How many times a day do you check your phone? Ten times? Fifty? In today’s “always on” world, we are constantly bombarded by sounds and sights; many of which come from the devices that we choose to carry.
When we talk about being “lost” without our phones, we aren’t usually referring to life without Google maps. Far too often, our phones are distraction devices that allow us to ignore the voices in our heads and the feelings in our hearts. We have forgotten how to be by ourselves, without diversions.
After all, one of the reasons that I started Sixty and Me was to give older women the tools to build meaningful friendships. But, it can also be a dangerous obsession that prevents us from truly connecting with friends, family and the world around us.
Our devices are designed to connect us to people, places and events. Far too often, they do the opposite. How much time do you spend every day checking Facebook, taking pictures, or reading email, instead of listening – really listening – to the people around you?
There are several ways to loosen the grip that technology has on your life. Probably the most obvious is simply to schedule some time every day to turn everything off.
Most young people today would find it hard to imagine life without the Internet. But, we baby boomers do remember – sometimes with fond memories – a time when the world was less connected. Even a 30 minute break from technology can help our minds to reset. So, why not schedule some time, every day, to turn off your phone and other devices and enjoy the world around you without distractions?
What can you do during this technology-free time? You could work on a project, read a book or practice your favorite hobby. You might consider taking a walk or exercising with a friend. Or, perhaps you could visit a friend or family member in person instead of giving them a call.
During your 30 minute technology fast, try to eliminate electronic devices completely. Write letters instead of emails. Visit friends rather than calling them. What will you do during this time?
Creating time away from technology every day is a great idea for most people. But, why not go a step further? Instead of scheduling time away from technology, why not limit your use of certain technologies to certain times of the day?
For example, you might make a commitment to only check your email once in the morning and once in the evening. Or, you might turn off the automatic email notifications on your phone so that you are not tempted to react to every distracting buzz. Your phone should be a communication tool, not an interruption device.
Finally, another way to limit the role that technology plays in your life is to fill your days with worthwhile activities. Embrace experiences that require you to engage with the world in tangible ways. Sign up for a yoga class. Join a poker club. Find a local book discussion group. When you look up from your phone and towards the world, you will see that we are living in amazing times.
There has never been a better time to be over 60.
When we limit the distractions in our lives, our eyes will open to the power and wonder of the world around us. We will see the opportunities in our lives more clearly and we will have more time to embrace the experiences that come our way.
Schedule 15 minutes today to turn off all of the gadgets in your house. Pay attention to how you feel when the noise stops. Do you feel anxious? If so, what does this say about your relationship with technology?
Do you feel like you have a healthy relationship with the all of the technology in your life? How do you find time away from technology to recharge? Please join the conversation.