How to navigate technology and create space in your life.
By Sam Cannell, Certified Holistic Health Coach,
Let’s be honest technology these days is pretty damn amazing! Or is it? You see as much as I love technology I can also loathe it, it seems to be stealing our precious time and our constant need for ‘connection’ is actually resulting in us missing out on true connection on a personal level. Just a couple of years ago I used to be very switched on with technology especially email and Facebook, I’d check my emails the minute I hopped out of bed and check Facebook on my phone while eating breakfast. I juggle 3 different email accounts for personal and business and had notifications going off left, right and centre regardless of what I was doing or who else I was with. Then there was Twitter and Instagram as well! The result… I felt frazzled. I was constantly interrupted and very unproductive! And the constant ‘dinging’ of notifications got in the way of enjoying catch ups with friends or playing with the kids. Yep, my FOMO (short for ‘Fear of Missing Out’) meant I was actually missing out on enjoying the present moment with the people that really mattered. On a work level I was missing out on being as productive as I could be which meant I was working much longer hours on my business than I needed to be.
Before sharing my tips for ‘switching off’ (don’t worry you don’t have to switch off completely!) it’s important to understand that you are the one in control, not your phone, not your email, not your friends, not your clients – YOU are in control of your time and how you use it! We all have 24 hours in a day, that’s a given and more often than not we feel like we are juggling fifty balls in the air at any one time. What if we could remove some of those balls and focus on two or three? Or even better just one at a time…
Have you ever been out for dinner and everyone has their iPhones out checking messages, updating their Facebook status and taking food photos for Instagram? It’s all fun and games at the time but how was the conversation that night? What did the food really taste like and did you even notice that one of your closest friends seemed a little down? It’s easy to miss the present moment when you are hooked on being connected online. Don’t worry, many of us have been there – the key is to accept that this behaviour is in the past, learn from those experiences and sort out this FOMO once and for all!
Here are my top tips for getting on top of your FOMO:
Ditch the phone from the bedroom, buy an old fashioned alarm clock and use it! Do you really want to start your day reading about a Facebook friend’s drunken antics the night before? Also leave your phone out of the bedroom in the evening, the end of the day is for winding down not for playing Candy Crush.
Give yourself space to wake up and breathe, eat breakfast and get ready for your day without touching technology. In the evening give yourself at least an hour technology free before bed (I’ll excuse a Kindle because reading is a great way to spend an evening).
Turn ALL of the notifications on your smartphone off. Yes, every single one of them! Sounds, pop ups and banners are the worst for interrupting the present moment. But what if I miss something I hear you say? I have a theory on this… you will see what you need to see when you are meant to see it, once you have technology in the right alignment for you it all falls into place!
Get savvy with emails, if you have a business and need to check emails do it at scheduled times 2-3 times a day and set up a work flow for responding. Auto-responders can also be fantastic for setting expectations, if you’ll respond within 24 hours say so, then the sender knows when to expect a response. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking everyone needs a response straight away, you are in control of setting the expectation of when you’ll respond, if you always respond within 2 minutes guess what people will expect? If you only need to use email on a personal basis then don’t worry about checking it more than once a day… if the world is about to end someone will pick up the phone!
Don’t get caught up in email chains of politeness or idle chit chat, be kind and get to the point but stop responding when it’s no longer necessary. Turn off your email notifications on your phone and set incoming messages to ‘fetch’ rather than ‘push’. This means you are in control of when you see the emails.
Use email rules to file certain types of emails… do you sign up for a million newsletters and never read them? Unsubscribing is the best option if you don’t read them but if you want to check them from time to time set up automatic rules where emails goto particular folders and check them weekly or every few days. For example I have a ‘Wellness Blogs’ folder and an ‘Online shopping’ folder with rules based on the sender to sort through the subscription emails that can clog your inbox.
Facebook lists are your friend, set up lists for your closest friends, family and pages you follow. Limit yourself to checking Facebook twice a day and be in control of how long you will spend on it. Goto your favourite lists, have a chat with some friends, check in to your favourite groups to see what’s happening then close that window down and don’t go back until your next scheduled time. It may sound harsh but you are freeing yourself of interruption and you’ll start to feel lighter pretty quickly.
If you run a Facebook business page use scheduled posts to update your page regularly and check your page twice daily for notifications/messages. It’s great to have interaction with your customers on Facebook but if you are constantly on Facebook running your business you won’t end up getting any real work done and then your business probably won’t be earning you the $$ it could be.
Don’t worry about who likes or comments on your photos or updates and stop checking back to see if anyone does! I know a few people who get upset (yes really) if certain friends don’t respond to their updates. This isn’t healthy or good for your self esteem, if you feel like this please stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Consider having a complete break from social media for a week if you get to this point, it’s a good sign that enough is enough and you need a break.
Love taking photos for Instagram? Me too, but that doesn’t mean I have to upload them to Insta the minute I take the pics. Take the picture and upload it to Instagram later when you aren’t with your beautiful friends having a fun time together.
Do you love blogs? Use an application like BlogLovin to list your blogs and check it once a day or every couple of days, it is easy to get lost in blog-land for hours so you need to set yourself time limits if you’re prone to this!
Learn how to say no! Have you ever accepted an invitation to an event when you really didn’t want to go? Did you leave it to the last minute to cancel? It’s much kinder to say ‘no’ at the outset than cancel at the last minute. It takes a lot of courage to say no, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person – it means you know your boundaries and are happy to give yourself some space when you need it. As Marie Forleo says ‘get on the no train’ – when you have a huge deadline to meet or feel overwhelmed and need some space in your life it’s okay to say ‘no’! You are not saying ‘no I will never do that’ or ‘no I will never see you again’… it just isn’t the right time for you right now.
Tell your friends you are making changes, if you live your life on Facebook tell your friends if they want to reach you urgently or chat that it’s best to call or text you.
Want to take it a step further? Recently when I had a big deadline I left my iPhone on ‘do not disturb mode’ for a whole week! I added my family and closest friends (and the kids school just in case there was an accident) to my favourites list so their calls would come through but everyone else went straight to voicemail. Did I feel like I was missing out? Heck no… all those annoying telemarketing calls stopped (they don’t leave messages!) and it was my most productive week ever and I now quite often put my phone in this mode!
Want to take it even further? Delete Facebook, Twitter and Email apps from your smartphone, pick up the phone when you want to chat to a friend rather than sending a Facebook messages or texting – they’ll probably get a lovely surprise to hear your voice.
If you have children set a good example and limit your use of technology around them, they learn SO much from your actions. Your positive and healthy technology habits will also set them up for good habits in the future.
How is your FOMO now you’ve read this post?
Here is a little affirmation to help you get started (say this out loud to yourself):