May 25: Take A Break From Technology

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

If you work, or even if you don’t, chances are you’re “connected” to your computer or smartphone pretty much every day.  This is even more true if you have a high-powered job or freelance, in which case it seems career suicide to be unreachable even for a few hours.  However, I’m here to tell you that  if you truly want a simpler life, you need to take a break from technology (including but not limited to computers, smartphones, emails, video games, blogging, iPad, etc..) for just one day per week.  That’s because all those tech toys increase the pace of life.  Everything is instant and demands a response.  Every virtual Facebook friend somehow commands more attention than those present in the same room. 

I know that this is a hard one for many people.  On most weekends, I feel like I have to drag my husband away from the computer, which he turns on first-thing in the morning.  Recently, my email was down most of the day; I swear that I experienced anxiety and withdrawal symptoms!  Even though my husband and I are generally behind-the-times in terms of technology, we’re still pretty “addicted”.

Yet every time we manage to step away and get involved in a non-tech related activity whether it’s hiking, dining out without digital distractions or enjoying a concert, we tell ourselves that we should do this more often.

For those who may need more concrete tips, here you go:

1) Don’t turn on your computer (or smartphone or iPad) first thing in the morning. Take the time to drink your coffee or tea, read the paper the old-fashioned way if you still get the newspaper.  Try to enjoy at least 15 minutes of non-tech time before rushing into the fray.

2)  Forget about Facebook, or at least don’t check it on the weekends:   Someday you’ll be issued a Facebook account at birth, but until then, find another way to stay connected even if that’s the main communication method for all your friends and family.  Don’t worry too much if you’re a bit out of the loop. You’ll still get all the important news.

3) Don’t Tweet daily: No one really needs to know what you’re doing or thinking all the time.

4) Check Email once a day or not at all on the weekends:  This is a tough one for me, but I try not to login more than once a day on Sundays.  Sometimes I even make it through the whole day!

5) Don’t stare at your smartphone all the time: I noticed that many people start twiddling with their iPads or smartphones as soon as there is a lull in conversation or there’s any downtime.

6) Talk to people instead: Eons ago, people made small talk while waiting in line, in waiting rooms or at cafes. Now everyone just texts or tweets and avoid eye contact. I’m not saying that you should always make conversation, but I think a lot of people are missing out.  Their soulmate or a new friend could be sitting right next to them and they were too busy texting.

7) Reduce usage on a designated “time out” day. Whatever your tech-addiction, reduce usage. Let’s say you normally check emails 10x a day, cut that to 3x a day (after breakfast, lunch and dinner).  Even if checking in 3x a day is excessive to someone else, what makes a difference is if it’s noticeably less than usual for you. 

So, challenge yourself to limit your exposure every weekend, or at least on Sundays.  Let time slow down.  You’ll love it, I swear.

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