How to Maintain a Healthy, Well-Balanced Technology Diet

I once attended a conference where a woman told a story about how her son had recently drawn a family picture. What was remarkable about the story was that her son, rather than drawing his mother’s face, drew her as a laptop. This, the woman said, was her wake-up moment. Technology had taken over her life and her divided attention was having a substantial impact on her loved ones.


I’m sure she’s not the only parent who has experienced a moment like this. As a working mom, I understand how easy it is to be drawn away from everything when you have several screens competing for your attention alongside your kids, partners, friends and co-workers.


The Digital Era has ushered in a steady dependence on technology to help us run our personal lives and careers day to day. We’ve become so attached to our devices that one study found “67 percent of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls—even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.


At this point, technology isn’t going anywhere, and the sooner we come to terms with that fact, the sooner we can learn how to live with the complexity of it, rather than run from it. Technology can be part of the solution we need, but only if we are intentional about learning how to control it.


As outlined in my upcoming book, The Future of Happiness (April 2017, BenBella Books), here are four simple, practical strategies to help you maintain a healthy, well-balanced technology diet:


Download Apps That Work for You

As a society, we have bought into the idea that smart tech can do smart things; but using smart tech smartly is a whole other issue. There are millions of apps out there intended to inform, educate and entertain us. The trick is to find and download those apps that work for us as busy mompreneurs. HINT: Here’s a list of great mompreneur apps to help you get started!


You also want to make sure to hold your apps accountable for their usefulness in your life. After a few months of usage of benchmarking and tracking your progress, ask yourself: what changes have you seen over the last week? Month? Year? Shift your priorities and get rid of any apps that have not made a significant impact on your life and happiness.



Protect Your Brain’s Consolidation Time

Just like our technology (ironically), our brains need time to download and consolidate all the information it gathers throughout the day. If our downtime is being filled with digital distractions (surfing Facebook, playing phone games, etc.), the brain has no time left to process the world and form long-term memories.


Establish tech-free brain breaks throughout your day to help your brain recharge, whether it’s right before bed, taking a phoneless walk on your lunch break, or playing with your kids.


Don’t use your phone at least one hour before you go to bed. According to a study, 44 percent of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night. Don’t do this. Those updates will still be there when you wake up in the morning.



Post Your Goals Somewhere Visible

Posting your goals helps to eliminate distractions and focus on being grounded in the present.


Set up visual reminders of your priorities, whether they be pictures of your family, new year’s resolutions, or tasks you want to complete by the end of the week, month, etc.


Make sure they are in a place where you can see them every day. My goals, for example, are written on a large chalkboard wall in my kitchen. Visitors who came to our house were also inspired to make their own lists, too!



Model Digital Citizenship

Establish hard-and-fast rules for your use of technology when interacting with others. Close your laptop when having a conversation, and take your ear buds out to say hello when someone walks into the room. Establish boundaries for the kinds of apps you choose to download. If you model digital citizenship, the people who surround you, especially your kids, will pick up on these healthy habits, too.


Beyond using these tips, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you have the ability to change your mindset. You are welcome to let technology run your life, but just as simply, you are allowed to take control of your technology. Our devices can have a positive effect in our lives, but only if we allow it.


As Shakespeare once said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”


 

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Amy Blankson

Author at Amy Blankson
Amy Blankson has become one of the world’s leading experts on the connection between positive psychology and technology. She is the only person to be named a Point of Light by two presidents (President George Bush Sr. and President Bill Clinton) for creating a movement to activate positive culture change. A sought-after speaker and consultant, Amy has now worked with organizations like Google, NASA, the US Army, and the Xprize Foundation to help foster a sense of well-being in the Digital Era. Amy received her BA from Harvard and MBA from Yale School of Management. Most recently, she was a featured professor in Oprah’s Happiness course. Amy is the author of two books: The Future of Happiness and an award-winning children’s book called Ripple’s Effect, and is the mother of three girls who remind her on a daily basis why it is so important to create a happier future for all.
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