How To Stop Being A Technology Junkie

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Around four months ago, I started tracking the time I spend on my phone each day … as I mentioned in that post, I do use my phone to listen to podcasts while I’m commuting (up to an hour each day), but the number waiting for me in the Moment app next to ‘hours’ at the end of each 24 hours was still pretty exorbitant.

Like many, I often feel like I don’t have enough time.

Between work, my blog, coaching, cooking, exercise, keeping up the house, catching up with friends … you get the picture right?

But then how is it that I can manage 2+ hours a day on my phone?

The conclusion I came to was that I used it for relaxation. When I had a spare minute, or finished a task, or finished up the day, I was scrolling all my feeds.

Again, and again, and again, throughout the day.

What was troubling me even more were the not so acceptable times I was spending time on my phone.

When I had a nice ‘quiet’ weekend planned, the time on my phone skyrocketed, when I could have been doing some of those activities I feel I have no time for.

And even more harmful was the 3am pick up of the phone when I couldn’t get back to sleep - because we all know, a screen is not going to lull you back into a deep slumber. 

So what have I been trying and what can you do to cut back on tech time too?

Replace the urge

Picking up devices has really become muscle memory for many of us.

Particularly while away on holiday in Hawaii, I noticed, even when in another country with beautiful views and plenty to see and do, I would still automatically pick up my phone.

While I was there, I made a conscious effort to only look at my phone first thing in the morning and before dinner each night. Since a lot of the holiday involved swimming and relaxing, that left me with a fair bit of spare time. And I filled that spare time with reading.

This is something I’ve carried into regular life and now usually read my book to unwind after work and before bed.

As you can imagine, I am powering through plenty more books these days and although (disclaimer) I do read ebooks on my iPad, I’m actually more relaxed when I’m reading fiction (hello escapism) or non-fiction (learning about new topics) than I am when looking into other people’s lives on social media.

What main activity could you use to replace the urge to pick up your phone?

Create a list of spare time activities

I also began to wonder - what were all those things I wanted to do that I didn’t have enough time for?

They varied from doing more yoga, to decluttering my house, to blogging, to checking in with friends over the phone.

Knowing what I want to prioritise helps me when I do find myself reaching for my phone during a quiet moment.

I’ll do a yoga or pilates video on YouTube, I’ll call a friend or I’ll clear out a drawer that’s been bugging me.

Most of these activities are less than half an hour but usually make me feel much more accomplished and fulfilled than looking up from Instagram Stories for the 10th time wondering why my Sunday afternoon is nearly over.

What are some activities under 30 minutes you could add to your spare time list?

Admit that tech is not evil

This was an interesting learning from cutting back on my time online. It is truly hard to get away from tech day to day.

Life really has surrounded us with devices and apart from a hard copy book there’s not a lot I do at home or work that doesn’t involve tech of some description.

I’m grateful for online resources like books, TV shows, workouts and podcasts, and if they don’t have negative consequences for me, I’m going to go for it.

In what ways is technology creating a positive influence in your life?

July Recap and August Intentions

I’m curious - do you guys set monthly goals or intentions? How do you track your bigger goals for the year?

I’d love to hear so let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook.

I do have bigger goals that I work on through the year, but love to have these little check ins each month to keep me focused.

July Recap

Take a break from winter

There’s no measuring the value of 30 degree weather in the middle of winter for me.

Hawaii was just what I needed - a perfect balance of hiking, snorkeling and waterfalls, alongside pool / beach days and plenty of naps and reading (see more below!).

Depending on where and what time of year speaks most to you, I highly recommend booking a holiday in advance, and don’t forget to enjoy the lead up - after all, they say the anticipation of your trip is pretty much as good as the break itself ... amazing right?

Focus on tech free time

I definitely feel like a success with this intention (at last!). I seriously reduced my technology time while I was away - only really checking social media in the morning and maybe once at night.

And the result? I managed to read six books within the first week. What?!

Even with a fairly busy schedule of sightseeing and meals out, during moments on the beach, while I was having my morning coffee, before bed, I kept picking up my book instead of my phone.

Averaging around 4-5 hours of reading a day meant I powered through my hard copy books and Kindle picks and it made me really think - what else would I have done with those hours? Probably scrolled through Instagram and refreshed my email ... scary right?

Instead I managed a good mix of self-development and fiction titles, switching off from the incessant feeds on my phone. And my top reads? Hot Milk and Loving What Is. Enjoy!

August Intentions

Stay healthy at work

After a couple of weeks off work, it was easy to fall back into the inbox/chat trap and look out at the dreary winter weather and stay inside all day long.

I want to stay healthy through August so am going to look into apps (or set my own reminders if that is overkill!) that remind me of a few things - to drink more water, to get up from my desk and to stay focused on work and not get distracted by overwhelm.

