Technology gives us the opportunity to be “always on” and the illusion of increased productivity. The reality is that it’s not healthy, and over the long run you will be less productive.
Even understanding this, it can be hard to resist the pressure to quickly check email or whip off a quick response, especially if you believe your boss or customers will be unhappy if you don’t respond immediately.
To ensure your continued good health, productivity and positive relationships, confront your beliefs about being indispensable, negotiate new expectations around how quickly you need to respond, and make intentional decisions to create “off time.”
These 7 habits can help you turn off technology for a more tuned in life.
1. Stop multi-tasking. Many people view the ability to multi-task as an admirable skill. They believe they are able to accomplish more. But studies have shown that you actually accomplish less and do it less well. The illusion of productivity comes at the expense of performance effectiveness. The less you multi-task, the less you’ll be tempted to slip a little work in.
2. Change your mindset. Identify what you consider “work” and consider everything else “off.” “Off” can be when you’re with your family, at dinner with friends, or even taking a walk by yourself. During “off” time, don’t even think about work. Put your full attention on who you’re with and what you’re doing.
3. Set up a backup strategy. Sometimes, things will just pop up even when you’re not thinking about work. So what do you do with the important ideas that pop up while you’re “off”? Do NOT pull out your mobile device and make a quick call or send a quick text. It’s guaranteed to pull you away from who you are with. Try to trust that if it’s important enough, the thought will reoccur. As a backup, keep a piece of paper or card in your wallet. If you get a brilliant idea that you can’t afford to forget, jot down a few key words… and then put it away.
4. Schedule “off” time. Set and honor specific times that are dedicated to being with family or friends and, also being alone doing things you enjoy. Structure comes more easily for some than others. If you’re one of the people who doesn’t like structure, it’s even more important for you to do this, so you can be intentional about creating the life you really want.
5. Just say, “no.” Let people know that you are changing your habits and are not going to respond to text and email or answer your phone for work related matters during personal time unless there is a true emergency. If they understand this ahead of time, most people will respect your boundaries. They will begin to schedule meetings during times you’re available, and you will discover that many so-called emergencies are not as urgent as they seem at first.
6. Pay attention to your breathing. Focusing on your breathing brings your attention away from your thoughts and back to what is immediately present. During “off time,” occasionally notice how you’re breathing. If your breath is rapid and located high in your chest, take a deep breath and exhale slowly. Spend a moment focused on your breathing until you are breathing slowly and from a deeper place, which is how we breathe when we are relaxed.
7. Be clear about your priorities. Create a clear vision for what you truly desire and what’s most important to you that explains where you’re going and what you value most. It’s tempting to say “yes” to every request, but it comes at a cost. It will help you know when to say “yes” and when to say “no” if you know what your priorities are.
“Just because technology makes it possible to be always available,
doesn’t mean you should be.”