Our technology has become an integral part of us and our lives. Yet, somewhere along the line, we tend to forget why it’s there and who is in charge. Technology has many benefits and rewards—in fact, the positive list literally goes on and on. However, scientific studies are showing that there are both positive and negative impacts from this newer frontier. Research has shown that constant phone use negatively affects our memory and creativity, and yet on average people spend over 3 hours on their phone (and check them 58 times each day). More and more, studies are showing the benefits of taking back control and limiting the tech in our lives.
Be With Those You’re With. Many times we put our devices ahead of ourselves, and allow them to dominate our lives — from an attention and interruption standpoint. At home, we jump whenever our smartphone buzzes or dings. At work, our devices interrupt us and keep us from doing our best work. Strangely, this has become the new normal. At the very least, when you are with someone, make them priority number one. Don’t be that person that gives more attention to their screen than the people they are with. Your technology should always come second to the person in front of you, no matter where you are. It should also be second to your own personal needs and peace.
Take a Picture, Not a Dozen. Photos are meant to help you remember a moment. Make sure you take a few, but not like a photojournalist on the scene of their biggest career story. You don’t need to take 100 photos, a video of the entire concert, or a snapshot of every course you eat. Even if you’re planning on posting, you’ll never post that much content. Take a picture or two, but make sure you fully enjoy the experience you are having as a participant, not an outside observer.
Turn It Off. The sole focus of every app on our phone is to take as much of our attention and time as possible. They attempt to put us in a social validation feedback loop that will feed our brains dopamine and keep us coming back for more—literally exploiting vulnerabilities in human psychology to keep us checking our phones. Because of this, many people seem to forget that they can silence or even turn off their devices. Turn off the noise, the interruptions, and whatever other sounds your technology wants to make. Set up “do not disturb”, block notifications after a certain time, or just power the devices off when you are out of your work time. Your personal productivity and relationships will thank you.
In a world where we don’t go anywhere without our phones, do you rule your mobile devices or do they rule you? If you respond to every ding, buzz, and chime your phone makes as soon as it makes it, you are being ruled by your technology, even if you’re just glancing at your phone. If instead you set a time for when you will respond to those notifications, you are being proactive and deciding when to welcome those interruptions. Another option is to ration out the time you spend on your tech. Try spending only 5 minutes of every hour checking messages and emails, then maybe move to every other hour. The key is to find a routine that works for you where you aren’t subject to the constant interruptions your tech can provide.