All of us deal with addiction at some point in our life. For the last few years, a few of us have joked about our addictions with technology thinking that there was no such thing. I have just witnessed this so-called myth, become a reality in my life.
My addiction skyrocketed out of control when I began building an online presence. My reasons for doing so were fairly innocent: I wanted to make it easier for people to connect with me so I could have some small impact on inspiring them to be more on an ongoing basis.
What started out as good intentions led me to something much more. I lost sight of why I initially began to build an online presence and got lost in distractions that had nothing to do with my vision. I have written this article because I don’t want the same to happen to you.
Each of our individual life missions is too important to have something so basic take it away from us. It’s no longer something to joke about and it has had a serious effect on me recently. All of what I am saying about technology might come as a shock for those who know me well, especially considering my day job is 100% focused on tech.
These words I am writing are not designed to make you quit technology altogether, it’ to help you not let it consume you. The addiction creeps out of nowhere and it’s only when you realise how bad your technology craving is and come to terms with it, that you can start to make a change.
It’s not healthy to be detached from the world and have your senses always reacting to beeping sounds and visual red notifications. The most critical thing in your life should be your passions and you’re overarching vision, not technology. When did this fundamental shift occur and how did we let this happen?
Technology has many benefits and it should enable us to get more done, but the point to this article is not to lose touch with reality and the fact that all achievements still occur through human interaction at some level.
Don’t allow your success to be dictated by outside forces and to be distracted away from your hopes and dreams. Don’t lose sight of the problems our world faces and how you can help to be part of the change; how you can give back and have a positive impact.
Take back your life, see what’s happened, observe, and consider a technology detox using the lessons I learnt below.
1. It will stop the anxiety and stress (get back to the moment)
The most important benefit I have gotten from my technology detox is the reduction in stress and anxiety levels. I found myself always needing to look at my phone, even if there was a two-second gap in daily commitments. This meant that I never had time to think or reflect on what I was doing.
I was just constantly reacting to the world and being told by technology what was urgent and what wasn’t. A lot of what I was being told was urgent, didn’t reflect my daily to-do list. I found that I couldn’t live in the moment because there would always be something I would read in my email or on social media that required me to continually think ahead.
A lot of the time I would be going to my email to check if something had arrived, and then I would see something else and open that, which might lead me to Facebook, which could lead me to Twitter, and you get the idea.
This meant that the things the real world required me to do wouldn’t get done or would keep being given a lesser priority. When did we allow something other than ourselves to decide what should be important to us?
We need to take back control of our lives, take responsibility, and not let technology dictate our life.
2. It will bring you closer to your family and friends
So when I look at the relationship with my loved one, that’s when I really started to get worried. I was so detached that I couldn’t see the reality. It was only when I decided to film a meal we were having, to test a new camera I brought, that I saw what was really going on.
The film was quite clear. We sat at the dinner table and stared at our phones while shovelling food into our mouths, and occasionally we would grunt or mumble something at each other. No wonder we all feel like we have lost touch with each other.
By making a commitment to putting my phone away during meal times and turning my phone off on weekends, I am starting to feel like I am getting closer to my loved ones again but I still have a long way to go.
In your own life, if you can learn to take breaks from your technology and share yourself with others, I promise you that your happiness levels will increase.
3. It will allow you to meet new people
I found during my technology addiction that I would go to conferences or events and spend a lot of the time looking at my phone. When I was having a conversation with someone, one of us would usually be distracted by a call or SMS.
This may seem insignificant, but interrupting a conversation when someone new is trying to connect with you for the first time, can significantly impact the outcome of that relationship. The other issue I had was that I wasn’t going up and talking to people, and once I spoke to those I knew, I found myself in a chair looking at my phone.
Now that I put my phone away during these events, I am free to roam around, use my sense of curiosity, and hear what others do and how we can work together. It’s only a small change but if you do something similar, you will find your ability to meet new people in any situation will increase.
4. It can give you more time
As I calculated the time that my phone, email and social media were taking I didn’t realise the magnitude of the final number. The reason this phenomenon occurs is that we often let technology distract us while doing something else, travelling somewhere or in-between tasks.
What this does is make us think sub-consciously that the act of being engaged with our technology is not using up our time, but it is. Actively each day I was spending hours, particularly on social media, using up the little free time I had.
“When I went back and reflected on my previous goals, I realised that the reason I didn’t have time to achieve them at the level I wanted was because of the technology drain on my time”
I am not joking when I say that I could look up something for work about technology trends, and before I know it, I could be watching some stupid video on YouTube with a person dancing (which is not my thing) – it’s worrying how quickly this behaviour now happens to us.
As a blogger, this issue is compounded further because to write these articles I need to use a laptop. This laptop needs to have internet access to be able to Google word meanings, get photos, look up quotes, or confirm specific information that is mentioned in the article. This may just be an excuse I am telling myself, but I haven’t yet found the solution to this problem.
In your own creative work and hobbies, it’s important to address this same issue. There is no magic solution but being conscious of the problem is a start.
5. Being continuously available lowers your social status
In some Asian countries, putting a phone on the table before a meeting shows that you are lower in status. You are demonstrating through this small act that you are constantly at the beck and call of others and not significant enough to be fully present in the room.
Think about leaders like Tony Robbins, Oprah and Richard Branson; would they let their life be directed by someone else and be answerable to everyone else? If you want to play life at a higher level, then you need to think about what other leaders are doing and adopt some of their standards.
Adopting the standard of keeping technology a distant second to the person who is directly in front of you will communicate that you’re powerful, influential, and give you back control. It will help you create new levels of rapport and bring you closer to everyone you engage with. Try it!
In Japan, using your phone on public transport is a sign of disrespect and it’s like spitting on the ground in front of someone – you just don’t do it. The new belief you need to put into action is that overusing technology takes away your freedom and that’s one human right you want to retain.
***A Recap Of Possible Solutions***
Below are some options you can try to do on your own technology detox. Don’t feel you need to follow them exactly, but they should provide a guide and some ideas you can try. Manipulate them as needed to fit your own life and work schedule.
– Turn the phone off on weekends and after business hours (that’s 7 pm for me)
– Put the phone in another room so you can hear if it rings but so you won’t look at it for everything else
– Delete apps like Facebook if needed and only view them on your computer
– Turn off all notifications on your phone except the phone ringing tone
– Spend time at the end of your day, or when most of your energy is used up, to do all social media and email at once
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