If you start your day by turning off your alarm clock, go to work by car, take public transport and swipe a transit pass, schedule a meeting, or reheat your lunch, you’re using technology in every single case.
Tech is as common as ordering a meal via an on-demand courier service and often essential in things like medical equipment that vastly improve or even save someone's life.
All technologies are developed with a purpose. However, some can become a substitute for moments in life that don't need tech, creating an imbalance between the real physical or spiritual world and binary code. Simply put, when you live in an urban area and your work revolves around tech, looking at screens and pushing buttons can become overwhelming.
Let’s Put Tech Into Perspective
There are 3.5 billion smartphone users, about the same number of home computer users, and over 4.5 billion active Internet users around the world. This means that most of the world’s young and adult population go online and are being bombarded with notifications from a dozen different apps, images on social media, and flashy ads in newsletters every day.
This onslaught of information noise can cause people to lose focus and use technology mindlessly: unlocking the phone screen to see what time it is and going on social media for a scroll instead, or switching to the wrong tab and going down the Internet rabbit hole.
ADVERTISINGUsing any app that is connected to the Internet via mobile or desktop can become excessive or obsessive to the point of hurting your physical and emotional wellbeing and relationships.
On the other hand, the world has achieved a lot thanks to technological progress. Here are just a few examples of how tech benefits our lives:
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Key Steps For Tech-Life Balance You Can Start Doing Right Now
Finding that balance might seem impossibly difficult, and it can be. It is challenging to simply let go of harmful tech habits, but you can substitute them with new ones. Here are a few steps you can take to start the process of creating healthy tech-life habits.
1) Stop Double-Screening
Have you ever caught yourself using a computer and a smartphone at the same time? It has long been established that multitasking is bad for attention and productivity, and it stresses people out more than it seemingly helps save time. And double-screening is essentially multitasking.
For example, if you have a video meeting running on a computer and you’re trying to do extra work on a tablet because it’s not your turn to speak, you might think you are saving time, while in all actuality your head isn’t fully in the game with either of those matters. On the one hand, you won’t have a productive conversation because you aren’t actively listening. On the other, that extra work won’t be done well because you’re half-listening to a conversation so you don’t miss a valuable piece of information.
2) Create Tech-Free Rules
An example of such a rule, and something your GP (general practitioner) or family doctor has probably mentioned, is to avoid using gadgets or watching TV in bed or while eating. The recommendation to avoid artificial light before bed comes from studies of melatonin — an essential hormone associated with circadian rhythms and sleep in particular that is produced in response to darkness.
At work, “tech-free rules” can be personal or company-wide. Like with the previous meeting example, your personal rule can be to focus on the video conferencing tool and use other software only if you need to look up information related to the meeting. A company-wide rule can be to turn off all phones once the meeting has started.
3) Try Meditative Techniques
It can be hard to stop checking your phone during a meeting or refuse a new episode of your favorite series before bed. This is where meditation can help by clearing your mind from information overload or a stream of thoughts.
There are different types of meditation, such as guided meditation (look for apps that help submerge you into a meditative state), mindfulness practice, or yoga. All these techniques have breathing and posture elements that help you focus on the present, relax your mind, and find your way out of a stressful situation.
4) Automate What You Can
Optimizing the use of tech is not only about minimizing its use or meditating. It’s also about getting the most benefits out of the tech available to you and using it with a purpose.
Look into apps and features that can do something without your involvement. A good example of automation is using a CRM system instead of spreadsheets and ordinary databases — you can retrieve reports and diagrams without having to analyze data for hours or make someone else do it for you.
Another good example is email software. Email is an essential part of a work day, but different messages have different levels of priority. You can streamline the use of email by automating the app you use to send low-priority emails into a dedicated folder so they don’t hibernate in your inbox while you are doing work. You can also set a spam filter that will guard you against insignificant correspondence.
5) Be Picky with Notifications
Notifications are convenient when you’re expecting something important or critical, but too many low-value notifications make you want to reach out to a mobile phone or an app on your laptop for no reason, doubling your screen time. Turn off ones from apps you don’t use, especially if you receive them as push notifications on desktop and mobile or via email.
6) Take A Vacation
If you bear a lot of responsibility, and you most likely do, it could be hard to disconnect through your personal volition or meditation — especially if you have a smartphone to keep in touch with managers at any time, keep an eye on how things are running, and make sure your ship doesn’t sink.
Perhaps you are a smart entrepreneur who has spent time building a smart team and developing solid processes. The team can handle it while you spend time truly relaxing and recharging, preferably in an environment that is entirely different from what you are used to on the daily.
Or you are an IT specialist who spends hours behind the computer. Just imagine how much peace and quiet you can get somewhere high up a mountain or surfing waves. You can’t get that while working with beeping machines and blinking indicators.
Getting a rest in a beautiful place (preferably without cell coverage) can do wonders for your wellbeing and recharge you for better productivity once you come back.
Tech is amazing. It helps you solve daily tasks, makes it possible to work or study from any part of the world, and sometimes even helps save a load of time. However, using tech can become stressful and overwhelming.
If you feel like tech is consuming your life and you need to reinstall balance, you can start by avoiding the use of multiple gadget screens at once with no purpose and look into apps that provide guided meditations. You can also get to know your apps better and set them up to benefit you — limit the use of notifications, automate where possible, and don’t use technology just to fill up the time.
Our time in life is precious, and considering some misuses of technology in our world today, we don't need to have our lives overtaken and overrun by tech. Balance is everything, and while it’s not easy to achieve in our unbalanced world, it’s crucial for a happy and healthy life.
Read more from Forbes
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