Do you guys have any app recommendations?

Complete an early spring clean

With plans to buy some new furniture and rearrange a few bits, I’m starting to cringe a little when I see piles of stuff with no home or overstuffed cupboards around my house.

I’m not sure I can face a full day declutter so might break this up into manageable tasks over a few weekends so I’m not spending my whole weekend sorting through stuff.

But like I spoke about in last week’s post, I’ll be doing this from a strong mindset - plugging in a great podcast or some music, grabbing a nice drink and getting comfy while I go through everything.

What are your plans for August? Are you feeling the need to get more intentional at work or at home? Set up a complimentary consult with me and we can chat through the next steps.

 

June Recap and July Intentions

Happy second half of 2017 lovely readers! How was your first half? What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

June (like May) felt super long to me again - when I went back and reflected, I felt like I’d worked a lot, socialised a lot and rested a lot - not a bad trifecta. So let’s recap on how I went with my June intentions and start some planning for the second half of the year.

June Recap

Enjoy quality time

I feel like I really nailed this one - I had a great trip to Sydney to catch up with some friends early in the month, then went on to one of my favourite weekends of the year - the Winery Walkabout in Rutherglen.

I have been going for at least 10 years and can only remember being washed out with rain once. Given it’s winter and super cold up there, that is a pretty amazing strike rate.

I’ll let the photo do the talking but it was so nice to catch up with friends and family and take it slow with some delicious food, coffee and, of course, Bobbie Burns Shiraz.

Do one weekend hike

Thanks for holding me accountable readers, because I finally did this one! I walk regularly, but the real intention here was to go somewhere different.

I started off researching some of the best walks in and around Melbourne and, surprisingly, many of them I have already done. This includes Dights Falls, which I did many weekends over five years when I lived right near there.

It made me realise we often take our routines for granted, and here are all the walking guides heralding the amazingness of a walk I did all the time like it was no big deal.

I didn’t venture too far, but did a great walk around Banksia Park in Heidelberg and ended with brunch at the lovely Heide Museum of Modern Art. A beautiful Saturday!

Bonus: you guys also know I’m a little obsessed with Alain de Botton so I wanted to share this passage he posted on Facebook about walking last week:

The shortest trip: On Going for a Walk around the Block

A walk is, in a sense, the smallest sort of journey we can ever undertake. It stands in relation to a typical holiday as a bonsai tree does to a forest.
But even if it is only an eight minute interlude around the block or a few moments in a nearby park, a walk is already a journey in which many of the grander themes of travel are present.
The need to go for a walk begins from the same place as the longing to take off to another country: with a desire to restart our minds. We sometimes cannot work it all out by staying rooted in one place. We have stared at the screen too long, we have been bumping into the same inner obstacles without progress, we have grown claustrophobic with ourselves.
That is why we need the sight of the three oak trees and two robins by the river or the maelstrom of the high street, where we linger outside a grocer’s shop and wonder (inconclusively, yet again) what a yam might taste like. The better part of our minds has a habit of getting exhausted and sterile. It is scared as well. Some of the most profound thoughts we need to grapple with have a potentially disturbing character. An inner censor tends to kick in and blocks the progress we were starting to make towards ideas that - though important and interesting - also presented marked threats to short-term peace.
While we walk, the mind is no longer on guard. We’re not supposed to be doing much inside our heads; we’re mainly occupied with following a path around a pond or checking out a row of shops. The ideas that have been half-forming at the back of our minds, ideas about what the true purpose of our lives might be and what we should do next, keep up their steady inward pressure - but now there is a lot less to stop them reaching full consciousness. We’re not meant to be thinking and so - at last - we can think freely and courageously.
The rhythmic motion of an easy stride helps to separate us from the ruts of our current preoccupations and allows us to wander more freely though neglected regions of our inner landscape. Themes we’d lost touch with - childhood, an odd dream we had recently, a friend we haven’t seen for years, a big task we had always told ourselves we’d undertake - float into attention. In physical terms, we’re hardly going any distance at all, but we’re crossing acres of mental territory.
A short while later, we’re back at the office or at home once again. No one has missed us, or perhaps even noticed that we’ve been out. Yet we are subtly different: a slightly more complete, more visionary, courageous and imaginative version of the person we knew how to be - before we wisely went out journeying.

July Intentions

Take a break from winter

After two almost freezing mornings this past weekend, I am feeling very excited to step away from Melbourne winter for a little while and head to Hawaii for the first time.

The combination of beaches, beautiful scenery and over the top American meals is just what I need for a mid-year break. If you guys have any recommendations, please let me know, I’d love to hear them!

