Digital Balance

Technology has changed our lives drastically. We can have long distance video calls at no additional cost, read news instantly as it happens across the world, watch videos made by people living thousands of miles away, do instant banking, collaborate with people all over the people and so much more. However, technology has also overtaken our lives.

Research shows that our screens and devices are making us less social, less productive, less present, and even less happy. 50% of the time we pick up our phone, there are no calls or notifications, and we don’t really need to look at it. Devices can become a major time drain and negatively impact well-being.

Digital balance is all about finding that sweet spot, between being addicted to technology and stopping it completely, where technology is working for us but not controlling us. Some of the ways we can achieve digital balance are;

  • Identify Your Usage Patterns: Be mindful of how much time you spend on different devices and apps. This is easy to do - phones track screen time now. Being aware of the figures can be eye opening, with most people spending far more time on the devices than they think they are. 
  • Set Limits : Establish specific times for checking devices and stick to them. Consider designated device-free zones, like bedrooms or dinner tables. The blue light from the phones disrupts the circadian rhythm. There is lot of research that shows that endless scrolling, be it videos, the news, or your emails, disrupt the quality of sleep. It is important to keep the phone away for couple of hours before we sleep and not look at in the middle if the night when we wake up. One way to reduce addiction is to set the phone to greyscale mode. When we remove the colours, we are less fascinated with the endless scrolling. However we can still read our emails, our news and our messages. It doesn’t affect productiveness but controls the endless scrolling. 
  • Hiding Your Phone : Moving the phone from our line of sight – keeping it behind the laptop, inside a bag, anywhere just away from our eyesight, reduces the usage. This is especially useful when we are working or having a coffee with a friend. It helps focus on the task and the person and give them out undivided attention. 
  • Prioritise Screen-Free Activities: There are so many activities that we have done for years but now we seem to have lost touch with. We can read, take a walk, or socialise in person. When we are spending time with children, we can play board games, or games outside. We can make art, music or cook. Even just sitting still and enjoying a sunset can be satisfying.
  • Utilize Tech Tools: Ironic as it may seem, there are ways to use technology to distance ourselves from technology. There are apps and settings that can help you limit screen time by blocking distracting websites, or scheduling device-free breaks. 
  • Screen Free Mornings: Most of us look at the phone the minute we wake up. According to research, the average number of notifications per day is 323. When we wake up there is a bunch of things we need to attend to. Rather not give in to the tyranny of the urgent, you can give yourself a little head space where you control the course of the day. Looking at an urgent list of things to attend to increase your cortisol level right in the morning which is not healthy. 
  • Avoid Screen Fatigue: Since most of our works are in front of a screen, screen fatigue is rampant. Screen fatigue refers to the eye strain, postural pain, and fatigue, that happens because of overuse of screens. One way to deal with screen fatigue is to take breaks – go for a short walk, talk to a colleague if you are in the office, fold up the laundry if you are working from home. Having that break is essential to prevent physical and mental breakdowns. 

By developing a more mindful approach to technology use, readers can achieve a better digital balance and free up time and mental space to focus on activities that truly enhance their happiness and well-being.

Article inspired by the podcast episode "Tame Those Devices: 10 Tips to Achieve Digital Balance" from The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos 

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