Ever found yourself simultaneously checking your email, sending a text message, and watching your favorite TV show? Chances are, you might not even hear your child calling from another room and I’m sure you’ve experience their “selective hearing” when you ask them to clean up their rooms. Between our the computer, iPods, smartphones and TVs, we can spend far too many hours per day staring at screens, instead of looking out into the world.
Don’t get us wrong, technology can be a great way to connect. Using it in the right proportions can help us to be more efficient, and forge meaningful and productive relationships in every day life. It’s become essential to the workplace and has made long-distance communication much simpler, but in order to adapt our lifestyles to a tech infused world we need to explore new ways to connect with one another both on and beyond the keyboard. It’s crucial to maintain personal interactions and know how to “unplug” so that we don’t reach a technology overload.
According to Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times, “Experts believe excessive use of the Internet, cellphones and other technologies can cause us to become more impatient, impulsive, forgetful and even more narcissistic.” Focusing is difficult, and important priorities can slip through the cracks because we are distracted and our minds are frenetic. We also become prone to anxiety and the inability to escape from the office and properly relax and disconnect.
So how can we unplug?
- It’s helpful to block out periods of time that are completely tech-free. You’ll find that you are more engaged with family and friends and have time to unwind and do something you enjoy like reading, exercising or meditating.
- Give yourself a time limit for web surfing and social media like Facebook and Twitter. While you can certainly improve relationships online, it’s important to limit the amount of time you spend on social networks. They can use up a significant amount of time without you realizing how long it has been. Call a friend for lunch instead; It’s a rewarding and personable way to connect.
- Use technology to block technology. Believe it or not, you can actually create barriers on your computer to block your email or Internet so that you aren’t distracted.
- Avoid checking your email or talking on the phone when you are spending time with your children. Not only will it allow you do give them your undivided attention, but it you are setting a good example for them. Today’s children are even more prone to become addicted to technology because they have been exposed to it from birth.
- If disconnecting totally isn’t feasible, stick to one digital task at a time. Ultimately, you’ll get more done in less time, with better results.
- Take a vacation…free from technology. Sometimes, the only way to realize the benefits of cutting back from technology is to make yourself go cold-turkey for an extended period of time. The next opportunity you have for a weekend vacation, leave behind your digital devices and try to truly relax and recharge.
Unplugging, even for an hour a day, has great benefits. When you control your time, you have the opportunity to focus on what really matters instead of what is beeping at you. You’ll be able to have higher quality conversations and engage with others on a deeper level. Train yourself to step out of the quicksand before it swallows you up. How do you unplug? What is your favorite non-digital activity?