It’s everywhere in modern life. Gadgets surround us. Even the simple devices our grandparents knew now have computer chip brains. Everywhere we turn we are bombarded with pleas for attention from the machines that fill our lives. With the wide-spread use of the Internet and cell phones we are always “on” during our waking lives.
Too much demand of these type of labor-saving and convenience devices can actually fracture our attention and make us work more…yes, those very same labor-saving devices. There are ways to reclaim your life, though. Here are four:
1. Turn Them Off
Almost all of the devices that demand our attention are electrical in nature. (After all, you don’t hear a hammer beeping to be picked up!) Turn them off. It might be hard. I challenged my coworkers to keep their computers off during National Shut Down Day. One coworker said he couldn’t spend a whole day without email. So maybe turn them off for an hour.
2. Don’t Buy Them
When my toaster burned out, I looked for replacements. I found it hard to find a toaster that didn’t try to select the perfect level of doneness through sensors. All I needed and wanted was a device with toasting coils. It’s not because I am anti-technology. It’s because I can fix a toaster with coils. I can’t fix a computer chip.
When you are tempted to buy a new device, stop and ask yourself if the labor it will save will be offset by other labor, or if you will have to spend a lot of time maintaining it. My coffee maker doesn’t grind beans or pre-heat the water. But at the same time, unlike a good friend of mine, I’ve never had to strip it down to degunk it to keep it working.
3. Make Them Earn Your Attention
Devices aren’t kids. Just because a device may want my attention doesn’t mean it should automatically receive it. I have the power to decide. And I decide that I will not receive work calls on my cell during non-work hours, and that the cell will be off after 8 p.m.
Just because you can get up-to-the-minute details of headlines sent to your cell wherever you are doesn’t mean you should do so. Does it really matter to you what the latest celebrity problem child is doing at the moment?
4. Adjust Your Expectations
No device, no matter how great, is going to take your problems away. Buying a dishwasher doesn’t eliminate dirty dishes, it just washes the dishes. You still have to prep them and put them away when clean. If you think your life will be wonderful if you purchase the latest cell phone, PDA, MP3, TV, etc., advertising has done its job. Take your mind and will power back. Adjust your expectations.
In closing, I just want to remind you that these things are electronic devices that are meant to serve us, not the other way around. If you spend more time keeping a device going or giving attention than it saves you, think about if you really need it.