3 Guardrails for a Healthy Relationship with Technology - THINKERS Notebook

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3 Guardrails for a Healthy Relationship with Technology

One of the biggest challenges of modern life -- and it gets more urgent by the year -- is managing the role technology plays in our lives.

On the one hand, technology makes so many things more efficient, gives us instantaneous access to information, and allows us to connect with people across the globe. 

Not to mention the role new technologies play in science and medicine, which save thousands upon thousands of lives every year.

But we all understand the flip side of technology too.

  • With increased efficiency comes technological dependence.
  • Instant access to information leads to attention overload.
  • Being able to connect anytime with anyone can produce distractions that are difficult to manage.

What's the solution?

Well, neither extreme seems advisable.

Full immersion in technology and screens can prevent us from building meaning in our offline lives. It can hinder our ability to think clearly. It can warp our sense of reality and perspective.

But complete abstention is just as misguided. Unless you're going to live off the grid in a fully self-sustaining way, you will have to use technology. It's how the world operates, and the genie is not going back in the bottle.

Point being: technological growth is here to stay, and it's accelerating rapidly. Therefore, developing a healthy relationship with the technologies that drive our world is advisable. 

And while there a certain tips and hacks that you've probably seen described a hundred times (turn off notifications! don't check email first thing in the morning!), those efforts will produce short-lived success if you don't focus on higher leverage solutions too:

  • What are your values?
  • What are your priorities?
  • What are your goals?

Gaining clarity on the answers to those three questions can help you be strategic about using technology to achieve your goals in a way that respects your priorities and does not violate your values.

And so long as that's the outcome, you're probably going to be okay.

Sure, you may need a technology detox here and there. Yeah, you'll probably fall down a rabbit hole from time to time and come up for air cursing your inability to fend off distractions. And there may be times when social media depresses or annoys you more than it connects or inspires you.

But the guardrails of values, priorities, and goals will help keep you in the technology Goldilocks zone: not too much, not too little, but just the right amount.

In this week's THINKERS Roundup, you'll find three links that provide additional advice for how to maintain a healthy relationship with technology in your life.

Use technology to help you enforce your priorities.

"You don’t need to become completely inaccessible. Everyone has critical issues they must deal with and clients or bosses who sometimes want 24/7 availability. But recognizing which tasks are critical and which can be pushed until the next day is important in maintaining balance. Properly prioritizing your tasks for the day can help you find those hours to put aside for a respite from technology.”

Read: Sick of your screen? Here’s how to find a healthy balance with your workplace tech (Fast Company)

Let science guide the guardrails you set up.

"An example of such a rule, and something your GP (general practitioner) or family doctor has probably mentioned, is to avoid using gadgets or watching TV in bed or while eating. The recommendation to avoid artificial light before bed comes from studies of melatonin — an essential hormone associated with circadian rhythms and sleep in particular that is produced in response to darkness.

Read: How To Balance Tech And Everything Else In Life (Forbes)

Technology can't replace the human touch. 

"The most important result of our high-touch effort was that we were receiving increased requests for business from potential new clients, as well as gaining additional business from our current clients, all with less effort on our part. I believe businesses want to be part of, or engaged by, other businesses that can relate on a human level and produce results through positive methods."

Read: High Tech Vs. High Touch: Balancing Technology and People

Quote of the week

"Once a new technology rolls over you, if you're not part of the steamroller, you're part of the road."  

-- Stewart Brand