Health and Medicine

These tech tools improve digital health

Strike the right work-life balance in the new year with these ITS tips to lower stress and increase productivity.

Student laying down on the main quad with a laptop placed on their legs.
(Johnny Anrews, UNC-Chapel Hill)

As the new year begins, resolve to make some changes to improve your digital wellness and find healthy ways to balance your use of technology. Here are a few tech tips for tools ITS provides that may help you find the right balance.

Automate blocking your calendar

Lower stress and increase productivity by blocking your calendar for uninterrupted work time. Microsoft can even do it for you automatically. Use the Viva Insights app in Microsoft Teams or in your browser to automate your time blocking with “focus time.” Viva Insights will prompt you to choose to protect selected times based on your current meetings. Just click the suggested time, and Viva Insights will make a calendar appointment for you. You can also click “protect time” to set up recurring time blocks. It will ask if you prefer morning or afternoon focus time and how much time you’d like to protect each day.

Disengage from app notifications

Installing work apps on your personal devices can be a great way to stay plugged in. It can also keep you from fully disengaging when work hours are over. To mute your mobile notifications when you’re taking a break or off the clock, set daily quiet hours or enable “do not disturb” in the Outlook and Teams apps.

In the Outlook app, tap the menu in the upper left, then the alarm clock icon in the upper right. Choose to pause notification by times, days or during appointments. There are easy toggles for disabling notifications on weekends or evenings. You can still open the app and check for messages if needed.

For Teams, choose either “quiet hours” or “quiet days.” Tap your profile and choose “notifications” from the main menu. Then, configure how and when Teams should disable notifications to your device.

Take time to recharge

Blocking time on your calendar can go hand in hand with taking some time away from your desk. A few minutes to recharge with a cup of tea or a short walk can help you refocus and feel more energized. Another way to recharge at work is to switch tasks. Switching to learning is an excellent choice. ITS provides LinkedIn Learning free to students, faculty and staff. To begin, simply activate LinkedIn Learning using your Onyen. For more details, visit Learning in Carolina Talent.

Have healthier online meetings

Here are a few tips for finding space for digital wellness in your meetings.

Make them shorter. Brain imaging research from Microsoft showed that just a few minutes between meetings made a significant positive difference in stress levels and cognitive processing. In Outlook, set a shorter default duration, like 30 minutes. You can also choose the “end early” or “start late” setting to build in a buffer or break time.

Hide self-view. Zoom fatigue is real. Recent studies have shown that for most people, having their camera on during meetings is more fatiguing than having the camera off. Try keeping your camera on but disabling self-view and see if that lessens the fatigue. Here’s how you can hide your video in Zoom and in Microsoft Teams meetings.

Use an avatar. Another choice is to swap your camera for an avatar. With Zoom, you can enable an avatar that will show instead of your camera feed. In your meeting, the avatar reflects your facial expressions and head movements, so you can take a break from being on-camera while still giving visual feedback to your colleagues.

Don’t skimp on other engagement. Use the reactions button to give feedback. Reactions like thumbs up, applause, hearts and the laughing emoji help show you’re engaged.

Read more about digital wellness.