Lets face it, smart phones are bloody handy. No matter how many flowers are in your hair or how bare and dirty your feet are these little rectangles make our lives easier. My inner hippie and I argue about it frequently but it is what it is. Unless you are Amish, technology is here to stay.
And that’s fine – technology is not (always) the bad guy. I love being able to connect with my tribe through it and I am constantly inspired by the people and movements that are delivered to me by it. But the thing is, a lot of us are spending way too much real time in a virtual word. Our noses stuck to screens that do not serve us.
I am not ashamed to say that I struggle with it! I have a job that is heavily entrenched in social media and it is all too tempting to get stuck down the Facebook rabbit hole. You feel me right? One second you are on your phone for a valid reason the next you are 53 photos deep into a wedding album of a girl you haven’t seen since highschool with a million things better to do.
But it’s not just the time-wasting aspect that is affecting us. Back in the day the sun would go down and it would tell our bodies to turn off and go to sleep. There may be a few candles but that’s it. Now as soon as the sun goes down the TV and lights come on and our body clocks – our circadian rhythm – is thrown out the window. The combination of exposure to light and bad sleep comes along with a whole host of health problems – depression being a large one.
So after an eye-opening cafe experience the other day (70% of people on their phones, entire tables not talking) I decided I was going to get real and break this addiction. I was going to get serious about turning off technology. A black-out if you will. And you know what? Since embarking on this little experiment, my productivity has improved, my sleep has too, and I am just more present in general. Big wins. Won’t you join me?
1. Get rid of it
The most obvious (and some would say impractical) solution. I got rid of my TV two months ago and it has been such a fantastic decision. I was so nervous that it was the wrong decision but the improvement to our household has been dramatic. Why not trial it for a week and see what happens? (I wrote about last years attempt here).
2. Turn-off notifications and delete apps
I deleted both my Facebook and my email apps. I felt like I was breaking up with someone at first but my wandering fingers could not be trusted. I have not regretted it. This was definitely a big win for me. All of a sudden I started noticing the scenery again while I was a passenger in the car and a much better conversationalist.
3. Out of sight, out of hand
If your phone is sitting next to you at your desk, at dinner, on the couch, in bed etc then it is a fact – you are going to use it more. Every buzz or light-up will draw you in like a moth to a flame. We can’t be blamed – we are curious. So have a place to keep your phone which will keep it out of sight. I put mine in a drawer, kept slightly ajar, so if it rings I can still hear it. Which brings me to my next point…
4. Get a watch!
Those gorgeous time-telling bracelets we all used to wear are null and void nowadays because at the click of a silky smooth circle, our phone will tell us the time. But the problem is that once you’ve picked it up for “the time” it is a slippery slope to ‘just check Twitter/Instagram/email’ as well. Get a watch. Use that instead.
5.Never use more than one piece of technology at a time
This is taught in Presence 101. If you are watching TV – put your phone away. If you are talking on the phone – turn off the TV. If you are on the computer – don’t have a million tabs open. When we stop multi-tasking we can be completely present and give the respect and attention the task deserves.
6. Check only at certain times
I have changed my practice so that I only check emails twice a day. I have restricted my social media interactions to four times daily in 15 minute chunks – which is still pretty generous! With a time limit like that it is much easier to avoid clicking through an entire slideshow of cute sloth pictures. But hey, now that you mention it…
7. Batch post
If you are a blogger or use social media for your work then batch all your techno-tasks into blocks. In Facebook for example, you can schedule your statuses. So I try to write the entire weeks statuses ahead of time and schedule them. Then there is less urgency to get on there and you are not constantly thinking about it. This skill can be applied to anything and has revolutionised my time-management.
Have designated times when your phone (and if you have a family – all your phones) are not allowed. You could disallow them before all the morning chores are done, at the dinner table and then after, say, 8:30pm? Go for the busy times and the quality times.
9. Fight fire with fire
If you are still finding the gravitational pull too great then don’t fear… there’s an app for that! You can download Cold Turkey here which will temporarily block you off of social media sites, addicting websites, games and even programs. And I’ve heard great things about this Selfcontrol app for MAC users. Still searching for a PC version.
10. But most of all…
Ask the question. Why are you really reaching for your phone? Dig deep down into those urges and examine them. Are you lonely? Or bored? Do you just really, really not want to do the dishes? Whatever it is, it is the key to breaking the addiction. Once you know why you are reaching for it you can cut it off at the pass and rewire your triggers. If it is boredom, go for a walk or read a book. Loneliness? Journal it out, call a loved one, meet up with friends or volunteer at a dog-walking charity. Turn your addiction into a positive life-habit and we are all better off.
I want to know; have you tried to break-up with technology? What tips and tricks worked for you?