How can you keep technology from taking over your life?
WHENEVER I’M ABOUT TO write an article or blog post, I shut down my computer’s PDF reader, Safari and email programme. If I forget to do this, every ten minutes an email comes in or a Facebook message that someone liked my post or comment – or disliked it, which is even a stronger trigger for me to go straight to Facebook, article or no article to write.
It doesn’t matter what I’m writing about in that particular moment… I simply have to check the message because I’m so curious I can’t resist it.
It also happens that I’m struggling to write, and rather than staring to a blank page I get this urge to check my email or graze my Facebook feed, desperate to find distraction and inspiration.
Not really mindful, eh?
If you’re more connected than me, owning the latest smart phone (I have a prehistoric one that promotes patience like nothing else) and following Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and all those trendy platforms and apps which my hardware can’t even handle… then you’ll probably find yourself even more challenged than I am.
All that information which you’re chewing away mindlessly ultimately clogs up your head and makes it hard to give your busy brain a break. Resulting in irritability, hypersensitivity and chronic sleeplessness. But what do you do if you don’t sleep well? You tiptoe downstairs and browse the web just to relax and try to get sleepy again. But browsing the web will only agitate your mind even more, so that you’ll find it harder and harder to sleep. And this is how the vicious circle of technology addiction closes its unforgiving fist around your poor brain and starts to squeeze it really hard.
So let’s be brave and face our technology dependency today!
Practise mindfulness today
1. Check email on set times only
Limit the amount of times that you check your email. Resolve to check it once an hour, or only once in the morning, the afternoon and the evening. This way you prevent yourself from checking your email every 5 minutes while you’re trying to do some work, after which you'll need 5 minutes to get your focus back on track.
2. Close programmes if you need to focus
If you’re writing a report, you only need Windows or Pages – nothing else. If you’re reading an article in a website, make sure you’ve only opened that website, and no other ones nor your email programme.
3. Limit digital newsletters
Take some time to check all the newsletters you’re receiving, and decide which ones you can let go of. Senseless sales emails with the-deal-of-the-day not only clog your inbox, but also your mind.
4. Turn off chat
If you only want to have a quick browse through the posts on the social media platforms you’re on, make sure you turn off the chat options so that you won’t be dragged into shallow but time-consuming conversations.
5. Choose a neutral-looking homepage
Choose something boring like Google or Yahoo as your homepage. This way you won’t be dragged into Facebook or Pinterest as soon as you open your browser to do some real work (like research)… this will prevent you from wandering (and getting lost) into a social media platform or news website.
6. Use your digital TV recorder or TV-on-demand
This helps you to choose the shows you want to watch consciously and stops you from spending hours watching a movie with time-consuming advertising blocks. Select with care and watch when you have time.
7. Hide the clock on your computer screen
Looking at the clock doesn’t cost anything, but the effect of this simple action does. Checking the time too often triggers stressful thoughts about how late it is, what you were supposed to have accomplished (and haven’t) and all the stuff you still have to do in too little time. Without a clock you liberate yourself from all these unproductive thoughts which not only cost you time, but energy as well.
8. Use your phone’s mute options
Turn the messenger option of your smart phone on silent, because we all know that as soon as we hear a beep or tone, we simply need to read the message. If your phone can’t make you aware of every message, you won’t be distracted and you’ll be able to work in a focussed state-of-mind.
9. Schedule for breaks
The less breaks you take, the more you’ll want to escape from your tasks by checking Youtube of Facebook. So be smart and take a few minutes every hour to stretch your legs, walk to the water cooler, look out of the window or talk to a co-worker. After each of those mini-breaks you’ll feel refreshed and more motivated to get back and focus on work.
10. Appreciate relations with real people
No matter how cool and connected you appear to be when you’re online every minute of the day… to impulsively react to every message and post while you’re with a friend, seriously undermines and damages that relationship. You don’t really pay attention to the other person if you’re so desperate to check your phone with every beep it makes. Realise that real people, the ones you work and hang out with, are irreplaceable. Believe me, your smartphone won’t be the one holding your hand when you’re ill or dying (and for sure, this is going to happen one day). In your darkest hours, real people are the ones who’ll comfort and support you, not your digital toys. Keep investing in relations and cherish them. As soon as you have a coffee or sit around the dinner table with people who are important to you (your partner, children, parents, friends or colleagues), turn off your phone, computer and TV and give them your sincere and undivided attention.
P.S. Would you like to learn how to live a more relaxed, mindful life? Then buy my digital Karma Kickstart course today. You don't have to learn to meditate, but you can start right away with super practical exercises which adapt easily to your everyday routines. With my approach you don't have to plan or schedule – you simply practise with your daily tasks.
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