Focus on tech free time (again)

In last week’s post, I talked about using Moment, which tracks the time you spend on your device. Back in May I started reducing my tech time on weekends, but I feel like I’m ready to extend this to weekdays too.

As I said in last week's post, I’m not overly concerned with the amount of time I’m on my phone but more the dependency I have - picking my phone up 20-25 times a day seems pretty excessive to me.

I’m going to use Hawaii as a reset point to start focusing on reading again and not depending on social media so much, particularly while I’m away having a break. Let’s see how we go…

Do you have any tips for reducing time on your phone?

Let me know in the comments below and have an amazing July!

May Recap and June Intentions

Although 2017 seems to be passing quickly, May actually feels like it went pretty slowly for me as I look back on the month.

I relaunched my website on the first day of May, which feels like quite a while ago now, and I wanted to pause and say a huge thank you for your support with launching my coaching business.

I have one coaching spot free in June and would love to chat to you for 30 minutes (complimentary!) about your goals for the rest of the year and see if we’re a good match. You can read about my coaching package here and contact me over here. I’d love to hear from you.

May was otherwise busy with coaching sessions and celebrating the birthdays of some of my favourite people.

Now we’re into the start of winter here in Australia, so let’s see how I did last month and how I’m going to keep warm in June...

May Recap

Have tech free time on weekends

Why do I so often forget how amazing this practice is? If I’m not mindful, my default, switch off mode is to pick up a device and browse social media for umpteen minutes and hours.

Over the last month, I’ve made sure to put my phone on the charger as soon as I go to bed so I’m not scrolling right before I sleep, and I’ve also been going device free for at least half a day on the weekends.

I’m so much happier and present when I do this.

At night I’ve been reading (see what I’ve been reading over here) and on weekends, mixing some productive errands with simply relaxing with Pickles.

Start weekend hikes

Yeah, no… this did not happen... 

Despite my best intentions, other plans or rain got in the way of my hiking dreams.

Stay tuned for June...

June Intentions

Enjoy quality time

I have two trips planned for June, one with friends and one with family - both who live in other cities.

Although that rules out much downtime on those particular weekends, I am excited to spend time with those close to me in person.

There are lots of celebrations in place and it will be a great break from everyday routine. Not a hard intention to meet!

Do one weekend hike

I’m not sure this will equate to staying warm in winter, but at least one weekend hike has got to be possible in June.

I have been walking on the river behind my house as always, but am going to plan at least one weekend day late in the month where I try out a new area. Wish me luck!

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What are your plans for June? Don’t forget to get in touch if you would like a 30 minute complimentary coaching consult to start planning out the rest of 2017.

 

April Recap and May Intentions

Ah April, such a nice month for me. In Australia we have a number of public holidays in April, which meant two four-day weekends and plenty of down time, as intended!

For those of you new to the blog - welcome!

Each month I set intentions (not goals - thanks for the word, Jess Lively!) and then recap how I went.

It keeps me accountable (thanks readers!) and upholds the goal of this blog - that perfection isn’t possible, but little improvements are.

To take a trip down memory lane, head here to read previous months’ recaps and intentions.

Now let’s review April and see what’s ahead for May.

April Recap

Smash time management

As I mentioned, time management was the topic for Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching Scholars in April and the theme of her podcast too, if you’d like to get some of her amazing content at no cost.

I did pretty well with this goal in April - I made sure I prioritised the day to day things that make me happy (exercise, meditation, spending time with family and friends) but also made time for my big goal - relaunching my website today!

I wrote out all the tasks I needed to get the website completed, estimated how long each would take, calendarised them and it worked!

If you’ve got something huge on your to do list or something you’ve been putting it off - try the same method and let me know how you go.

Embrace down time after a busy 6 months

Long weekends = mission accomplished.

Easter saw me indulging in a rare weekend of lazy brunches and lots of Netflix, while the following long weekend saw me go off the grid to the country with (gasp) no internet or phone reception. So good!

I of course realised how much I depend on my phone (and found myself searching for it out of habit a number of times on the trip, even though there was nothing I could do with it once I found it).

I also discovered that there wasn’t that much waiting for me when I got back to civilisation and my phone - no urgent messages, no hugely important social media updates that I’d missed ... which leads me to my May intentions.

May Intentions

Have tech free time on the weekends

After my long weekend offline, I’m keen to try this every weekend… but not all weekend of course - that’s way too scary!

I’m going to experiment with taking either a day, or two mornings or afternoons off my phone each weekend.

Recognising the insidious addiction many of us have to our phones doesn’t particularly stress me out, but I think it’s good to be aware and, in particular, try living in my life, rather than in my phone or the lives of others.

