I have previously written about technology and the mixed bag it brings us….if you’re like me it will be a bit of a love and hate relationship…mostly love but sometimes it’s just all too much tech to handle.
As a single mum, who runs a business and also runs a charity in her ‘spare’ time, yes the word spare is utilised very loosely indeed as time is at a premium in my life. I feel I have the ability to easily lose myself, I feel like I become a vessel with a multitude of purposes and I’m no longer me, the person. This is a classic parenting syndrome, it’s just magnified when you play the role of the bread winner, cook, housemaid, mechanic, house and bike mender and fixer, comforter, the one who holds it all together for the family and the list goes on.
So, for all the juggling stated, you also need to create something that feeds your soul, something that strips off all the layers of different roles you carry with you on a day to day, something to bring you back to you and back to real tactile life. This is important for everyone to do not just single parents, or parents in general. If you are a parent, chances are, if you do this right, your behaviour will be modelled by your children and this means you might well be able to have more of their attention than the split-second raising of the eyeballs from their screens to acknowledge your presence (sound familiar? Yep, me too)
I often observe my girls and see them there in body but totally absent in mind and spirit, so I have rules about technology…no browsing after 7pm as it’s family time and also because it messes with your melatonin, depriving you of a good night’s sleep and we all know how important that is don’t we?
Think of a ‘Techy Detox’ as a comforting, rejuvenating, replenishing experience; one that will do more good for you than you expect; mind, body and soul. I think of it as getting back to a nice simple, comfortable place, a bit like when you get home from work, you pop your bag on the floor/table, you run up to your room, remove the formal wear and lovingly pull on your favourite tracksuit bottoms and tee-shirt, jumper or onesie (dependent on season and preference). Suddenly you feel free, comfy, more you, I am hoping I’m not the only one that does this…?
We have become ‘Tech limpets’ we just cannot let go, it seems like the biggest ask to reduce time spent in front of a screen…any screen. Have you ever forgotten your mobile phone? I remember when that happened to me; I felt like the rug had been pulled from under my feet, I felt lost and unsure without it…I thought it would be a disaster as no one would be able to get a hold of me and I wouldn’t be able to pick up my business emails and it was a weekday…total disaster!!
Imagine this; I’m sure you can as we see this type of behaviour very often. There’s me, just got off the tube at Waterloo, I reach into my jacket pocket for my phone to check the time (I don’t wear a watch), it’s not there. I try the other pocket…NO! I am now crouching in the middle of Waterloo station frantically searching my very full handbag (a de-clutter is long overdue). It was nowhere, I went through the same ritual again: first pocket, second pocket, full handbag…this time everything came out one at a time, just in case I missed it…nope, it was definitely not there. Then I had to do the whole thinking back all the steps I had taken from leaving the house and the route to the tube station…aha! yes, I put the phone down to cuddle kitty and there it was, I could see it in my mind’s eye on the blooming sofa, well at least it was safe. I would be out the whole day; this could not be good…or could it?
Do you know what?
It turned out to be a great day! My girls and I spent the day mooching around Southbank, one of our favourite haunts and as there was no phone distracting me, I was totally present. I requested the same of the girls and they kindly obliged by popping their phones on silent and being equally present. We had a fantastic day, so much so that each of us agreed to do it every Sunday, the girls do it for a few hours; I can accept that, for the ‘youf‘ of today I think it’s a pretty good effort, I tend to do it for the whole day.
Managing and balancing our time with and away from technology can help to create a clearer more balance mind. It can actually feel less stressful, less busy and more relaxed. You no longer feel overwhelmed by the list of ‘to do’s’ they seem more doable, easier, a doddle.
So how do you do this in a world where absolutely everything happens online? Well you take small steps as you would with anything. I believe small steps can lead to huge achievements, it’s a weaning process and over time you will become totally apt at a ‘techy detox day’ it could lead to a better state of mind, a more present and balanced you.
- Limit the time you spend in front of a screen (yes this includes the ‘telly’), this is crucial if you, like me, do a great deal of screen work for a living. It may sound like a completely absurd or totally impossible suggestion when we live breath sleep technology; believe me, it is very possible.
