Technology is a useful and important part of our lives, but it can also be a source of mental clutter and poor time management. We live in an age where we are expected to be available at all times to respond to a work email, a text from a friend, or a comment on social media. If we are not careful, technology can begin to consume our thoughts and cut into other more important things like family time or bed time.
There is nothing inherently wrong with technology. I love the simplicity of sending a text versus making a phone call when I have something I need to tell someone or a quick question that needs answering. I also love that social media has allowed us to keep in touch with people we might not otherwise see or hear from as often as we would like.
We live in a small town three hours away from our closest relative, so we use Facebook, text, and Facetime calls to stay in contact with each other between visits. Technology is such a helpful tool for keeping friends and families connected even though they may not live near one another.
I recently saw an old family friend who I had not seen in more than 12 years. She thought for sure I would not remember her, but to me, it felt as if not much time had passed since I had last seen her. Why? Because we are friends on Facebook, and I read her posts nearly every day. I not only remembered her, I felt like I knew her.
Social media is here to stay. It is an invaluable tool that is helpful in so many ways; however, it can also be a huge time waster and mental drain. Having our smartphones available to us at all times may help us stay in contact with those who live at a distance, but it can also keep us from connecting with those who are right in front of us.
Husbands and wives sit next to each other on the couch scrolling through social media instead of talking to each other about the highs and lows of their day. Parents miss out on valuable time spent with their kids because they are glued to their phones.
Social media is the perfect boredom buster, but it can easily become all-consuming. I cannot tell you how many times I have stayed up too late mindlessly scrolling through my feed, taking in nothing of value, only to oversleep the next morning and run behind schedule for the rest of the day.
Social media can also cause you to get caught in the trap of comparison, looking at all of the perfect pictures other people post only to begin feeling bad about the state of your own life. We have to remember that people only post their best on social media, and we do not always know what is going on behind the scenes.
During the first three weeks of the Simplify Your Summer Challenge, we laid a good foundation for simplified, intentional living by identifying our priorities, tackling our to-do lists, and establishing good routines to maximize productivity.
Now it is time to begin working through the things in our lives that are necessary, but probably taking up too much of our time. I chose to start with a digital cleanse because technology is often cited as one of the top time wasters. I know I am guilty of picking up my phone when I am in need of a distraction.
In week four of the Simplify Your Summer Challenge, we are going to focus on reducing the amount of time spent on technology and increasing time spent on things that matter to you like quality time with your family or making time to chase after that dream that lives in your heart.
The number one way to reduce the time you spend using technology is to set limits. This is both the easiest and the hardest part of this process because it is super simple, yet requires a lot of willpower.
- Vow not to check your email or social media before a certain time in the morning
- Put your phone away until a certain time each night
- Set a timer when you are on social media and sign off when your time is up
- Turn off all notifications on your phone to keep you free from distraction
- Keep your phone tucked away while you are spending time with friends or family
CLEAN OUT YOUR INBOX
Are you one of those people who gets hundreds of emails a day, never having enough time to respond? If email is a huge time suck for you, it is time to instill some boundaries to keep you in check.
- Do not check email until 8 a.m.
- Use the Inbox Zero method
- Delete all old emails that are no longer relevant
- Unsubscribe to any email lists that do not add value to your life
- Unsubscribe to all retail emails lists
TURN OFF THE TV
It is so easy to turn on the television and zone out at the end of the day. It is one thing to watch a specific show or movie together as a family in the evening, but turning on the cartoons or the news so you can zone out and disconnect is quite another. Do something fun and interactive together instead.
- Eat dinner as a family
- Play a board game
- Go for a walk outside
- Read aloud to your kids
- Play a game of catch
GO THROUGH YOUR PHOTOS
How many pictures do you have stored on your phone? Too many to count, I’m sure. If you use your phone as your main camera, you may have even reached the storage limit on your phone keeping you from taking any more photos. It is important to take notice, so you don’t lose any of your precious memories.
- Transfer all of your photos from your phone to a computer.
- Go through all photos and delete the ones you no longer need or want
- Back your photos up to an external hard drive
- Store copies of your photos online with a cloud storage service
- Sort your photos into albums by year and consider printing a digital photo album for each year
Social media can be a huge time waster. It can also cause you to fall into the evil trap of comparison. Comparing your reality to someone else’s highlight reel can lead you down a path of resentment and discontent, which is neither healthy nor productive.
- Unfollow all accounts that leave you feeling uninspired
- Unfollow all accounts that spread negativity
- Unfollow all accounts that do not align with your values
- Unfollow all accounts that make you feel unworthy
- Unfollow all accounts that make you feel as though you are not enough
This challenge may prove to be difficult at first, but I think you will find it to be worth it in the end. Leave your questions, feedback, and encouraging words in the comments below.
To continue on the Simplify Your Summer Challenge, be sure to check back each week. I will post a new segment of the challenge every Monday. If you want to be notified when each post goes live, sign up for e-mail notifications in the sidebar of this site or scroll to the bottom if you are on a mobile device.
If you are just joining us and want to start from the beginning, START HERE.
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