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Chasing Shiny Objects

If you haven’t heard, we live in a world dependent on technology. We chase technology as if our lives depends on it – and sometimes it does. For some, it’s a requirement. For others, it’s a vice. Regardless of which realm you exist in – maybe it’s both – technology will forever surround us and new innovations will continually be revealed. Technology is used to make our lives easier, extend our life expectancy, save someone we love, and give us time back through streamlining and automating processes.

Why wouldn’t we chase something that adds so much value to our life?

Unfortunately, not all technology provides the aforementioned value. If used improperly, it can be truly detrimental to your quality of life. Technology is meant to improve the world, not consume it.

Let’s use the analogy of a grocery store.  If you were placed in the middle of the grocery store with unlimited options and unlimited budget, would you make the right decisions as what to buy? Surely, you can find the healthiest, most nutritious items your store has to offer – sorry for calling you, Surely.These items will improve your quality of life, increase your life expectancy, and give you more energy.  But would you find yourself migrating to the processed, high-glycemic carbohydrates and foods? As with food choices, it’s not always easy to make the best decisions on how and where we spend our valuable time and energy on technology.

Compound that with the constant barrage of emails, texts, push notifications, Facebook likes/pokes/instant messages, etc., and technology is slowly becoming more of a detriment to productivity, time, and energy than it’s original intent.
So what can we do, right now, to stop the punishment and build better habits?  Here are some recommended solutions:

Problem:
We want to immediately respond to emails, especially with clients/bosses, to show that we are “Johnny-on-the-Spot” – available to serve at a moment’s notice (urgent or not).

Solution:
“Pause” or block your email for certain times of the day. I recommend doing this during business hours, i.e. between 10am and 2pm.  And yes, I can already hear the critics – “My business survives off emails, I could never do that.” I can tell you right now, if your business survives off emails, outside of being a MailChimp or Constant Contact service, you have bigger problems than technology and productivity. I recommend you stop reading this article and realign your values.
A wise man once said, “Meditate for 20 minutes a day. If you don’t have 20 minutes a day to meditate than meditate for an hour.”  This isn’t an article about self actualization. It’s about protecting your time and energy.

Inbox Pause – http://inboxpause.com/ – is a Gmail extension that let’s you pause your email. You could also set a simple auto responder to recur on the schedule you set.
*Tip: Try spending less than 2 hours per day with your inbox unpaused. Only allow yourself a 2 hour window (maybe one hour in the morning & one hour in the evening) to check and respond to emails. Once you have mastered that, cut it down to 1 hour.  You will thank me later.

Problem:
We lack a sense of time spent on technological nonsense everyday. Therefore, we have no way to audit if we are being detrimental to our precious energy. That which can be measured can be evaluated and improved upon.

Solution:
While working, use time-tracking applications/processes that run seamlessly in the background of your computer. These applications will help to audit your time spent on daily tasks. “Big Brother!” you scream. This is for your eyes only, so you know where you stand. Just like losing weight, calories in must be less than calories out – but you first need to know how many calories you are consuming.

Use a tracking application like Rescue Time – https://www.rescuetime.com/ – to get a baseline of how and where you are spending your time.
* Tip: Take the time that the report gives you and multiply by 1.2 to compensate for the time on your phone or mobile device between Instagram, emails and other nonsense.

Problem:
Technology burnout. Remember the last day without your phone or computer? Me neither. Technology impairment is not much different than drinking impairment. If you spent half your day bellied up to the bar, wouldn’t your friends and family be a little concerned. Sadly, society has accepted technology impairment as the norm, not the exception.

Solution:
Ditch the computer or phone for an extended time, preferably a week or longer, once every 6 months. Disconnecting can truly give you a greater appreciation for your life and the people and places around you. It will also prove that the world is going to keep spinning with, or without, our Twitter rants. ‘Stopping to smell the roses’ will only help refine your perspective on why you’re here on Earth and what your purpose is – not to mention save your sanity.

The greatest minds in the world are the ones who are successful at stepping back and observing the world for what it is, not what they are fed. Stimulus addiction is blinding. Try being the minority among those around you. Step back and detox. You might be surprised by what you find.

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