- Decide how much time you will spend checking your personal emails, no more than a maximum of 30 minutes, this will ensure you are productive and focused, put the timer on.
- Then decide how much time you will spend browsing the various social media channels, use the same maximum time limit as above, timer on.
- Finally decide what you really want to watch on telly and only watch that. If there’s nothing much on, grab a book, have a mini pamper session, yoga session, creative session, whatever takes your fancy.
- If you find the top three difficult to do, then why not join a couple of evening classes, they are guaranteed to keep you occupied, you’ll be socialising and depending what you choose, you may well be away from technology for that period of time. I would recommend something like yoga, philosophy, meditation or a course on one evening (cooking, flower arranging, massage, poetry, the possibilities are endless) and Zumba, gym, kayaking, swimming, golf, tennis, basketball…something a bit more to active.
- Another great thing to do, one that many of us don’t do enough of is to get on the phone to a friend, better still go and visit them for an hour or so and have a real non-virtual chat. We are social beings and there is a huge health benefit for us when we socialise with our family and friends. Your friends will also benefit.
- Don’t rely on technology to keep you occupied, if you are looking for some stimulation, go out for a walk a, explore areas you haven’t explored before, read a real book; benefit from the tactile aspect of turning the pages, the feel, the smell of paper, just heavenly. If that doesn’t float your boat, do something else to bring out your creative side. Doing something creative that absorbs you is a form of mindfulness meditation (I know I have said this before too but it’s an important one to repeat). Mindfulness has a multitude of health benefits and if you keep at it you will reap those benefits in bucket loads, want some of that?
What Are The Benefits? I Hear You Asking
Here they are:
- Decreases Anxiety, Stress, Depression
- Increases memory, creativity, attention span, reaction times and stamina
- More control over pain and emotional reactions
- Improves Emotional Intelligence
- Reduces Self destructive behaviour
- Improves Immune system
What’s Not to Like About That?
Just by doing something away from technology can be liberating, it will nourish the mind body and soul. If you haven’t read it already, here’s my blog on ‘Soul Food’ a good read, food for thought too…sorry couldn’t resist the pun, I’m a bit of a foody.
- If you are feeling brave enough, have a ‘techy’ free day that includes your mobile phone in the bargain too, why? Because you can practically do everything with a smart phone, you may as well call it a mini laptop.
I tend to do this every Sunday; I leave my phone on silent, people can ring me on my home phone for emergencies, did I hear a sharp intake of breath? If you are a 60’s or 70’s child you’ll understand when I say it isn’t the end of the world not using your mobile for a day, right? I don’ touch the laptop, I potter around, mooch around with the cat who is an excellent teacher of mooching and being present, I may take a soak in the bath, set up a mini spa day in the house for me and the girls, basically, whatever takes my non-techy fancy. The only exception to that rule is if I am working…I work exceptionally hard to avoid working on a Sunday. However, if I am working on a Sunday, I have Saturday as my Techy free day, which I must admit is exceptionally difficult…not sure why though, hence avoiding working on a Sunday. If you have tried it a couple of times and that feels ‘ok’ then perhaps factor in a few hours on a weekday too (this is where the evening classes will come in handy).
Let all your friends and family know that you will have a techy free day each week so they know why you’re not answering your mobile phone.
If the above isn’t enough to convince you of the importance of a tech free day, of being totally present in the moment, I think this will change your mind: https://uk.screen.yahoo.com/best-viral-videos-of-2015/off-phone-man-misses-amazing-012040007-cbs.html
- If you want to limit browsing at work and be more productive, create time slots for checking and responding to emails. I tend to do this for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes after lunch time. Clear your inbox of junk, ‘copied into’ email threads and file away important emails that you may have to go back to. By doing it this way, you will be more focused and productive in carrying out your other tasks. You could use one of your 30 minute browsing allowances at lunch time, this will help you to free up more time in the evening to do other non-techy things.
- On a final note, you are the benefactor of all the good things that come from actually doing the ‘techy Detox’ therefore you need to stick with it…focus, commit and keep at it!
If you find time management and issue read my action planning blogs here.
Let me know how your ‘Techy Detox’ goes: Shahilla@shahillabarok.com