Yes, we’ve all heard it before. Have a “no technology day” by turning off all your computers, phones, TVs, and tablets for a full day and just being present! I get it. It’s beautiful, when we can do it. But let’s get real – that’s not our day to day lives! What’s more valuable is learning how to use technology in a more mindful manner. So let’s go a bit deeper, shall we?
1. FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS
We all know we shouldn’t be bringing our phones to the dinner table. But how often do we think about how else we’re using our devices, and what message it sends to our children? You can bet they’re noticing if we’re watching Grey’s Anatomy over their heads while playing with them on the floor, as I was just last week. However, I was able to quickly become aware of what I was doing and was able to ask myself, “Where should my focus be at this moment?” None of us should feel responsible for being 100% focused on our children 100% of the time. However, when we aren’t we should be choosing this consciously, rather than as the result of distraction. To do otherwise tells our children – or anyone we are spending time with for that matter – that they are less important than the object capturing our attention.
2. DON’T BE A SLAVE
People check their phones 150 times a day, according to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers’s annual Internet Trends report, and that was in 2013. When I started this business and the website and social media accounts that went with it, it felt practically impossible NOT to check my phone every 5 minutes! “OMG a new follower! Someone liked me on Facebook!” The solution? Turn off your mobile notifications! Set certain times per day that you check social media, and stick to those. The same goes for those of us working in the corporate world – can you really focus on your projects with email or IMs popping up every 2 seconds? Log out of IM! Schedule times for your email to sync so you only receive them in batches every 4 hours. Multitasking is myth, and these changes can help us better focus our attention.
3. NURTURE MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS
As long as we don’t let social media platforms replace our in-person relationships, they can be a powerful tool for connection when we are doing so authentically. So ask yourself, when you are liking something, do you really like it? If the answer is no, don’t click that button just to satisfy someone else’s online ego. If the answer is yes but you are simply “liking” a post from someone where they really opened up, do you have something else to add? Take the time to say the thing you are thinking in your head, the thing you would say if you were in person, in the comments! We’ve been using Skype since our daughter was born to visit with her grandparents who live out of state, and she now knows who they are even though she’s only met them once in person. Technology can connect us to others in so many ways, as long as we make the leap to reach out!
4. CHOOSE CONTENT MINDFULLY
I can mindlessly play Candy Crush for countless hours, or I can choose to spend my time online using Pinterest to collect ideas for activities to do with my daughter. I could hand my daughter a tablet with Netflix playing to calm her during a road trip, or I can take the time to research educational apps and allow her to play Endless ABC. Becoming more aware of how we are spending our time online allows to use it to enrich our lives rather than waste it.
5. CHOOSE MINDFUL CONTENT
As mindfulness becomes more mainstream, there are more and more options in the app store to help us with our practice. I’ve used Meditation Timer for years to track my meditation sittings. A group of coworkers and I use Headspace for guided lunchtime meditations. I’ve heard positive things about the Breathe app, and here’s a list of free mindfulness apps worthy of your attention. For the kiddos, Belly Breathe with Elmo is a great way to entertain while teaching children concepts that will help them combat anger and anxiety. Okay, my daughter may have seen that one a few times too..
For every way we can mindlessly use technology, there is an equally mindful way to use it. We’ve been given tools with the tremendous power to help us learn and connect, if we use them wisely! This practice is still a a daily struggle for me. So please share with me in the comments below: how do YOU balance technology and mindful presence?
baby’s first selfie! (smartphone required)
Hate spam? ME TOO! I guarantee the privacy of your email address.