Tuesday, May 21, 2019

10 Things I Did To Find That Balance Between Plugged In And Unplugged

With the unofficial start of summer approaching, I've been seeing a meme over and over again on my social media streams. It's a cartoon. The setting is a beach. A couple of young children have dug large, deep holes in the sand. In all of the holes, you can see feet sticking up. Those walking towards the holes are people looking down at their phone. The caption for one of the children who dug the holes says, "How many did you catch?" For me, the theme is obvious...

In this day and age, people are always looking down at their phones when their walking, sitting, or  at events like a concert or fireworks. People are viewing everything through their phone because they're taking photos and/or videos. The same holds true for restaurants. People use their phones while they're waiting for food. Then, they have to take photos of their food.

In other words, we're always plugged in.

At one time, that used to be me when I was working full time plus for various entrepreneurs. I had a laptop in our home office, the living room, and the kitchen. My phone was glued to my side. I would drop most everything to check the latest ding, beep, ring tone, text tone, etc. 

During that time, I would burn dinner or screw up part of the process of making dinner. That's when we were ordering takeout 3-4 times a week. 

When it was time to get some sleep, I had my phone on my pillow and my Chrome book only 2 feet away. 

I'll even go a step further and admit that I would get irritated with Lisa because she wasn't responding to things on Facebook or other social media streams. 

I was completely wrapped up in all things social media. Numbers. Comments. Algorithms. Views. Etc. By the time Lisa got home from work, I would be wound up tight and fuming and venting. 

It was out of control and I was constantly reaching for the Excedrin in my desk drawer.

Long story short, I knew I needed to make some changes. Little by little, I did.

The biggest change was realizing that I needed some unplugged time. Not everything needed my immediate attention. Not everything needed an immediate reply. Very little, if any, alert was a crisis. 

It has taken me a few years to find that balance between being plugged in and being unplugged. But, I did it. 

1. No tech while prepping or cooking dinner. When I'm prepping and cooking dinner for the kids, Lisa and myself, my focus is on that. Instead of scanning my social media streams, I'll put on music and dance in the kitchen. 

2. Tech free dinners. There was a time when I would eat my dinner at my desk and Lisa would do the same. In our home office. That ended a long time ago. We eat at the kitchen table now. Unplugged. The phones stay on the counter. We either chat during dinner or play a game like Skip-Bo, Yahtzee, or Backgammon. 

3. Family snuggle time. This happens after dinner and our evening routine. Sometimes, we get on the floor with the kids for play and snuggle time. Or, we sit on the sofa with our kids and watch something on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Our phones remain on the counter.

4. Reading instead of using the Chrome book before bed. I shut the Chrome book down at a certain time and pick up a book to read before bed. No more falling asleep while typing a blog column or scrolling through my social media streams. 

5. Spending time outdoors especially during the warm weather months. We are doing a lot more of this. When we do, the phones stay indoors. We also have plans on getting some outdoor games for the backyard. We both grew up playing fun games outdoors during the warm weather months. We miss that.

6. Get a hobby that doesn't involve tech. The year after we moved into our home in 2012, Lisa and I started putting out bird feeders. Over the years, our Bodacious Buffet O' Bird Feeders has grown. We have lots of birds that visit our feeders and it's quite entertaining. On the weekends, we spend some time in the early morning watching the birds. We do the same during the late afternoon. 

7. Spending time behind the lens. I love taking photos of the stuff happening around me. I have a camera. I do not rely on my phone to take photos. I enjoy capturing those candid moments of our kids, the birds, silly happenings, etc.

8. Spending time with our elders and friends who have become family. We've made so many memories with both around our table or a late night backyard fire. Sharing food. Great conversations. Stories. Laughs. Etc.

9. Spending time with our kids and Lisa. Time is precious. Life is short. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. All we have is today. We spend lots of time with our kids. Occasionally, Lisa and I escape for a few hours to do what we love to do or run errands. Every moment counts. When we venture off for a few hours, we take our phones with us just in case there is an emergency at our home or with us, but that's it. 

10. Think about how you would spend your time if you or your spouse or your kids only had a week to live. That puts things into perspective really quick. 

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