Technology powers much of our daily routine. From the moment we wake up, many of us reach for our mobile devices to silence the alarm, check push notifications and scan our inbox.
"When you allow a tool to take over, that's when you've lost sight of what's truly important," says Adriana Girdler, president of CornerStone Dynamics in Toronto. "As much as technology has given us, it has also disconnected us."
As we become more aware of technology's downside, a cottage industry of alternatives, such as yoga holidays and spa retreats — all designed with enforced digital-free zones — is thriving.
If you can't afford an all-out retreat, you can take steps to limit your digital consumption by finding ways to connect with others — and yourself — offline.
Here are some tips for trimming your digital diet without having to go "cold turkey":
> Hold a "live" meeting
For all the convenience that technology affords in keeping us plugged in to developments around the world, it has also managed to disengage us from the people around us.
Social media, email, web conferencing and other communication platforms often don't fully command our attention as well as face-to-face meetings, Girdler says. They can make us tone-deaf to the concerns others are trying to communicate. With teleconferencing, for example, people have the option of tuning out and may be multitasking as others speak.
So, the next time you have business to discuss with your staff or you're due to check in with a client, Girdler says, opt for an in-person meeting that's free of any digital distractions.
> Tune out every hour
Break away from your computer or mobile device for two minutes every hour or so to decompress. Treat it as a mini "course correction," Girdler says, in which you assess your progress and get reconnected, in the real world, with the goals you've set for the day.
If you can manage it, she adds, consider getting into the habit of turning off all your devices for half an hour once a day. This exercise can be as simple taking a walk without having your smartphone as a companion.
> Make meditation a routine
Moments of silence can help you manage stress and make you more attuned to the present and to what's important. Girdler, who practices meditation, suggests setting aside a small chunk of time each day to meditate and recharge — without the help of technology. This practice can help you remain grounded and pursue your goals with purpose and determination.
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