Technology is a great tool for keeping you connected, however it can become a huge distraction and prevent you from being truly present in life. Imagine telling a detailed story to a friend and right in the middle of your story they take out the newspaper and start reading it. Checking your cell phone during an in person conversation or meeting has the same effect!
In the beginning of March I was out to dinner with my husband. The restaurant was packed! Midway through our meal he told me to look around the restaurant. Out of about 25 tables (that I could see), all but 2 had at least one person using a cell phone! Now the embarrassing part- I was one of them.
You know the sound of a text message, you feel the “buzz” when it is on vibrate, you can’t help but look! In an article by Heidi Wachter, she states that “research has shown that every time we get a new message or alert, our brains get a hit of dopamine- the novelty is addictive”. But it’s not just cell phones. Today we have computers, televisions (even in our cars), Nooks, Kindles, GPS systems, iPads, iPhones, iPods, iEverything!
The average American spends more than 5 hours a day watching television, 3.5 hours on a computer (up to 6 hours if your job involves being at a desk), and approximately 1 hour a day on a mobile phone. Considering we are only awake between 12-18 hours per day, that’s 65-80% (9.5-12 hours) of our day is spent on “screen time”!
So how much time per day are you on a device? Take this challenge- you will need to commit to a weekday and a weekend day. DON’T CHANGE ANYTHING! Attempt to track your usage. Here were my results: Weekday = 11.25 hours Weekend = 8.75 hours
Now that you have the facts- you can make changes! This won’t be easy, but make the commitment. “Detoxing” needs to become part of your routine just like brushing your teeth!
1. Spend time outdoors.
2. Write (yes, with a pen and paper) your daily tasks, grocery list, and reminders.
3. Read a book (not on a nook, kindle, or ipad), yes, an old fashioned one with pages you can touch and flip.
4. Workout without music. Listen and actually pay attention to the sounds around you instead of using your ipod and headphones.
5. Make your bedroom or other spaces in your home tech free zones.
6. Send a handwritten thank you instead of a text or email.
7. When possible, walk to someone’s office to tell them something instead of writing an email.
8. Practice “tech free” meals. Don’t even bring your phone into a restaurant. Unless you are an “on call” brain surgeon, chances are, it can wait.
9. Write down driving directions on a post-it when possible. You don’t need someone telling you every 5 minutes to “continue on 71” when you know you will be on it for 3 hours!
10. Try not to keep the television on for background noise while doing other household chores.
My advice (and my goal) is to pick 2 or 3 of the tips listed above to work on immediately. Be strategic and start with easy changes. Then, as you succeed, add in another, more challenging goal. Not only will this detox help reduce unnecessary stress, improve concentration, and help you sleep better; it will help you “live in the now” and create a healthy work/life balance.
Colleen Proctor has a degree in Exercise Science from The Ohio State University. She has her Performance Enhancement Specialist Certification from The National Academy of Sports Medicine, Pilates Reformer certification from Balanced Body, and specialized training and certifications in group fitness.