How to get some headspace from your tech use

I was already struggling with my digital use before the new working from home setup. It’s been a constant battle for me for years – trying to find the balance of running a digital business that means that I need to ‘present’ online and working mostly with online tools – it’s a constant source of frustration and anxiety for me. When I spend too much time online it has an impact on how I feel – distracted and stressed with little headspace.

So, the past few weeks my tech use has gone into major overdrive. And consequently, I have a permanent headache and I’ve been more distracted, less creative and rather snappy. Last weekend I decided enough was enough and I needed to get this under control.

I firstly re-read some advice from the wonderful business and mindset coach, Emily Hodge – Here’s what she said when asked for suggestions for someone who wants to get their digital usage under control?

Be aware of how you’re feeling when you’re going online – am I tired, stressed, anxious, happy, settled, rushed? This might impact what you’re looking at and how you interpret anything.

Ask yourself if you’re going online to get a feeling – relief, confidence, time out etc. No problem if so but then ask how you could get that feeling elsewhere, offline.

Check out your values and whether anything you’re doing online doesn’t align to your values and, frankly, what makes you feel good. Ask yourself if it’s more important to follow this person or use email this much or ‘like’ all those posts rather than feel happier by not doing those things in the same way.

Finally, don’t think you have to completely detox to get it under control – make consistent changes that are right for you, that also you to work and connect online positively, and you’ll feel better for the longer term. You can read more about this here.

With that in mind, I have introduced a few new boundaries that I’ll be tinkering around with for a bit:

  1. Turn off all notifications. Yep. The reality is that we are online more anyway so we don’t need the constant reminder of new messages pinging all day. Turn them all off (phone, laptop, smartwatch).
  2. Leave your phone at home. When you are out and about doing the groceries or doing exercise leave your phone at home. Let’s face it, nothing much has going to change in that short space of time. It will help you to realise you don’t need it with you 24/7.
  3. Phone stack all phones at mealtimes. This means everyone has to put their phones in the middle of the table and no one can touch them until the mealtime is over. If someone does – they are on dishes.
  4. Don’t take your phone into the bathroom. Unless you are taking it to specifically listen to a session on the Clementine app or any other mindful/meditation type activity – the loo is a great place for these. But if you are just aimlessly scrolling in the loo, leave it behind. Another small trick is to spend an extra few minutes in the loo just hanging out. Not rushing. Try to slow down and relax a little.
  5. Introduce screen time on your phone – most phones have a screen time setting which allows you to set a time each day when apps will be locked from use. Genius. It means that if you really do need to use an app you are making a conscious decision about your usage vs filling time.

There is no right or wrong way and you’ll probably need to play around with different options before working out what works for you. Kim.

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