It’s midnight on a work night and your blue-light emitting night light gleams into your eyes as you scroll through your various social media feeds one tiny dopamine hit at a time

Today’s technology design goals are very similar to those of a slot machine: to exponentially increase your “Time on Device” with every swipe, scroll, and meme.  There is a lot of power behind this technology. Although we have ultimate control over our devices, sometimes it seems that they actually have more power over us!

Making meaningful changes in our lives can be difficult, but getting a more intimate look at our experiences can uncover the underlying factors that contribute to our own mindless use of technology. Here are a few tips to help you become more aware and intentional with your technology use. Who knows, it may even cause you to make some changes!

Recognize how aware you are already.  We are actually very aware as it is, we just need to consciously see that before it gets swept up in the next moment requiring our attention. Even if you try to recognize one time each day that you’re aware of the present moment, that helps build momentum for doing it again in the future. Being more present means we are more likely to use our technology (i.e. social media) with intention, rather than mindlessly scrolling through the highlight reels of Instagram. One small place to start is making note of each time you get up from your desk and taking a deep breath or a small stretch at that moment.

Don’t take pictures, take note.  Quit doin’ it for the ‘gram.  We’re all accomplices in the crime of thinking that everyone cares about what we’re doing all the time. The phrase ‘Take a picture, it’ll last longer’ no longer applies because we don’t value the experience that is happening behind the photo as much as we do capturing it to store it in the cloud.   Next time you’re thinking about taking a photo, take some time to note why you’re taking the photo. See if you can connect to the experience in a different way that would make more of a lasting impact on yourself. 

Challenge yourself to go a day without your phone.  Yeah I said it.  And yes, the mere thought of being without your phone for a whole day might cause your whole body to tense up.  Do it on a weekend when you have already made plans and won’t need to contact anyone for the remainder of the day. This experiment was made for Brunching. If you’re able to do this for just one day (from first wake to bedtime), I guarantee it will give you a whole new perspective on you and your friends’ use of technology.  I’ve done it many times with the help of Brick Mode (think an AIM away message for your phone), and am always shocked at the content of my texts when I come back to my phone.  They’re always so trivial in the grand scheme of things. Plus I was able to get more out of my experience that day and be more present to those around me.   It’s a win-win! 

Go absolutely bonkers.  Get rid of all of your addicting social media apps.  Turn off all notifications. Turn your phone grey-scale.  Move to a remote island and brew kombucha for your fellow island mates (OK, maybe not that bonkers).  

But seriously, start by taking stock of how much technology you use on a day-to-day basis. Check out the Screen Time (iPhone) and Digital Well-Being (Android) native apps to help you get a clearer picture of your use, and then set a small goal around decreasing your use or insuring your use is intentional.

Nick Zolfo, Wellness Consultant

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