Monday, March 6, 2017

7 WAYS TO QUIET TECHNOLOGY



I recently posted on why I feel the need to quiet technology in my life right now.  If you missed that post, you can read it here.

Today I'm sharing the steps I'm taking in limiting phone use and social media in my life and simple actions that are making a big difference.  

1. WEAR A WATCH
A few years ago, I asked for a watch for my birthday, because I realized that I was often pulling out my phone to check the time.   When you innocently pull out your phone to simply check the time, you also see any notifications you have (a text, voicemail, push notifications from social media, etc.). Too often, the temptation to then read that text, listen to that voicemail, or find out exactly what so-in-so commented on your Facebook post causes that quick time check to spiral into a time suck. Instead of quickly knowing what time it is and going back to playing with my kids or doing whatever it is I'm doing, I am suddenly replying to something that doesn't need my immediate attention or scrolling mindlessly through my Instagram feed, and subsequently shooing my kids away or burning dinner.

So, I now wear a watch, and if I need to check the time, I glance at my wrist.  No push notifications included.  No rabbit trail to go down.

2.  HANG A CLOCK
Along the same lines as wearing a watch, I recently hung a clock in our home that I can see from pretty much anywhere on our main floor.  I didn't know how much I would appreciate that in addition to the watch.  The kids and I both now know what time it is at a moment's glance...which means that they too also aren't tempted to ask for my phone when they see me pull it out to check the time.  No arguments with them over refusing to let them look at pictures on it or play a game.  Out of sight, out of mind, folks!  I swear.

3. GET AN IPHONE CASE WITH A COVER
I requested an new iPhone case for my birthday this year.  It's this one from Amazon.  What I love about this is that I can't see when my screen lights up.  I check my phone when I want to check it and when I have time to check it.  

4. PUT IT AWAY
The other "quieting technology" benefit of my new iPhone case is that it's just a little bit too bulky too feel comfortable in my back pocket, which is where I would normally carry my phone.   I purposefully chose this case for this reason.  I do not need to have my phone on my person at all times, so when I'm out and about I put it in my diaper bag or purse or sometimes my jacket pocket if I'm not carrying one of those things.  

I also have been trying to put my phone away at home.  I put it in one spot (usually the kitchen counter) and not move it if we go to the basement or upstairs for something.  And if I'm feeling really brave and feisty, I'll plug it in upstairs in my bedroom and leave it there.  So not a big deal, but due the expectations of our culture, it feels like a big deal.  I will say though, the more and I do it, the easier it gets.  

There is something mental about having your phone so close to you all the time...pressure that you don't even know you're feeling about meeting expectations to be available to everyone at all times.  And what does that teach my children about what I value?  I lead by example.  If I don't want my kids to be those kids that are constantly on their phones without ever looking up, socially awkward because they don't know how to look someone in the eye and have an actual conversation, distracted all the time, addicted to their phones and the dopamine hit that happens when they get a text or check social media, and having an unrealistic view of real life and impossible expectations, then I can't be that person either.  

My children will emulate what I do, not what I say.

5. TURN OFF PUSH NOTIFICATIONS
This one has been huge.  I have turned off all notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and basically all apps on my phone.  If you have a iPhone, open the Settings App and look for the Notifications Tab (mine is 5 from the top with a red icon).  Once you go into this, you can choose toggle off Allow Notifications for each app.  I do still receive text notifications, phone notifications and notifications from our bank if our account is getting low, but have opted out of push notifications for just about everything else. 

6. BLOCK TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
As you can see, a lot of these things bleed into other things.  Turning off push notifications put social media and my phone in general back on my terms and in my own time.  If I post something, I'm way less distracted by it because I'm not seeing every time someone likes it or comments.  I can choose to open things when I want and when I have time.  

My system is definitely not perfect and I am not super stringent at this point, but instead of looking at social media 10 times a day in tiny spurts here and there, I'm choosing to wait until I have a block of time that I want to devote to it.  Sometimes that means during nap time and sometimes that means at night after kids go to bed and sometimes that means that I don't look at it at all in a day and I'm refreshingly ok with that.  

My FOMO is not longer getting the best of me, because I'm realizing that I'm not really missing out on anything on social media.  However, if I am distracted by it all the time, I am missing out on my real life.  And that, my friends, is something to think about.  

7. GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO SAY NO
Out of all the things on this list, this one is by far the most impactful, but also the hardest (at least in the beginning for me to do).  I want people to think I'm responsible and responsive when they are texting or emailing about something, but I'm not sure over the years when, "I'll get back to you in a day or so," became, "I'll get back to you immediately or in a few minutes or else you'll think I'm a schmuck."  

I'm giving myself permission to not respond to things immediately if it's not a good time, and to stop feeling guilty if I don't.  I'm giving myself permission to not care what people think if I'm not available to them any time of day.   I'm giving myself permission to not have to keep up with my Facebook and Instagram feeds and release myself from feeling the need to "like" people's posts in order to feel like I'm invested in their lives or for them to feel like I "like" them.  I'm giving myself permission to say no to all of it if I want to, and permission to enjoy a few minutes texting with a friend or scrolling through a feed if I want to.  Mostly, I'm giving myself permission to do what feels right for me and my family, because in the end I'll be a better person, mother, wife, and friend for it.       


So there you have it.  7 ways I'm quieting technology in my life right now.  This may not be for you.  I get that.  But as an overwhelmed mom, this has helped so much in my ability to start living a life that serves me and our family well.   I am way less distracted, less annoyed by our kids, more mindful of how I'm spending my time, more able to make choices that are life-giving, and less likely to get stuck in comparisons and unrealistic expectations.  That's worth it to me. 





 

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