The most important thing to remember about technology is that it is there to improve your life and not take away from it. Your life is at the centre. Technology has transformed all of our lives in so many positive ways but with that has come risks and problems.
We can connect with friends and family members all over the world instantly. We can do business from almost anywhere and we can work remotely and keep things moving when we are on holidays or on far flung business trips. We can be there instantly in times of problems and we can share the excitement of what we are doing with our loved ones wherever they or we are.
On the other side, loneliness and lifestyle disease are on the up. People are finding it increasingly difficult to focus. There are symptoms of disconnection and distraction everywhere. Many of us are ‘busy being busy’ and the apps all play on our addictive tendencies and lower nature. People who are on social media are more stressed than people who aren’t.
The first step in your digital wellbeing is understanding your habits – how much time are you spending in front of a screen and what are you getting from it.
So often there is a diminishing marginal return… particularly when using it for recreation. Fifty percent of our actions on a daily basis are habitual. Screen habits can very quickly become the norm and when we are on auto-pilot, time can pass without any real benefit or result. Once you know how much time screens are taking up, ask yourself is that the best way of spending or investing my time or is it more of a waste or just a less productive / enjoyable use of time? Smart phones have become so much the norm that it is almost hard to live without one if you want to be plugged into others and life. One study estimates that 2.71 billion people will have smart phones this year. Screen time is made up of time spent on computers at work or at home, watching TV, playing video games as well as time on your phone or ipad surfing or on various apps. Although watching television can be relaxing, it rarely results in the highest quality spent free time. Time spent connecting with others or engaging more actively in something like reading, doing sports is generally much more rewarding. Assess for yourself. Think of your daily or weekly highlights and happy moments. The more habitual screen time won’t usually feature in the top spots.
Here are 6 ways to protect your and your families digital wellbeing:
- Put clear boundaries in place. No screens at the dinner table.
- No or limited screens in (some or even all if you can work with that) meetings.
- No screens an hour before bed and in the bedroom. I noticed by keeping the phone out of my bedroom, my sleep improved and I wake early naturally. I have worked with many others who had the same experience. If you use your phone as an alarm, buy an alarm clock.
- Take time away from screens weekly – A Saturday or Sunday morning.
- Take regular screen breaks at work. Move for a few minutes every hour.
- Delete apps that you don’t need but are tempted to waste time on from your phone.
While it may feel strange or uncomfortable to not have your phone with you all the time or be glued to screens, you will be amazed how more present, and lively you feel. Screens and phones keep us in our heads. The real joys and successes of life involve living in your heart and being engaged in the moment.