How to Own Your Technology So It Doesn’t Own You

Being as connected as we are today has come with a higher price tag than I think most of us realized. I came across this article over at LifeHacker.com talking about how our over-connection is manifesting itself in our everyday lives:

Larry Rosen, professor of psychology at California State University and author of a book on technology, iDisorder, says lots of people are patting their pockets all day, feeling phantom vibrations that may be a sign of tech anxiety: Our body is always in waiting to anticipate any kind of technological interaction, which usually comes from a smart phone. With that anticipatory anxiety, if we get any neurological stimulation, our pants rubbing against our leg for example, you might interpret that through the veil of anxiety, as “Oh, my phone is vibrating.”

So how can we own our technology so it doesn’t own us? Here are a few tips:

Schedule social media appointments
Instead of always having Email, Facebook, Twitter etc. on try scheduling when you will check them. Right now I check my feeds once in the morning at the start of the day and once at the end of my work day in the afternoon. I usually schedule these appointments in 30 minute intervals. This way I’m able to stay connected and get stuff done without so many distractions.

Walk the halls
Take a 10 – 15 minute break every 1 – 2 hours to step away from your computer, stretch, and walk the halls. Instead of calling or emailing someone try walking over to the person and talking to them face to face. This exercise will help your mind refocus while building more friendships with the people around.

Turn your phone off at night
Of all the tips here this one is the hardest for me. It’s easy to lose myself on my phone at home, checking endless texts, tweets, and feeds. But what I’m finding is when I turn my phone off two things happen:

  1. The world seems to get along just fine without me.
  2. I enjoy uninterrupted time with my family (and they seem to enjoy me more).

Unplug for 24 hours every week
I talk about this a little more here, but the big idea is to take one entire day off from social media. No phone, no computer, no iPad, etc. The first few times you do this you may feel as lost as the castaways on “Gilligan’s Island” learning to live without a single luxury. You may even be so turned around you find yourself playing Angry Birds with actual birds (which probably won’t end well). What you’ll find after the initial discomfort is a more relaxing and engaging day off where you’ve rested and recharged in a way you may not have been able to in a long time.

Use your vacation to disconnect and reconnect
On vacations disconnect for multiple days from your technology. Plan outdoor activities to enjoy nature. Bring some of your favorite board games to play. Go out to a restaurant and maybe a movie together. You and your family will have a greater opportunity to reconnect with each other like never before.

As you begin to make this shift in how often you’re connected it may feel like you’re detoxing. That’s because you are. Over time, as you begin to schedule your social media time, turn your tech off at night, unplug one day a week, and disconnect for multiple days a few times a year to reconnect with family and friends you’ll begin to own your technology instead of it owning you.

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