This is the second part of my series on how to control technology so it doesn’t control you. If you missed the first five tips you can check them out here. Sorry, I tried to fit them all into one post, but figured no one had time to read a novel in one sitting.
5 More Tips To Reclaim Your Life from Technology:
SIX:: Be realistic about the time spent on technology daily.
We all underestimate the time we spend on technology and social media. I’m sure most of you would say something like I spend an hour or two a day – max. I would have said the same. But then I started charting it and realized I spend on average of 3+ hours a day on my phone in some capacity. (Obviously, as a blogger a lot of what I do is on my phone, so I think this would be a lot for someone who wasn’t working a side hustle that depended on social media use.)
How do you track this? I’ve got two suggestions which I’ve found helpful. The first is super simple – at the end of each day, go into settings > battery. If you scroll down a little you will see battery usage. By clicking the clock icon on the right-hand side, and selecting either the ‘last 24 hours’ or ‘last 7 days’ option you can seen the number of hours spent on each app – including background time versus real time. For instance, I’ve been working a lot these days on my Instagram page while also running two other accounts on a volunteer basis, so I’ve spent 8 hours in the last week on Instagram. I’ll be honest – checking this, especially in the beginning is a really eye-opening experience. And it has made me more intentional in the times I pick up my phone.
The second way to track this… yup, you guessed it – there’s an app for that. The app is called Moment and it tracks your usage, tells you the number of hours each day you spend on your phone, the number of times you picked it up during the day, the number of times you checked your lock screen, etc… If you get the pro version, which I don’t have, you can also use the app to limit time spent on certain apps, and to get reminders when usage is getting to dangerous levels.
SEVEN:: Be present.
Studies have shown that even having your phone face down on a table when you are with family or friends makes you less present and more distracted from the people and conversations. The old adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’ holds true here. If the phone isn’t visible it is a lot easier to be truly present in the moment. There are so many articles now about the ‘alone together’ factor of many teens who feel alone and isolated while together with friends because everyone is on their phones and there is little person-to-person interaction.
Set guidelines for you, and perhaps your family or friends, when it comes to phones while together. A family friend has a basket by the front door and requires people to drop their phones in when they arrive.
EIGHT:: Schedule time for social media and stick to it.
We schedule other things into our days – times to eat, workouts at the gym, work meetings, phone calls – and then for some reason we let technology control our every second. We keep multiple browsers open so it is easy to switch between our emails and our Facebook feed. We feel the urgent need to respond to even a mundane text message. Work social media into your schedule with a strict start time and end time. Set an alarm, if that will help you log-off when it’s time.
Plus, a schedule will help you stay on task. If you need to post certain things to your social channels, interact with people, or even just check in on your brother’s cute posts about his dog, it’s easy to get lost in the abyss of never-ending images and information. Knowing you only have an hour to do the things you want and need to do while connected, will keep you focused and will help avoid the endless scrolling that can be a total time-suck and brain-suck.
NINE:: Identify problems and create a plan of attack.
We all have problem areas when it comes to technology. Maybe we feel the urgent need to respond to every email as soon as it comes in and are known for our immediate responses. Maybe we easily get caught in the newsfeed of Facebook. Maybe we can’t get enough of adorable cat videos on YouTube. Whatever your Achilles heel is, the first step is to identify it. Step two is to plan your attack.
For instance, I am totally one of those people who can easily get lost in the Facebook ether. If I pull it up in the morning, I’m bound to leave the window open all day and continuously check it again and again and again throughout the day. This happened a lot around the elections. On days when I was constantly pulled back to Facebook I found myself, annoyed, frustrated and lethargic by the end of the day after having accomplished very little. Now, I don’t let myself open Facebook until the afternoon. While it’s open I do what I have to do, scroll a little through my feed, and then close the window so I’m not tempted to go back again and I can turn my attention to other things on my to-do list.
TEN:: Avoid when feeling lonely or sad.
Recently, I was part of a three-person seminar on teens and technology. One of the speakers was an FBI agent who works on crimes against children with a focus on cyber crimes. (It was like talking to a real life Criminal Minds gal.) One of the things she pointed out to the students and later to the parents is that predators take advantage of people online when they are most vulnerable – so when they are feeling sad or when they are feeling lonely.
That had me thinking, that I think we too, take advantage of technology and social media when we feel this way. Interacting with people online, seeing likes and comments on our content, it makes us feel a part of something – especially on a day when we aren’t feeling to darn special. It’s easy to opt for this when we’re alone and sad, and while it will give you a temporary hit of dopamine and make you feel good or better in the moment, it’s not solving the problem, and it’s certainly not helping you connect with those currently in your life in a meaningful direct way. I would imagine apps like Tinder and Whisper are filled with users who are feeling lonely and looking for a little bit of affirmation and human contact.
Those are tips 6 through 10 to reclaim your life from technology. What do you think? Would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.