Last night I caught a glimpse of a TV show talking about the perils of being addicted to technology. I say ‘caught a glimpse’ because I had one eye on the TV and the other eye on eBay, Facebook, my iPhone and the dog surveying my dinner. In a day and age where we’re ‘plugged in’ more than ever and feeling constantly on-demand I started thinking about the impact technology is having on my own life as I flit from one application to another, kidding myself that being in touch with the world constantly is a good thing. I came to the conclusion it’s not…
I love the fact that I can keep in touch with friends all over the world by logging onto Facebook; I enjoy getting a shot of retail therapy through my laptop whilst sitting on the sofa; and being able to access my emails from a gazillion different applications means I always feel in touch with what’s going on in my business.
But what all of this also means is that I’m generally typing something during an ad-break, answering a phone call during a nice relaxing walk, or making email my first priority the second I get out of bed. I get palpitations if I go out and forget my phone, and have a near-heart attack if my internet connection goes down for a split second. And as I type this I’m realising how unhealthy this socially-accepted behavior is…
A study conducted by the University of Glasgow found that half of the participants reported checking their email once an hour, while some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour. And an AOL study revealed that 59% of PDA users check every single time an email arrives and 83% check email every day on vacation. Now factor in text messaging, social-media status updates and phone calls – it’s a wonder we’ve got time to do anything else in our lives other than update, answer, and reply!
Don’t get me wrong, all of these applications and devices give us valuable connections to the outside world, and afford us the ability to do things from far-flung places that we previously had never thought possible. But indulging in a constant tangled web of technology can become a harmful habit that builds up over time, and just like trying to lose weight or stop smoking, you need to firstly admit that something needs to change in order to mend your unhealthy ways.
So what are the costs of this behavior? Well for starters my mind is never rested. Until those lights are turned off and the earplugs go in, I’m still alert and ready for updates! On top of that, my sleep is compromised as I duly found out on at 4am yesterday morning when a friend texted me from South Africa to say she was cooking a roast. Vital information when I’m in the Land Of Nod? Of course not. And do you think I could I get back to sleep afterwards? Hell no.
Then there’s the problem of reading an email that gets your mind racing when you should be having some down-time, or seeing a status-update that gets the voices in your head working overtime. There’s also the distracted mindset when you’re trying to talk to someone AND answer a text message at the same time, or you’re spotted checking your email when you should be giving someone important your undivided attention.
All of these scenarios cost you time and focus, not to mention potentially changing the perception people have of you for the worse, as well as your own sanity. Yes it’s great to be connected but there is also a lot to be said for finding a healthy balance.
I talk about the pitfalls of multitasking all the time in a work-context, but if I’m honest I’m still falling foul of this harmful mindset when I clock off at night and get some ‘Faye-Time’. Instead of truly relaxing and giving my body and mind a break, I’m normally found plugged into some piece of technology researching this, updating that, and generally whiling away the hours splitting my attention between my husband, the TV, my dog and my treacherous addition to technology.
So what am I going to do? Well for starters breakfast comes before email, the laptop is now banned from the bedroom, and my mobile goes on silent as soon as I hit the sack. Facebook updates can wait after the sun goes down, and there’s no reason why my email should still be working over-time past 6pm.
What I hope to achieve from this unplugging is a calmer mind in the evenings where I can spend some quality time with my husband without the ping of emails distracting me, and the jitters that I haven’t updated Facebook clouding my ability to enjoy the present moment.
I’d love to hear about your tales of technology – the good, the bad and the ugly – please post a comment below…
Written by Faye Hollands – Director at Outshine Consulting.
Faye is an accomplished Career Coach and Time Management Specialist who has successfully coached countless clients on how to create a career they love, get more done in less time, and achieve personal and professional success. You can contact Faye on +61 2 8323 4335 or email email@example.com
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