Digitally Disconnecting: The Art of Balancing Life and Tech

It’s getting harder to remember those “good old days” before email, cloud apps, and smart phones when work was left at the office at 5:00 and you were free of it until you walked in the next morning.

Today, we think nothing of checking our work email during dinner or answering a Slack message on the weekend. And these digital distractions also invade our family life. Have you ever found yourself looking at just one YouTube video, then 6 hours and multiple videos later, realized your Saturday had disappeared? 

Cybersecurity has also become an issue and one that can mean our identities are stolen or credit cards breached at the click of a button.

Always being connected has had its advantages when it comes to being able to access information like we never have before, but at what cost?

Technology has been around long enough now for studies to begin to give us data on its impact on our mental health and well-being and the statistics for too much connectiveness are not good.

  • A study by the University of Michigan found that use of Facebook caused a decrease in happiness and life satisfaction.
  • Heavy cellphone use in young adults was linked to systems of depression in a study by the University of Gothenburg.
  • Australian researchers found that compulsive internet use by adolescents caused poorer mental health.

We’ve even begun to tell kids “no screens” at dinner and everyone knows what that means.

Of course, technology is part of our lives and there’s no going back, so how do you balance the need to be connected with the need to also live a well-balanced life?

First, let’s dispel some fallacies about the need to always be connected and in motion, then take a look at ways you can set boundaries for a happier tech/life balance.

Multitasking & Other Falsehoods of Technology

One thing that the speed of technology has enabled is the ability to do several things at once. Also known as multitasking. You can be working on a spreadsheet on your desktop while having a text conversation at the same time.

But are you really more efficient when you multitask? Multiples studies tell us, no.

Multitasking leads to a 40% reduction in productivity. 

We are much more efficient when we can fully concentrate on a task, and even though we trick ourselves into thinking that we’re awesome multitaskers, we’re actually just giving less of our brainpower to each task – not multiplying it.

There’s a popular video from nearly a decade ago that illustrates the shortcomings of the brain when asked to multitask. The video shows a team practicing basketball and asks the viewer to focus on how many times players in white shirts pass the ball. At the end of the video, most users never see a gorilla that walks through the court.

Here are some other fallacies you’ve been trained to buy into with tech.

“Alerts are Great”

How many different pings, dings, and bleeps, do you hear a day as the result of alerts? Everything wants to tell us to pay attention to it. And we think that we’re staying in the know, but we’re actually being interrupted multiple times per day, negatively impacting our home and work life. 

Studies show that it typically takes someone 15-20 minutes to get into the same mental capacity they were at on a task after being interrupted. 

“Social Media Makes Me Happy”

While it’s great to connect with old friends on social media, the constant streaming through timelines and clicking our approval in the form of an emoji isn’t really making us any happier. Many studies show it’s doing the opposite if you spend too much time on it. 

Companies like Facebook and Twitter have spent millions studying human psychology, and each button on the screen and sound that you hear when you click is engineered to give you a little dopamine rush, which is short lived and a high price to pay for the information those clicks give them and their advertisers.

Tips for Digitally Disconnecting

Being aware of the problems with using technology too much is a big step towards fixing the problem and creating a better balance in your life for your mental and physical well-being.

Here are some of the tips that can help you digitally disconnect without completely turning into a hermit.

Limit Your Alerts

Do you really need to be alerted every time you’ve earned more stamps at the grocery store? Not really, and there are typically many other alerts that you don’t need to be interrupted with every minute of the day.

Limit your alerts to those that are truly important, like a Slack message (during business hours) from your boss or skype calls from your kids. Go through your apps turn off alerts that you don’t need or opt for less invasive options, like getting an email instead.

Set Work/Life Boundaries

If a Microsoft Teams message comes in at 9PM, you’re going to feel the necessity to answer it. You think, it’s just a few minutes, but those minutes can easily turn into hours of home and family time gone. 

Many work apps have settings that allow you to set “off hours” so the sender knows you won’t see the message right away, and you’re not getting alerted. It might be hard at first, but once you stop responding to non-important work messages during your off hours, you’ll find that people stop expecting you to.

Set the Example at Home with Screen-Free Time

It’s easy for everyone to “de-stress” after work and school by going to their corners and pulling out their screens. Make a habit of screen-free time where everyone can do activities together or just enjoy reading books the old-fashioned way or working in the garden to remind them that there’s more to life than technology.

Give Yourself Free Brain Space

There are so many great ideas that come to people in the shower. Why? Because they have free brain space and the ability to let their mind wander. When we’re connected to our technology, we’re getting tons of input all the time, which doesn’t give your brain the ability to create.

Make a point of giving yourself non-tech time where you can just play, think, dream, either while out walking or just meditating quietly. You’ll find that your brain has a lot of great things in there if you just disconnect for a while.

Looking for Ways to Balance Your Life?  

Genuine Technology Group not only helps companies choose and run their tech efficiently we can also help you make wise decisions on how that technology is set up to offer a better balance for you and your team with less distractions. 

If you’re looking for some balance, give us a call and let’s chat! We’re here for you at 971-288-0880 or through our website.