I love technology! I love gadgets and tools and apps! I love my iPhone and iPad and MacBook (yes, I drank the Apple Kool-Aid a few years back)! I’m a junkie for learning and productivity and effectiveness. I’m a sucker for gadgets and apps that make it easier to complete tasks faster.
In fact, I can spend an entire day being completely unproductive while working with productivity tools. Do you see the problem? Can you relate?
Before there was such thing as an iPhone or iPad, I wrote in my book, Culture Wars, “You may have joined the Adrenaline Culture if you don’t own a watch or a telephone—they own you.”
Wow! Maybe I should go back and read that book again!
It is so incredibly easy for us to become slaves to the very tools that are, theoretically, designed to assist us. We are constantly available and interruptible, so much so that we can’t manage to finish a conversation with a flesh-and-blood person in front of us because of the intrusions of our devices.
Not only that, we have created the expectation that we are instantly accessible—all day, every day. Because of that, we have people in our lives who become incredibly frustrated with us if we don't answer every phone call, instantly reply to every text message, and respond to email within 30 minutes.
Well, my friends, it is time to show our technology who’s boss!
Wouldn’t it be great if it were that simple? The truth is, we didn’t get here overnight, and we won’t regain balance and margin overnight either. But, if we don’t start with some positive steps in the right direction today, we won’t be where we need to be tomorrow, or next week, or next year.
So, here are four suggested first steps:
1. Deliberately take some time every day to be unavailable. Start with 15 minutes a day that you are actually not in the same room with your technology. Take a walk. Take a nap. Do something unconnected and unplugged. No excuses (I might miss an important message … I might need to take a picture … What if there is an emergency …).
2. Set boundaries and expectations. Plan in advance how you will respond to and process phone calls, texts, and emails. Voicemail is a wonderful tool. My outgoing voicemail message actually tells people that I only check it a couple of times per day and asks them for specific information so I can be prepared when I return the call. Because I have set that expectation, I can truly check messages on my schedule instead of someone else’s.
3. Schedule the technology interactions that you can. Determine in advance the two or three times a day that you will check and respond to email. Try this: 30 minutes mid-morning, 30 minutes mid-afternoon, 30 minutes at the end of the work day. If you can’t manage a complete day’s worth of email in 90 minutes, your problem is bigger than technology.
4. Wherever you are, be all there. Don’t let technology rob you of real, human interaction. Always choose your family over your technology. Always choose conversation with your lunch companion over the call that comes in during lunch.
There is so much more I could say on this matter. But for now, let me remind you that your life matters to God. If your technology doesn’t support that as your assistant, you may need to fire it as your boss.
Photo source: Depositphotos
Gerry Lewis serves as Executive Director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur, Texas. He is also a Church Consultant and Leadership Coach. His weekly blog and podcasts can be found at drgerrylewis.com.www