If you're anything like me, you totally obsess over technology. I've been ready for this since I was in elementary school. I remember when I was 9 I transformed a 4x3in metal box into a tiny laptop computer with some paper, marker and glue skills. I also remember telling my mom that I didn't need my school books because they would all be on floppy disks one day. Don't judge me I had to work within the confines of technology at the time. But one thing little sage Ally couldn't predict was how the next wave of tech would impact our psyches.
We all know the symptoms, anytime anyone's phone rings or dings we all look at our hand, any vibration is a message, many conversations are ruined by constantly looking at your phone. The list goes on. We are becoming conditioned like Pavlov's dogs to jump when our phone says jump. Then with our world getting ever flatter there is no longer any excuse to avoid a phone call or miss an email. We are required to be plugged in 24 hours a day and how can anyone manage that level of demand? Here I have highlighted 7 things that I have found most helpful with clients and myself. Let me know if you've tried any of these things and how they worked for you.
1. Turn off your notifications
Obviously, there are some notifications that are utterly necessary, but there are others that are far less important. As we download more and more apps and subscribe to more campaigns we become inundated with buzzes and bings until it's hard to focus. Shutting off unnecessary notifications is the first step. So, head to your phones notification section and switch off everything that isn't mandatory. For example I left on things like email, text messages, and my mindfulness alert (mandatory). But I turned off things like Netflix, CNN, and all social media. These were either apps I didn't really need to check (Netflix) or apps that I check so much that I'll remind myself when it's convenient (CNN, IG, and Twitter). However, there were a few apps that I couldn't figure out whether to shut off or leave on. These I saved for later and asked myself..."Do I need this for work?" "Is this app somehow attached to my safety?" "Can I function without hearing from this app instantly?" If the answer was no to these questions I turned them off.
2. Create a tech schedule
Let's be honest, there are certain things that we simply must attend to. Maybe for work or school. But not all of these may be imminently important therefore can be placed on a schedule. One way you can create this schedule is to turn off the notification in the app but set a reminder in your phone. Now you can create a schedule that is meaningful and consistent rather than random and interrupting. So, rather than looking every 5 minutes or whenever you hear a phantom ping you check once in the morning and once in the evening, for example. A schedule will allow you to check when you need to and to interact with the real world as often as possible.
3. Focus on your values and the reason you're using tech in the first place
It's time to get honest with yourself and ask, "Why am I using this tech in the first place?" Some of us will answer that it's necessary for our livelihood but many more of us will admit that many of the apps we obsess over are just that, obsessions. Much of our fab tech can serve as a distraction from something a little too difficult or something we generally don't want to do. Since this is the case, let's assess how important each of your tech outlets are. Ask yourself a few questions. "What do these things actually do for me?" "Are they helping with me reach goals or are they just distracting me from them?" "Does this app really even align with my personally held values?"
4. Clean up your email
Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe! Looking at an email account filled to the brim with flat tummy tea adds and requests to join organization after organization can be quite overwhelming. Just a few weeks ago I had over 4K emails sitting in my cue waiting to be addressed. Psychologically, when we see numbers like that, we shut down and tend to avoid checking them all together. The last thing we need to do in an ever more connected world, is ignore our emails. Take the time to delete all of your unwanted communications, save the ones you need, and unsubscribe from the ones you will never click on. You'll thank me later.
5. Put your phone on "do not disturb"
This is one I have a hard time with myself. It's just what it sounds like...put that phone on do not disturb when you're doing something more pressing. You simply must find balance and increase focus.
6. Don't forget the positives
Tech is and can be an absolutely amazing tool for business, research, and generally everything. Use your tech to your benefit but avoid getting trapped in the "I must always be connected" trap. Positivity will help you build a realistic and useful relationship with your tech. After all one constant of life is change, tech will keep changing and becoming more complicated so if you don't build a healthy relationship now you may find it difficult to build one in the future.
7. Take a tech holiday
For all of it's benefits sometimes we just need to get away from our tech all together. Head to the beach, a park, the mountains, or camping and leave your phone in the car. I say leave the phone in the car rather than at home because, let's be honest, nobody has a sense of direction anymore and you may need to get back home sooner or later. But while you're there don't do anything for the gram just live in nature and embrace the present moment.