8 Ways to Be More Present (and Break Free of Technology)
How often do you see people out in public ignoring each other while on their phones? You may shake your head and criticize those who favor technology over real life. But the truth is that technology today is a part of real life. We all have phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and smartwatches.
The challenge with all new technology is that it starts to override our habits. We don’t plan on spending hours on our devices, it just happens.
The worst part is that our kids are watching our every move and learning from us. Kids already love playing with technology from a young age. And when they see parents spending the majority of their time on their phone or computer, they soon follow suit.
If we want our kids to have a better relationship with technology, we have to start with ourselves. As parents, we have to look at our own habits.
Here are 8 ways that can help you reset your habits around technology that will help you live a more present life, and be a better example for your kids.
1) Don’t Sleep Next To Your Phone
In today’s world, a lot of people use their cell phone as their alarm clock. While this might seem convenient, it also sets you up for distractions during the night, and makes you start your day with your phone in your hand.
Invest in an alarm clock (they cost less than $20) and keep your phone in another room while you sleep. You will find it strange for a few weeks, but soon you will find you have a much more restful night’s sleep.
2) No Tech One Hour Before Bed
The other way to have more restful sleep is to stop using digital technology an hour before bed. This might seem impossible for some people, but simply reading a book, listening to music or simply talking to your family. The less blue light (from electronics) you are exposed to each night, the better your sleep patterns will be.
3) Put Your Phone in The Trunk
Do you have a bad habit of checking texts while you drive? One simple solution that will stop this behavior is to put your phone in the trunk of your car before you drive away. That way you have no chance of not being present during your drive. A lesser version is to store your phone in your center console or glove compartment during your drive (as long as you have the discipline not to use it).
4) No Phones at the Dinner Table
For families that eat dinner together, the inclusion of phones at the dinner table can be a problem. The temptation to stare at your phone instead of speaking to each other is always there. Make your kitchen and dining room a ‘no phone zone’ and you will find everyone communicating more often.
5) Spend Your First Hour Tech Free
When you wake up in the morning, instead of reaching for your phone, try spending a few minutes just waking up. Go outside and get some morning air, make a cup of coffee and enjoy the morning for a few minutes. If you can, make some breakfast and eat it without the use of technology as part of your morning. If you can reserve the first hour of your day for yourself (and not your emails, social media or texts) you will find you have more clarity every day.
6) Use a Paper To-Do List
One way to reduce your reliance on technology is to simply use a paper to-do list. It might seem outdated when you have reminders and notes on your phone, but it can actually help you focus. When you have your lists on your phone, then you are tempted to check your social media, emails or get distracted by other activities. Writing down your to-do list by hand and ticking off items really helps increase your dopamine levels, and it raises your level of focus.
7) Get Outdoors Each Day
A simple ‘hack’ to reduce your phone time is to go outside. Sitting in the sun, getting some fresh air, being close to nature all have a calming and renewing effect on our psyche. Human beings are not meant to spend all their time glued to screens. Our brains better tune to circadian rhythms when we spend time outside in natural light. Take a 20-minute walk outside without your phone and notice how much better you feel.
8) Don’t Use Your Phone While Watching TV
Remember when the whole family used to gather around the TV to watch a show? Today, most of us ‘watch’ tv on our phones or tablets, or we have our phones with us while watching a show. We are half tuned into the show, and half tuned into our phones. You can break this habit (and enjoy your tv show more) if you simply put your phone away while watching TV. It trains your brain to focus more and also encourages your kids to be more focused when doing a task as well.
Remember that whatever behavior you display is what you elicit from your children. It’s easy to point fingers at children who want to use phones all the time. But it’s better to look at ourselves and realize we may be to blame when setting the example they follow.
Be more conscious and present in your use of technology and you will find your children develop a healthier relationship as well.