Most people with a smartphone could write “excellent multitasker” on their resumes, based on the simple fact that we’re constantly juggling events, friends, and things to do in our real lives while maintaining a, shall we say, extensive digital presence on social media, email, and the internet in general.
While technology isn’t good or bad, it does matter how you balance it with everything else going on in your life.
That’s especially true in a tech-centered town like Austin, so here are a few tips on how to make the best use of technology without succumbing to it. If you prefer to jump right in and speak with an expert about balancing your tech use, download Medici (which falls under the “beneficial use of technology” category, we promise) to speak directly with Dr. Pam Rutledge and a variety of other notable providers who are available for consultations on the app.
Recognize technology’s purpose in your life
Are you logging into Facebook 10 times a day as a distraction, or are you using it as a source of relaxation or entertainment, or for positive emotions?
Your answer to that is key, says Dr. Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center and a faculty member at Fielding Graduate University. It's important to acknowledge that a few minutes of relaxation doesn’t turn into an hour and interfere with other things you need to be doing.
How many times have you forgotten to put your clothes in the dryer because you were binge-watching the sixth season of Game of Thrones?
Rutledge recommends keeping a log of your tech-related behavior for about a week, including the weekend. When consuming various forms of media, note when, why, how long, and how it made you feel.
“Once you’ve identified when you are using technology mindlessly and as a habitual default — rather than purposefully — and compared it to the goals you’ve set, you can begin to make choices about the most productive and beneficial ways to use your time,” she says. “If you find you’re using your free time on technology for no purpose, begin to set time limits. Just recognize that it’s the intention and mindfulness of the activity.”
All businesses — especially tech companies — need to recognize that for people to work at peak productivity, they have to be rested and have time to reset their brains and bodies.
“If people spend their days sitting at computers, encouraging them to get up and move every hour will help them stay refreshed and healthier,” Rutledge says. “Giving employees permission to leave work on their mobile devices when they physically leave is an important step in establishing boundaries that allow people to rest without feeling like they need to be in constant touch or respond instantly to every email.”
Employers should examine how their employees use technology and encourage healthy habits so that sitting and repetitive motions don’t create new problems.
The tech effect on your brain and body
For those — and there are many in Austin — whose jobs are tech-based, remember that working 24/7 is never good for you, tech or no tech.
“The result is less ability to deal with multiple sources of information and increases the desire to withdraw,” she says. “When you feel that tendency, take a break, step outside, switch activities, and refocus your efforts by choosing how you want to spend your time. Stressed brains think less clearly, are less innovative and creative, and the stress response makes you tired. This is true of any overload, not just technology.”
Luckily, Austin offers plenty of activities that don’t require an iPhone. Head to the Greenbelt for an afternoon swim with your four-legged friend. Go to a show or a food truck park, go camping, or walk around South Congress for a bit. You have plenty of options. This is Austin, after all.
Remember to download Medici on the App Store or Google Play to keep professional care at your fingertips. If you have a free consultation with one of the providers on Medici from March 10 to March 16 and use the code CULTUREMAP, you’ll be entered to win $200. After March 16, invite all of your doctors (and even your vet) to use Medici and virtually consult anytime with your own providers!