For many people who are struggling to lead happier, more fulfilling lives, there is one issue which comes up time and again – their use of, or inability to effectively manage, technology. Technology, like nearly everything else in life, has pros and cons. While there are studies which show that using social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook can actually make a person happier; however, other studies show that people tend to use these sites to compare themselves to other people, which detracts from their overall level of happiness. As with anything, the key to managing technology is moderation, and appropriate usage.
Some people feel as though they are distracted by technology. They have difficulty completing tasks because their attention is divided between so many different things. Others feel as though they can never completely relax, because with the ubiquitous nature of email and instant message, they can be reached by anyone, at any time. Their coworkers can email them any day of the week, and expect a response within hours, if not within minutes.
Fortunately, there are some techniques which help people learn how to unplug from technology, and reclaim their lives. One way to do this is to schedule some time each day where technology, or a certain aspect of it, is avoided. For example, someone might decide that they are not going to look at email, or surf the Web, between 6pm and 9pm. They might choose to dedicate that time to another activity, such as family time, or simply find other things to do which do not involve one of those actions. Regardless, it is a way of taking more control over your use of technology, and learning that you can, in fact, live without it, by stepping away for a period of time. Conversely, other people block out a period of time when they can use email, the Internet, or social networking sites, and refrain from doing so during the rest of the day.
Other people will look at their email or social networking sites at any time, but refuse to reply during certain hours. This is particularly helpful if you have coworkers who look for responses to emails on the weekends; some people will read their email all weekend, but not actually send any replies until Monday morning. This sends a clear message (no pun intended) that you will not be reachable for business matters on the weekends, but prevents you from feeling like you are out of the loop, or having a huge pile of mail to sort through on Monday morning.
Ironically, there are some ways that you can use technology to master your addiction to technology. For example, Apple has a program, Freedom, which prevents the user from getting onto the Internet. Initially, this may sound like a terrible idea, but when you think about it, there are times when you need to get work done, which doesn’t require Internet use, and the Internet is only there as a distraction. In this instance, Freedom allows users to focus on the task at hand by completely removing the temptation to surf the Web. Once their tasks are complete, users can access the Web again by simply rebooting their computer. If you don’t need that level of control, you can also try setting simple rules for yourself, like saying that you will not use the computer when you are spending time with your children. Taking small steps to prove to yourself that you are not completely dependent upon technology will, over time, decrease your reliance on it, and increase your awareness of other important aspects of your life.
~Contributed by IHPro