Updated: Feb 19, 2019
" The average American spends four years of their life looking down at their cell phone."
We live in a digital world that is constantly plugged in and “connected.” The average American is on social media for about eight hours a day. Think about that for a second. We spend as much time on social media as we do sleeping and working (or as we should be). It can be hard to pull ourselves away from technology for more than a few minutes, but the reality is that in a world of constant “connection” we are losing touch with reality and with actual connection. It is so important to make sure that we make the time to reconnect with the offline world. What we are suggesting is not that you quit using technology entirely, but that you work to strike a balance between your online and offline time in your own life and on your own schedule.
I have put together some tips on how to achieve that balance. Realize that training your mind to let go of technology even for a little while can be difficult; these tips are just here to make it a little easier. Use what works for you, and feel free to give suggestions in the comments below on how you manage the balance between your online and offline life.
Tip #1- Be very aware of nighttime technology use.
This tip is multi-faceted. Your screens emit a blue wavelength that keeps you excited and addicted to technology. After dinner every night, switch your phone to night shift to enhance some of the more relaxing red tones that allow you to wean yourself off of the screen. Plug your phone in to charge somewhere other than the bedroom and buy a real alarm clock to wake you up in the morning. Spend thirty minutes or so before you go to sleep reading or writing in a journal or literally doing anything that does not involve a screen. Not only will you sleep better, but you will have freed up three-and-a-half hours of extra time a week. In addition, using an alarm clock will allow you time to wake up in the morning without the distraction of a screen. The little things add up.
Tip #2- Make a point to have offline interactions with people.
This includes calling them on the phone instead of texting. Set up weekly dates with a friend to go out to lunch. Invest some time and commitment in an extracurricular activity. Most towns have adult sports leagues for relatively low cost. Take music lessons. Do something at least once a week that allows you (or even forces you) to interact with people. That is how relationships are formed and built. Only use your online life to enhance your offline life, not replace it.
Tip #3- Give yourself a specific time every day to indulge your social media addiction.
This is the time you take every day to go wild and scroll to your heart’s content. However, this is all the time you have for that. I like to take thirty minutes in the morning and thirty minutes or so at night at least an hour before bed to indulge. Then, I can keep it out of the productive parts of the day, while still having satisfied the desire. The greatest part of this tip is that you can do it when it is most convenient for you. The key is to not let social media slip into other parts of the day that are designated for other uses. If managed correctly, this will also help you to avoid having to use blocking software or self-control programs to stay off of social media. "You cannot autocorrect your life; you must do it yourself."
Tip #4- Take technology vacations.
You will be amazed at how beautiful the sky is and how interesting your thoughts are when you shut down all technology for one day a week. People announce on Facebook all the time that they are taking an extreme thirty day fast from social media, but for most of us, that is unreasonable. We have lives. We work hard. There are literally things we will entirely miss during that time. While the idea of a social media fast is excellent, there are ways to do it that are not quite so extreme. Choose one day a week, and just turn off all technology. Shut down computers, put phones away, interact with family and friends, or just spend some much-needed quiet time alone. On a more day-to-day level, make mealtimes and thirty minutes before bedtime a time to set aside technology and interact with family or take a few quiet minutes.
There are so many creative ways to balance your online and offline life. These four tips are meant to be basic, general ideas for you to take and adapt to fit your own individual needs, but they are not meant to be magical cures. They take time and commitment and being intentional with your time. Use them, adapt them, and grow through them.
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