(BPT) – Is your device your vice? Americans think they are able to easily balance their technology use with their regular activities, but when the numbers are crunched, perception doesn’t match up with reality.
One in four Americans report they get stressed out when they’re away from their email or phone for longer than 30 minutes, according to a survey conducted by GMI and commissioned by Crucial.com. And 84 percent of male respondents admitted to checking a mobile device while driving, in a movie theater, at a funeral or at a child’s play or recital.
Technology overuse is making many Americans feel guilty about the amount of time they spend digitally connected. Life balance expert, Mary LoVerde, author of “Stop Screaming at the Microwave” and “I Used To Have A Handle On Life But It Broke,” provides the following tips on how you can reconnect with your friends and family, and help balance your use of technology.
1. Establish personal tech-life balance policies.
Take a look at what you value and set some policies to help you stay connected to what’s most important. For example, everyone values family time, but it is not always prioritized. You might make a family policy that limits technology at the dinner table, after 9 p.m. or while your children complete their homework. Maybe you and your partner agree to shut off technology for an hour before bed to give attention to each other.
You no doubt value your safety and the safety of those around you. So make a strict policy that texting and driving is an unacceptable practice, and then stick to it. Announce to others out loud what your policies are. A clear and public declaration can lead to peer pressure, which can help ensure that you stay true to your promises.
2. Maximize your devices’ efficiency.
Waiting for programs to load can be a frustrating time-waster so make your devices as user-friendly as possible. The speed and amount of memory you’ve got installed helps determine how fast applications are able to operate. Upgrading your system’s memory and software and closing the apps you are not using are simple low-cost ways to help your technology help you.
3. Pick sleep over technology.
Checking Instagram, e-mail, or LinkedIn cannot compete with the benefit of a half hour more sleep each night. In many ways, your brain is a computer, too. At night this neurological PC repairs genes, secretes many regulatory hormones (including the one that makes you lose weight), conjures up the necessary dreams that keep you sane and stores information you learned that day – to note just a few of the many things it does to reset your body. Given the choice between technology and sleep, opt to get some more shuteye.
4. Look up.
Seriously, every once in a while just look up and see what is going on in the real world all around you. Make eye contact. Smile at someone. Breathe deeply. Pay attention to the world. There is magic out there that you are missing.
5. Stop taking yourself so seriously.
We need to understand that when we let go of some of our technology, other ideas will come into clearer focus. We have to believe that Chicken Little’s sky will not fall if we log off for an hour. If we miss a selfie, a posting, or a call, the planets will remain in orbit and in the meantime, if we are lucky, we will have reconnected with our humanness in a meaningful way.