There’s an interesting post on MakeUseOf about blending technology with lifestyle to better effect. As part of this they give ten suggestions for slowing things down and improving the general quality of life. It’s a really helpful list, for interest I’ve reproduced it below and also added some personal comments and my own scores (out of 5):
1. Don’t check your work email after 5:00 pm, or whenever you workday ends (freelancers, this includes you).
Me: 2/5. I have a very good friend who did this religiously for quite a few years (6 pm actually, I was incredibly impressed). However she got promoted to a very senior position and now looks all the time, including holidays!
2. Specify one day a week that will be screen free, at least between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm or so (the screen on the back of your camera could be an exception).
Me: 0/5. I’ve often thought about the time I spend looking at one or another screens, it’s a lot. A day a week sounds extreme to me (at least to start with), a half day might possibly be manageable?
3. Delete social media apps from your phone, and make an effort to be social with people you don’t know during the times you’d usually check your feeds.
Me: 4/5. I have my mobile pretty much under control. In addition, I find it easy and enjoyable to interact with new people.
4. Take time every day to go for a walk to get some fresh air and look at the world around you. You might be surprised at what you see when you take your eyes off of your phone and your mind off your to-do list!
Me: 2/5. I’m lucky enough to live right next to a quite wonderful nature reserve – I have no reason not to take a quick daily wander except laziness and a lack of discipline. The odd thing is, as soon as I’m out of the house and in the fresh air, it seems the totally right place to be, and I wonder what was holding me back!
5. Practice mindful browsing.
Me: 3/5. This is definitely a good one and I’ve recently started this. Instead of getting sucked into an effectively infinite sea of fascinating facts, info and opinions, take a breath and think why you’re doing this. Sometimes it’s through genuine interest and is really worthwhile, sometimes it’s straightforward procrastination. It’s helpful to be honest with yourself and figure out which one it is. Bear in mind Point 4!
6. Read a book for entertainment — not the latest about Agile programming or entrepreneurship, but a novel or non-fiction book about something that you enjoy or are curious about.
Me 4/5. I read quite a lot of fiction but usually in bed. I’ve often thought of reading instead of watching the TV but have found this quite hard, maybe it’s the total silence or something. Most likely it’s just habit. Being a member of a book club helps!
7. Use a Pomodoro timer to remind yourself to take breaks throughout the day and take your eyes off of your computer, tablet, and phone.
Me 2/5. I actually do this, but erratically. I’m trying to get into the habit of doing something physical in the break e.g. have a look at the garden (I work at home mostly), do a bit of (much needed) tidying up etc. I’ve found there’s a big difference between taking a break whilst sitting down and getting up and moving around (even for short periods).
8. Turn off push notifications for email and social media, and only check them when you intend to spend time reading and responding to things.
Me 3/5. I’m not too bad at this. This may be a reaction to when I worked full time, and was deluged with emails, calls etc and vowed not to get into this position again. Life’s too short and all that…
9. Craft an information diet that works for you.
Me 3/5. I’m actually working on this anyway. Basically, I need to discard as much as possible and slowly and selectively build up and then repeat this, say annually. I have over 150 news feeds, more than 200 apps…they easily build up over the years and they all take a bit of your attention – it’s quite seductive.
10. Declare all social situations (parties, bars, dinners, and so on) to be phone-free, with exceptions only for emergencies.
Me 5/5. I’m very good at this, as when I’m in a social situation I want to be totally and not partially involved in it. I never answer the phone or even look at emails. If you’re on the receiving end, it’s also pretty annoying. It’s like someone saying ‘Hold on, there might be something more interesting than talking to you at the moment, let me check it out…’ or, more cynically, ‘You may not think I’m that interesting, but I’m actually in demand!’.