Most people couldn’t go a business day without their technology and social media sites, myself included, but building strong interpersonal relationships with one-to-one communication is just as important, if not more. “Netiquette” is a popular topic these days, and for good reason (my friend and colleague Thomas Farley, a.k.a. “Mister Manners,” was just featured in this NYT article on modern manners). Do you know when to “step away” from your technology? If friends and family members are negatively commenting on your rude technology manners, it’s time for some much needed self-reflection. As Sam Fiorella recently shared on Huffington Post Tech, social media costs us time, emotion and privacy. Make no mistake, I am not suggesting we “Unplug” indefinitely, but make some adjustments when appropriate.
Do You Have a Smartphone Addiction?
- Do you feel under-dressed when you are not carrying your smartphone, or, do you break out in a sweat if you forget your technology at home?
- Do you consistently check, double check, and re-check your smartphone to see if you’ve missed a text, call or email?
- Do you sleep with your phone near or under your pillow, checking it before you get out of bed, or when you wake up in the middle of the night?
- Do you lunge for your smartphone whenever you hear a “ding,” or faintly hear the vibrate tone, perhaps even interrupting your safe driving?
- Is your smartphone part of your place setting (situated to the left or right of your utensils on the table), making it impossible to carry on a full conversation without glancing over at your phone?
- Do you tend to “touch” your cell phone to move it out of sleep mode to make sure it still has “life?”
The following are a few of my tips for curbing your technology and social media appetite:
- Set aside designated technology-free time in your day. Separating yourself from technology by “Going Unplugged,” if even for only a few hours in the evening or (gasp) a long, luxurious weekend, will leave you feeling refreshed and with a new perspective. You may notice that I rarely tweet on the weekends or late in the evening; making a conscious effort to reserve that time for myself and my family. It’s a dedicated effort to give my full attention to the life in front of me, and at times it’s not that easy!
- Take advantage of social media scheduling services. If you need to maintain a weekend and evening presence for your business, consider using a social media service like Hootsuite to schedule and send out updates, responding only when needed.
- Create a new routine. If the first and last thing you do each day is check your phone, it’s going to take time and dedication to break that habit. Be intentional with your time and create new patterns that will eventually lead to a habit. For example, instead of reaching for the phone as soon as you open your eyes, spend a few moments in quiet reflection. Perhaps your new routine will include spending the first 10 minutes of your day enjoying a cup of coffee on your back porch, technology free. “Going Unplugged” at the dinner table is another healthy habit I strongly encourage you to include into your lifestyle. Your new routine may also permit designated times in the day to check social media sites.
- Ask friends and family members to hold you accountable. You’ll be more likely to succeed in your efforts to step away from social media in the evenings if you share your plans with friends and family. Sometimes a gentle reminder makes a big difference in our willpower.
If this blog post resonated with you, you may be interested in joining @GoUnplugged, an initiative that my cofounder, Thomas Farley (a.k.a. “Mister Manners”) and I launched last year. See www.gounplugged.org for details.
Wishing you a technology balanced life – that I’m still working on myself.