I’m a blogger, an Internet salesperson, and an on-call doula… as far as lifestyles go mine is fairly reliant on technology. If I’m at home I am writing posts, updating my social media accounts to drive traffic, checking out other blogs, and doing research for future posts. If I’m out an about I am checking my email to hear back about guest posts and giveaways and checking my stats to see how my day is going, at work I am connecting with people from all over the world through internet sales and emails, and at any given moment I am waiting for a phone call from a mom in labor.
Being connected through technology has become a necessity for many of us. It allows us to have incredible and fulfilling lives, impacting change and connecting with people across the globe. Unfortunately, while we are doing that we are often disconnecting from the people under our own roof and ignoring our own need to relax and re-center.
I cannot tell you how many times how many times I have tried to have a conversation with my husband while his face is buried in his email inbox or how many times he has been telling me about his day as I work on coding some new feature on my blog. Where is our real focus in those moments? Is it where it should be?
For years I racked up sleepless night after sleepless night due to an email I had seen just minutes before turning out the light, leaving my groggy and grumpy the next day. Was it worth that one last in-box check?
Finally, when my life had become so consumed by stress that I was having anxiety attacks and my health was suffering I decided I had to make some changes. One change was to set some boundaries surrounding my use of technology. Here are 4 tricks I used to set boundaries with technology:
Turn off the push notifications: I love my smart phone because it gives me the freedom to access information and connect with others whenever I want. Unfortunately, my phone is not smart enough to know when I want to be connected and when I don’t. Turning off those email notifications, Facebook notifications and Twitter notifications, puts the freedom back in your hands. If it is something that needs to be handled immediately, like a mom in labor, it gets handled via phone call or text message and I know about it. All of that other stuff can wait until I am ready. It is also wonderful to not have to hear the constant buzzing or dinging of new notifications 24 hours a day.
If you are too tired to handle it, don’t find out about it: This was a big one for me. If you are too tired or too stressed out to handle a new crisis, don’t check your email! Go to bed! Sure, maybe a crisis isn’t waiting for you, but if it is you’ll be able to handle it better after some sleep. Plus, if it was a real crisis you can be reached via phone call and text right? Don’t check your email.
Utilize Your Do Not Disturb Mode: Many smart phones have this feature, it allows you to keep your phone on, use your alarm, and even be reached by phone call or texts from certain people while simultaneously allowing you to silence everything else during a time period of your choosing. When I am not on call for a birth, my phone automatically stops notifying me of text messages and alerts between 10pm and 6am.
Don’t let your technology interrupt your family time: Yes, some days you just want to get that email answered and mark it off your to do list, but your husband walks in the door before you get to finish the last sentence or your kid decides to take that moment to talk to you about their day at school… in that moment, remind yourself what matters. That email will still be there waiting to be sent after dinner, that chance for you to show your spouse or your children that you care, it lasts one second. One second before they see you look frustrated, brush them off, or not look up from your screen. The more we remind ourselves of that the easier it will be o keep our priorities in check!
Samantha is the author of the blog Sweet Potatoes and Social Change. She writes about apartment homesteading, simple living and healing her autoimmune condition through diet and lifestyle. Outside of writing she is also a wife and a childbirth doula.