Which leads me to thinking about what I’m going to do with that time…

Start weekend hikes

Those who know me well know that I love to walk as much as possible. It clears my head, allows for great, relaxed conversation when I have company and is obviously pretty good for me too.

I’ve always walked the trail behind my house but have also many times over the years bookmarked links to great walks or hikes around Melbourne.

Each weekend, when time allows, I want to spend at least half a day doing a walk in a new area - and if I’m alone, I’m allowing myself to listen to podcasts on my phone, but no scrolling through social media!

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What’s your plan for May? Do you have success with tech free time? Let me know below!

 

5 Ways To Break Your Tech Addiction

Every person I speak to openly admits they are addicted to technology. Phone mostly, iPad often, Netflix more frequently.

We live in a world designed to keep us addicted - any question that pops into our mind can be immediately researched on the internet, notifications give us that little rush of dopamine we need and hours of binge watching TV series can keep us comfortably distanced from what we really want to do with our lives.

We know it ain’t good for us, so how can we begin to heal our technology addiction?

Keep a tech time log

Back in 2014 I kept a time log and discovered I was spending 2 ½ hours of my free time A DAY scrolling the internet. Terrifying right?

I’m much better now, but I’d encourage you to do the same - note down how often and for how long you’re reaching for your phone each day this week.

Don’t jump on first thing

If you start your day scrolling through feeds, checking emails and Googling, how do you think the rest of your day is going to go?

Will you feel centred, focused on your goals and productive? 

Or will you be distracted, a little scattered and focused on others’ needs all day?

I think we know the likely answer.

Try and start the day with something more useful to your development - read a book, do some meditation or light stretching, journal or go for a walk. Your phone will be there when you get back, I promise.

Schedule your scrolling

This is a tough one, I’ll admit. Our default mode when we have any spare moment (even when driving, as noted by Louis CK here) is to reach for our phones.

It’s hard to fill those in between moments with anything but our devices, but music, a useful podcast or some deep breathing will serve you better than constantly flicking through your social media apps.

After you’ve done your time log, try scheduling some time in the morning and evening for more focused use of your phone (and time).

Turn off notifications

My life would be so much worse if I hadn’t have done this years ago.

I’m still so astonished by how many people have every notification on in their phone and, more importantly, how often they look at those notifications while I’m talking to them.

Turn them off people, you can thank me later.

Use the red light at night

I’ve only started using this one in the last week or so and can’t wait to see the benefits to my sleep. Turning your phone to red light (the iPhone instructions are here) makes your brain think it’s night time and helps us fall asleep more quickly.

If you’re finding it hard to cut out bedtime phone usage all together, this could be the tip for you.

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Are you brave enough to keep a tech time log? What ideas will you implement in your life this week to break your tech addiction?

My Most Embarrassing Technology Sins

You don’t have to look far these days to find an article full of recommendations about ‘switching off’, staying present, connecting with people in real life, reading ‘real’ books, and so on, and so on.

I have no qualms admitting I’m addicted to my phone (and, let’s be serious, my iPad too).

But I still go out for dinner with friends, I still read ‘real’ books (not as much as I scroll my feeds, but hey) and I don’t own an Apple Watch.

Today, to make us all feel a little better, I thought I’d repent on everyone’s behalf —  here are my current worst technology sins, warts and all.

I check my phone before I get out of bed

Yes, it’s true. I used to avoid doing this, but these days, I can’t fight the feeling.

And the first thing I do when I wake up is feed my cats in Neko Atsume. Yes, it’s true. I love video games and I love cats so there you have it. Sin one down.

I cut my finger and suffered through the phone-holding pain

A couple of weeks back I managed to slice my finger while cooking, right in the crook of my index finger, where you apparently hold your smartphone.

Every time I held my phone it hurt — the leaning of the phone against the skin, the bending of my finger, everything really.

But do you think I stopped checking my phone? No way.

I ignore people at lunch so I can read my phone

I don’t do this every day, but if I’m having a particularly busy morning, I do like to escape to the work kitchen, eat my lunch and zone out on Instagram.

Sometimes this involves rudely ignoring a co-worker who’s trying to strike up a conversation with me.

I know that makes me a bad person, but sometimes I just need my fix.

I fall asleep to YouTube videos

In line with my zen way of waking up in the morning, over the last few weeks I’ve found myself depending on YouTube vlogs to put me to sleep.

I guess this is the same as watching TV in bed (also a no-no I’m sure) but it does feels wrong, particularly when you wake to find the iPad tipped onto your arm in the middle of the night. Whoops.

Anyway, my favourites are Vivianna Does Makeup and The Lindquists. Enjoy!

Ok, now that my shame is out in the open, tell me — what are your worst, most deplorable technology sins? Please share below!