Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A More Mindful Approach To Technology

I feel pretty embarrassed to say that I have a mild to moderate addiction to technology... and that's not even an attempt to be melodramatic, it is just the simple truth. If there were any other habit I found myself doing a hundred times a day I would be rightly concerned... and yet social media abuse has almost become the norm; somehow walking round with my face buried in my phone is acceptable behaviour.

If you have a healthy relationship with your devices, 1) congrats, tell me all your advice and 2) this post will be of zero relevance to you. I compiled this with my fellow addicts firmly in mind!

These are the ways I found that make life easier for myself and in some of the examples I list below, you'll see I'm fighting fire with fire. Technology is, at the end of the day, a tool and hopefully this post is proof that it can do both good and as well as the harm...

On the computer...

Find yourself opening a tab that directs to a home page or site that makes you forget why you opened the tab in the first place? Make every tab open onto a blank page. I'm even considering getting rid of my favourites bar; I know they're my favourites, so it's unlikely I will forget them!

Clean up your desktop. Remove any shortcuts that are totally unnecessary - while you're at it, make sure your folders are organised and up to date!

Choose a motivational background. For added effect, have a few that your computer can automatically alternate between, to ensure your brain doesn't switch off from the message.

On your phone...

Don't have anything fun on your home screen - our brains are both very visual and very easy to influence, so sticking Facebook on your home screen makes it all the easier to head to the app and get lost browsing. Don't even give your brain the opportunity.

Switch off your notifications. The same principle as the above, this will make checking your phone a deliberate act, rather than leaving you a slave to the ding.

Delete apps you do not need. I don't have Facebook or Pinterest on my phone because I never use them productively.

Download Checky. Made by, this little app just tells you at 12pm how many times you unlocked your phone the day before. I clock in at 20 on a good day and 50 on a very very bad one... if you guys use it, please let me know what your score is!

Try Self Control apps. I have one on my phone and my computer too; these are apps that allow you to select sites or other applications you want to be blocked from (or the only ones you are allowed to use) for a set period of time. Useful for breaking the habit of picking my phone up every two seconds!

Get an old school phone. What I would do if Instagram had a desktop uploader!

"Put down that bloody phone so you can gaze into my beautiful eyes"

On any device...

Try a blue light filter. For Mac users, F.lux will slowly fade in each evening and flood your screen yellow, to mimic a sunset while serving as a pretty hefty reminder that you should probably just turn your computer off and get in bed. There are also apps on your smartphone that can be switched on and off, helping you sleep better.

Clean your device. It may shock you to see how grubby things have become through heavy use!

Have digital switch off days. Hard to do but so worthwhile! The internet will cope perfectly fine in your absence. I make a particular point to do this for big days - leaving my phone off at Christmas was the best idea I had all of last year!

And most important of all:

Accept that this is just one side of the coin...

As this beautiful podcast episode highlights, mindfulness is only the start of the journey. Humans are equipped with both a head and a heart and I'm aware that to really make a difference, I need to recognise that a mindful approach will not get me all the way. Am I using technology and social media as a means to escape? Is it a replacement for connections in the real world that need some nourishment? These are the question I am trying to get to the bottom of at the moment.

I hope this post gets you thinking - and I would so love to hear how you feel about our relationship with social media and technology! Do you have any advice on the subject?


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