Work concept. Diary with pen, cup of coffee and muffin on a wooden board with a coffee bean … [+]
It is everywhere.
Digital technology has engulfed us, interfered with our lives and made us doom scrolling zombies. We scroll through our social media feeds like we’re looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, but the light shines on our faces. There is no tunnel either.
I’ve been researching what tech addiction really means during the pandemic, and one of my recent discoveries is that we’re looking for something that is elusive and elusive. That is exactly what makes it so compelling. If we had even a vague idea of the ultimate goal, if we could somehow get to the bottom of the Facebook feed and mark the activity as “done”, we wouldn’t search so intensely and for hours during the day. (We ask Jaron Lanier to make this very clear.)
As I recently reported, we now spend seven hours a day consuming media online. Seven hours! That’s only three hours a day before the pandemic started.
The question is how we can deal with this constant digital tide.
I’ve found that a few simple changes made a huge difference in COVID-19. I hesitate to include these tips and tricks as it implies short-term corrective action. They are practical changes that you can make now and keep practicing even after the pandemic has ended.
1. Watch TV only at night
Full disclosure here: This is work in progress for me. As a journalist, I sometimes test products like the Roku Ultra during the day. However, my goal is not to watch TV until after sunset. Admittedly, it’s getting earlier and earlier in my area. It does mean, however, that I avoid watching the news during the day or catching up on Disney’s The Mandalorian during work hours.
2. Use a laptop only in an office
Another work in progress. What I’ve tried more and more during the pandemic is to only work in my office. That said, I’m not working on a laptop on the sofa or in the bedroom. If I have to work it means trudging down, powering up, and getting the job done. It means that I am in an environment that is designed for productivity, not leisure.
3. Stop playing video games
I am sure this is controversial. I know both Microsoft and Sony would object because they have brand new systems out there and new video games are coming out. If I’m on the computer all day anyway and still want to watch my favorite shows at night (a new discovery: Alex Rider), it doesn’t make sense for me to use digital technology more often. (I still test games for my job just to be clear.)
4. Write in a journal several times a day
I’ve kept a journal for decades, but during COVID it has become an important part of my daily routine. I now write in a diary again in the morning, during the day and at night. This is my favorite brand right now. I also recently started using a time box planner developed by Cal Newport. Working analog helped me put the phone down more, avoid my laptop, and skip the tablet.
5. Subscribe to additional magazines
Okay, I’m trying to avoid any kind of shameless plug here, but honestly, reading the physically printed version of Forbes helped a lot. I also love Smithsonian Magazine, Car and Driver, and Popular Mechanics. I plan to subscribe to even more physical magazines and cancel my Apple News + account. When an analog problem comes in in the mail, I turn off my phone and just read without distraction.
6. Broaden your horizons with unusual books
One of the lessons I learned during lockdown is that breaking habits is important. I tend to read the same types of books, but recently bought a few new novels, started reading about travel expeditions again, and even found a book on Broadway. A book about chance called “A Series of Happy Events” is also at the top of my reading list right now.
7. Press pause
A cool suggestion comes from author John Eldredge. In his book Get Your Life Back: Everyday Practices for a Crazy World, he mentions the one-minute break. It’s a way to turn off the distraction for a minute, focus on your breathing, and relieve all of your stress. No tip or trick on this one; You just sit and let your thoughts go back into the wilderness where they belong.
8. Make long journeys for no reason
My last big change has to do with driving. I tend to commute backwards where I take a ride after a long time Day without a goal. It helps that as a journalist I still test and check cars as part of my work. (Jeep Gladiator, anyone? I’m testing one.) I pick any point on the map that has winding roads and drive until I decide to turn around and come back. It actually works.