered with researchers from Temple University's Center for Neural Decision Making to study the reason print holds more gravitas for us as humans. Turns out, after intense scientific study, the reason direct mail makes a greater impact is because of the way our brains respond to stimulation.

Holding a physical advertisement activates our senses of touch, smell and sight and elicits an emotional response inside a specific neural area of the brain that allows us to recall the ad for a longer period of time. Ultimately, the study determined that print ads increased the desirability of the product as opposed to digital ads that were forgotten faster.

Not only can direct mail make a great impression on your target audience and ideal customer, its response rate is up to nine times higher than that of email. In fact, in 2023, 74% of marketers agreed that direct mail delivers the best return on investment.

Also, studies found that there was an 18% greater return on investment when the business incorporated direct mail in their multichannel marketing mix as opposed to relying on digital alone.

One of my clients, an RV and motor home flipper, mailed about 24,000 postcards and made $50,000 in revenue for an ROI of 590%. We have over 700 other direct mail case studies with even more eye-popping ROIs, some as high as several thousand.

Related: How to Boost Your Business With Direct Mail Automation and Retargeting — a Detailed Beginner's Guide

After making some of these adjustments, write down exactly how those changes affected your business and relationships. You might be surprised to find how much value is added to your day-to-day life by disconnecting from the digital every so often and focusing on the magic of the tangible.

Joy Gendusa

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder/CEO of PostcardMania

Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998 with just a phone & a computer (no funding or investments), and today we generate over $100 million annually with 365 staff. I'm passionate about helping small businesses succeed at marketing and grow — because when small business does well, we all win.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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