Less Is More - Technology

 By Charity

  • Most of us will agree that we could all use a break from our devices
  • But how can you skillfully limit your exposure to so many elements vying for your attention?
  • We share three simple steps for improving our relationship with technology  

Emails, web browsers, podcasts, laptops, smartphones, Instagram, Facebook . . . the list is endless when you think about all the avenues taken to get information to us. Every day, 304 billion emails are sent, and 5 million tweets are made.

How do you limit your exposure to so many elements vying for your attention? First remember that your time, your attention, is valuable and should be cared for as such. Minimizing distractions from technology is all about taking the power back to build the intentional life you aspire to create. 

In this article, I want to introduce you to three simple steps for improving our relationship with technology so that we minimize distractions. 

Assess your use (know what you consume)

We won’t be as successful with behavioral changes, especially when it comes to forming new habits, if we aren’t aware of what our current behavior is. The first step to reducing the noise related to our consumption of technology is being aware of your relationship with it today.  

This is an ongoing process for me. I need to assess my use for work, personal and new venture endeavors. The goal is to reduce the amount of devices and apps I use in total by stacking functions across my responsibilities.

I start by jotting down my technology uses across the following categories: social, communication, productivity, research and inspiration. What are the main tools that I use for each of these functions?

After laying this out visually, I can quickly identify where certain digital tools provide overlapping functions. For example, I can use Instagram and LinkedIn, both highly social apps, to conduct research for new ventures or for building new relationships. However, I prefer to rely on phone and video chat for more meaningful communication measures. 

Turn off notifications

There is a lot of science behind how social media has taken such a demonstrative role in our daily lives. When we receive a notification, the reward circuitry in our brains is triggered. Dopamine is released and that quick anxious hit leaves us wanting for more.

When we understand that these apps were deliberately designed to entice us to give up as much of our attention for free, we can begin to reclaim our attention. Driven by an advertising-based profit model, social media’s form and function is not going anywhere for some time. So it is up to us to take the necessary measures to protect our brains and emotions from being controlled by a technology device. 

I noticed immediately the relationship with my smartphone change when I turned off certain email and social media notifications. No longer was I aimlessly picking up my phone to scroll through the notifications.

Setting up a specific time of the day or of the week to visit each app, such as Instagram or personal email, can help facilitate gaining more control and awareness. This also gives our brains a much needed break!

Turning off unnecessary notifications is a simple, yet powerful, action to take that will improve your relationship with consumption and make sure that you devote your time to things that are more deeply meaningful to you.

Assign a purpose to each application

I have a strong love-hate relationship with Instagram. Because I am a visual person, I love to see beautiful images of places, food and people fill my feed. But if I’m not careful, I quickly can be sucked into a thirty minute to hours of mindless scrolling and clicking, as if I was in front of the slot machine (which is how the app was intentionally designed, by the way, to create that emotional hook of wanting more). 

So in addition to taking occasional social media breaks, I’ve more recently determined that I must set a clearly defined intention for the purpose of each of the technology devices and apps I use. The more intention we live by, the more freedom we can have in this life. 

My personal rule is to limit my engagement with certain apps or technology devices until I have written down its purpose and the eventual goal. You can do the same! With this intention, I can build out a schedule for when I will engage with the app for its assigned purpose. This helps me stay focused and combat its powerful force that wants me to get lost in the never-ending rabbit trail of nothingness.  

What are some of the ways you minimize distractions from technology?