Take Control of Your Tech Habits
Commonsense strategies for keeping digital devices from ruling your life.
CHALLENGE: A flood of data, info, news, gossip, messages, humor, and requests can overwhelm us and make us spend more time online than we want.
STRATEGIES: In the information blizzard, it's not possible to keep up. Accept that. Choose your sources wisely, budget the time you spend there, and when you feel your mind tiring, move on.
CHALLENGE: You're so caught up in checking and responding to email messages, texts, and phone calls that you have too little focused quiet time.
STRATEGIES: Come back to your body, to doing one thing at a time and knowing why you're doing it. Plan times and situations when you connect and times to unplug. Stick with the plan.
Friends, partners stuck on their devices
CHALLENGE: The people you want to spend time with are too busy spending time with people who aren't there.
STRATEGIES: It may seem petty, but it's essential to agree on when it's acceptable for each of you to be on your devices and when it's not. And with partners, it's key to have times when you're unplugging together.
Social media anxiety
CHALLENGE: The number of connections becomes more than you can manage and the friendships can get awkward.
STRATEGIES: It's so easy to say yes to social media. You might be left out, and a rising friend count can make you feel more connected, but just saying no can add space to your life.
Children spending too much time staring at screens
CHALLENGE: You can never get your children's attention because they're always absorbed in texting, social media, or web surfing.
STRATEGIES: Accept your children's digital life, take a strong interest in it, talk about it. Then, it's a shared thing. You're also in a better position to impose limits to screen time and social media habits, if you need to.
This article also appeared in the August 2013 issue of Mindful magazine as part of a feature, titled "A User's Guide to Living Well in Screenworld."
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