There’s so much tech surrounding us – from the multiple devices we use to the websites we visit. Our everyday interaction with tech has fundamentally changed how we connect with each other. We spend most of our waking time in front of screens and studies have linked our heavy use of tech to the negative physical and psychological health effects it causes such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, and depression.
I am no angel either, although I would not particularly label myself a tech addict, however, I use it for work, entertainment and to communicate with friends and family and this has led me to adopt really bad habits which some of you can relate to – as soon I wake up, the first thing I reach out for is my phone to check Instagram posts (memes), how many reactions I got from my previous Facebook post, who viewed my WhatsApp status from last night to lazily browsing through my Twitter mentions and timeline.
The average smartphone user checks their device 150 times a day
I work from home most of the time, so my day will be spent staring at a display, mostly my laptop but my phone is not spared either. On normal days, I would be in bed around 10-ish, pretending to fall asleep but I would quickly find myself catching up on Netflix until I eventually pass out way past midnight, sometimes at ungodly hours. These unchecked habits always left me exhausted to the point of almost being burned out. I had to change some tech habits and set boundaries which I’m going to share:
Start your day the right way – get a physical alarm clock so that your phone isn’t the first thing you check once you wake up. Spend some time on you through meditation – this will boost your energy, enhance awareness and set you up to thrive.
Streamline your work to make technology work for you – limit the sites you browse when you’re online and stick to ones that bring you more value. Strip away social media or cut the time you spend at the sites during work hours as lazy browsing can lower your productivity. If willpower fails, get extensions (StayFocusd) for your browser or apps (Clearlock, Offtime) that turn your smartphone into a dumb phone for a time period you specify.
Take a mini-break – this is for those whose job keeps them in front of the computer for most parts of the day, there are ways to unplug that don’t involve you scrolling through Instagram or playing Candy Crush. Go check out Lumosity.com, which is a brain training game that will sharpen your memory and attention during your tech break. If you usually check emails or social media during your commute, how about you carry a physical book or get the Kindle app like I do and catch up on the books you said you were going to read as your new year resolutions. The world will not end if you don’t post details of your day on social media.
When you leave work, really leave it behind – Don’t be tempted to check emails – unless you’re the President, work-related emails can wait until the following day.
Set a bedtime for your tech – we all know how the blue light from the screens of our devices ruins our sleeping patterns. Having a time where you can’t use your devices or go online will help you wind down. Use this time to catch up with family or read a book. This will make it easy for you to go to sleep and have a good night’s rest.
Have a dedicated time slot where you get to do anything with your devices – from playing Candy Crush to scrolling through Instagram without the guilt. This will help you stay focused during the work hours and get you into a pattern of using your tech time more wisely.
Enjoy living in the present – in this age of Instagramming or tweeting every moment. You don’t have to document everything. It’s okay to do things and not post them or have parts of your life undocumented. It’s restorative to detach from it all – to pay attention and seize awareness of the present.
These habits will make you the master of technology instead of you being its slave. In the long run, you’ll be much happier and healthier. So each time you pick your phone to check Instagram, ask yourself, “is what I’m about to do really worth my time?”
Devices and social media will be here with us in the long run and it is up to us to decide how much of our time we will dedicate to them.