Often people speak of not having enough time to: workout, stay organized, eat healthy, wasting less food, etc. Our lives are filled with options and these options can be helpful and harmful at the same time. With the introduction of the smartphone and other platforms, it’s all too easy to get sucked into digital distractions and taken away from your intentions and life purpose.
These digital distractions go beyond watching TV and now include social media, binge watching on platforms like Netflix that don’t have commercials, checking phone messages or emails throughout the day. What do you spend your time on?
Digital Distractions Add Up
Five minutes here and there adds up and before you know it an hour has passed. Or you’ve used the better part of an hour checking your phone every 5-10 minutes.
Just like having a budget, if we don’t track our spending on coffee, lunches, small purchases, it adds up at the end of the month to be hundreds of dollars. The same goes for time and how much we spend it on technology. We may feel that we are only checking our email quickly or checking something online but in reality, if we add up how much time we spend in a day, it can easily explain why we haven’t been able to read that book that we’ve been trying to read for the last month. (That’s me!)
As I continue to set boundaries with my belongings, time, and spaces I am once again brought back to how and when I spend time with technology. I recently decided not to check or answer emails on the weekend, and guess what?!? The world did not come to an end and I didn’t miss out on anything important. I make sure I tell new clients that I check and answer emails during business hours, Monday to Friday, so they know and it works out perfectly.
My next step is to be more mindful and set boundaries around when and why I pick up my phone, especially when going online.
Checking in with yourself in the moment not only helps you be more present it also helps you stay connected to what you are focusing on at that moment and in your life overall.
Next time you go to grab your phone, or open up your web browser or pick up the TV convertor, try asking yourself:
Why am I using this piece of technology?
What purpose does it serve me in this moment?
Does it align with my goals right now?
What do I really need?
It’s easy to do things out of habit without connecting to myself and seeing what I really need. Instead, technology has become a distraction that takes people away to connect to the present moment and seeing what they really need. It could be as simple as a hug, a connected conversation with someone, some rest or even a snack. If our basic needs are not met then we can’t focus on what’s in front of us and grabbing our phones makes it easy to disconnect and miss what we really need.
How to Shift Your Digital Distractions
Set your intentions and boundaries with how you want to engage with technology.
Minimize your use and have a plan with what you want to replace that time with.
Some ideas of what you can let go of:
Delete apps off your phone
Minimize newsletters and groups you belong to
Track your time and then see where you are wasting time and what you can let go of
Let go of social media platforms that don’t align with your values or that don’t provide you anything informative
Only have tabs open on your computer that you are currently using
Now that you’ve decided what you will use technology for and created boundaries around it, it’s time to organize your daily and weekly use. This will help you zone your time and instill the boundaries you set out in the first step.
Time track your use and progress
Group offline tasks and do them in blocked times each day
Stop in the moment, breath and check in with yourself to see what you really need
Making sure that you change your habits is key. Creating a habit chart is one way that allows you to check off when you have completed a new behaviour. This will vary depending on how you want to map it out. You could put the amount of time you want to spend on different types of technology and then check it off at the end of the day if you did it.
This will help you keep track of your progress, acknowledge the changes you are making and ensure you are accountable for the intentions and boundaries you have set out in the beginning of the process.
It’s also important throughout the process to do the inner work and see why are you distracted and what might you be avoiding. Balancing both the inner and outer work needed to change is key in creating a life that is more in alignment with you intentions and values.
So next time ask yourself why you are going online when picking up your phone or opening up your browser. These small steps will lead to being more connected to yourself and those around you. In the end, technology is a tool yet it’s important not to get lost in it and stay connected to what matters to you the most.