Establishing Healthy Technology Use Habits as Adults

5 minutes Written by Dr. Jeffrey Gagliardi

As challenging as technology use can be for children to navigate, it also poses unique challenges for adults. How many of us now receive work emails and messages on our personal devices at all hours?

We may have to use various social media platforms for work functions, only to be sucked into a dizzying array of entertaining distractions. We may want to limit how many distracting activities we engage in our devices, but the pull of work makes that disengagement challenging. So what do we do? How do we reduce our technology use when so much of our work relies upon it?

Here are some useful tactics to help us maintain a healthier relationship with our technology use.

1. Boundaries: The first step in managing technology’s grip on our lives is setting clear boundaries. Designate specific times for checking work emails and messages. Consider turning off notifications outside those hours to avoid the constant urge to check.

Communicate these boundaries with colleagues and supervisors to manage expectations and foster a healthier work-life balance. Additionally, leverage screen time settings to restrict access to applications you prefer not to engage with during specific intervals.

2. Prioritize Tasks: The ever-present influx of emails, messages, and alerts can make it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. To combat this, adopt a prioritization strategy. Begin your day by identifying the most critical tasks and allocating dedicated time blocks to tackle them without interruptions.

Focusing on essential tasks first can mitigate the sense of urgency created by constant connectivity.

We were often taught the importance of multitasking, and our devices make it even easier to do so. However, studies show that multitasking drastically decreases efficiency, and we must be vigilant to create periods of deep focus where we can work at peak effectiveness.

3. Unplug and Recharge: Just as smartphones and laptops require recharging, so do our minds. Our brains become accustomed to the constant flow of instantly gratifying activities on our devices.

The consistent release of dopamine from these activities creates a scenario wherein less immediately gratifying tasks seem even more formidable to engage with. This phenomenon underscores the importance of deliberately disengaging.

Use these moments to engage in activities that nourish your well-being, such as walking, meditating, reading a book, or simply spending quality time with loved ones. Unplugging provides a mental reset and allows our brains to return to a place where they need less stimulation to feel satisfied.

4. Streamline Communication: The multitude of communication platforms can be overwhelming. Aim to consolidate your communication channels, both for personal and professional use. Instead of spreading yourself thin across various apps, identify a select few that meet your needs efficiently. This reduces digital clutter and simplifies your interactions, making it easier to manage work-related and personal conversations.

5. Cultivate Mindfulness: Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for regaining control over technology use. When you find yourself reaching for your device out of habit, pause and assess your intention. Are you genuinely addressing a task or succumbing to the pull of distraction?

By cultivating mindfulness, you can make intentional choices about when and how you engage with technology. Engaging in moments of mindfulness or meditation can help counter our need for stimulation and help us become more comfortable with what has become one of the most distressing experiences in the modern world: boredom.

6. Designated Tech-Free Zones: Establishing tech-free zones in your home can create sacred spaces for relaxation and connection. Bedrooms and dining areas can be designated as off-limits for devices. This practice encourages face-to-face interactions, quality sleep, and a sense of separation from the digital world during essential moments of the day.

This can be especially important for those with rooms serving a dual purpose, such as a bedroom with an office area. The more that can be done to separate work from domestic living, the better – cover the monitor with a sheet or move the laptop out of sight each day. Charge your phone in another room and use a regular alarm clock to help you wake up daily to eliminate checking your device first thing in the morning.

7. Lead by Example: If you’re a parent, remember that your relationship with technology sets a precedent for your children. Demonstrating a healthy balance of technology use can inspire them to do the same. By exhibiting the importance of disconnecting and engaging in real-world experiences, you create a positive influence that extends beyond your own life.

The challenges posed by technology for adults are real and significant. Yet, by taking some small steps, you can regain control over your relationship with technology. It’s a gradual process that requires conscious effort, but the rewards are immense – increased productivity, improved well-being, and a renewed sense of agency in the digital age. We can strive for technology to enhance our lives, not dominate them.

Avatar Dr. Jeffrey Gagliardi

Written by Dr. Jeffrey Gagliardi

Dr. Jeffrey Gagliardi is a therapist in Connecticut and New York who specializes in individual therapy.