"Checking in"—to Life : Escaping the Digital Timesuck


We live in a world of dings, beeps, buzzes, alerts, and updates. Someone likes our post, a friend sent a text, we have a new follower, someone recommended us, an email just arrived, and heaven forbid a group text starts! You think these notifications help you stay connected to your world, but most of the time they just pull you from the real world into the digital one. The Matrix has you!

We’re constantly connected to the world, yet ever distant from the present moment. It’s time to start “checking in” to your life more often than you are checking in online. Here are three of the biggest digital time sucking traps and the secret escape back to the real world.

1. The dinner dilemma - How often do you see one or more people at a dinner table with their phone glued to their face. What does that communicate about how important the other person is? Worse yet, you aren’t actually together, even though you are both present. We eat in a digital coma, connecting somewhere else.

No phones at the table - Dinner is a time to talk and review the day, share insights and troubles with the ones we love. Even emergencies can usually wait 20 to 30 minutes. We sometimes take for granted that little over 20 years ago, no one had a cell phone and the world still kept spinning. Keep that in mind when you are tempted to check what the buzz is about.

2. Email extraction - No it’s not the latest VR Job simulator, it’s your life! If you are a typical office worker, email still dominates your life. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found after careful study, on average, that the typical office worker is interrupted or switches tasks, every three minutes and five seconds. It is estimated that for every interruption you lose up to 23 minutes of progress. Ding, there it went again. We wonder why we are so busy, but always behind. We do it to ourselves by not setting proper boundaries.

Email extermination - You must become the master of your email, not let it become your master. Don’t allow distracting dings to interrupt you every five minutes. Scheduled email processing for a time of your choosing. When it is time, you process your inbox into appropriate folders. Every email can fit into a few folder categories for processing: take action, waiting on someone, reference, delegate, or delete. If it can be done in under two minutes, reply and get it done now, rather than sort it. If you need a reference for this, check out “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. (Not affiliated, but I love it on Audible)

3. Screen sleepwalking - It is a tempting ritual to always check up on the world, see what all your friends and family are doing before bed. This leads to mental junk food diet of, endless cute cat videos, the latest celebrity gossip, and mindless scrolling. Soon two hours have gone by. Your mind gets stimulated with the empty mental carbs and you sleep poorly.

Screenless dreams - Screens at night will stimulate your mind and rob you of restful sleep. The blue hue tells your brain that it’s day time and you should be awake. The simplest rule of thumb is that the bedroom is for two things sleeping and sex, that is it. The serotonin hit from Facebook is tempting, but you need a new nightly ritual. Some alternatives are to read a book, meditate, reflect on the day, or write in a journal. Pick any activity without a screen.

Those are just a few of the digital time vortexes we get sucked into in modern life. We must master them or be mastered by them. Each of these time recapturing tips can be modified to fit your lifestyle, even if you are a serious addict. If you need help with recapturing your time or changing bad habit reach out to me. If you loved these tips, subscribe.

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