Three Ways to Break Bad Technology Habits


There was a time when the word “addic­tion” was asso­ci­at­ed exclu­sive­ly with drugs or alco­hol. Today, this def­i­n­i­tion also includes an exces­sive addic­tion to tech­nol­o­gy, smart­phones in par­tic­u­lar. Tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies, releas­ing their prod­ucts, repeat over and over again about the inten­tion to make the world a bet­ter place. It is like­ly that they, indeed, have good inten­tions. But it can­not be denied that many mod­ern tech­nolo­gies have a side effect — they very strong­ly “hook” users on them­selves.

Adam Alter, pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing at New York Uni­ver­si­ty, in his book “Irre­sistibleclaims that the more time a per­son spends behind a screen, the less hap­py they are. BUT a recent study by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pitts­burgh found that peo­ple who active­ly use mul­ti­ple social net­works are three times more like­ly to be at risk of depres­sion.

Alter writes that the smart­phone has become for the mod­ern user some­thing like a paci­fi­er for adults. A small child drags a paci­fi­er into his mouth to feel com­fort and calm down. And in the same way, an adult reach­es for a smart­phone when he feels rest­less and inse­cure. Researchers at Colum­bia and Penn­syl­va­nia Uni­ver­si­ties, hav­ing stud­ied impact of smart­phone on stress lev­elscame to the con­clu­sion that the com­par­i­son with a paci­fi­er pro­posed by Pro­fes­sor Alter can be con­sid­ered very accu­rate.

Many users are aware of how unhealthy their gad­get addic­tion is, but do not know how to deal with it. Alter offers three effec­tive meth­ods.

Avoid dis­trac­tions

Stud­ies show that email is one of the biggest dis­trac­tions that gets in the way of work. Alter claims that, on aver­age, it takes six sec­onds to read one short work email. But after that, it takes about 25 min­utes for the employ­ee to start work­ing at the same lev­el of con­cen­tra­tion.

Very often, check­ing mes­sages serves as a way for the user to get dis­tract­ed or get rid of bore­dom. This is a very bad habit. If you want to be pro­duc­tive, turn off noti­fi­ca­tions and don’t get dis­tract­ed by check­ing junk. If you have noth­ing to do, again, do not try to escape from bore­dom in the world of elec­tron­ic mes­sages. Try to feel bored and just relax. Do this for sev­er­al days in a row, and you will see how your hands will auto­mat­i­cal­ly stop reach­ing for the gad­get in moments of silence.

Set Phys­i­cal Lim­its

If you find it dif­fi­cult to sup­press the impulse to grab your smart­phone, try set­ting phys­i­cal lim­its.

Alter rec­om­mends sim­ply leav­ing the smart­phone away. For exam­ple, if you go to get cof­fee at work, leave your phone at the office. This will make it phys­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble to try to use the adult paci­fi­er.

Ide­al­ly, you should strive for a state where the smart­phone is next to you, but you do not feel an impul­sive desire to look into it.

Use paus­es proac­tive­ly

Watch how peo­ple behave in trans­port or in line at the store. As soon as they find them­selves in a poten­tial­ly awk­ward or bor­ing sit­u­a­tion, they imme­di­ate­ly stare at the smart­phone screen.

It is much more use­ful to use such paus­es to sim­ply reflect. Alter writes: “I will choose a prob­lem that has been both­er­ing me late­ly and use the free 15–20 min­utes to think about its solu­tion.”

The prob­lem of the mod­ern user is that he does not know when to take a break from the screen. Instead of some­how inter­act­ing with strangers or think­ing about impor­tant issues, peo­ple auto­mat­i­cal­ly pull out a smart­phone from their pock­et and stick to it. And they don’t even under­stand that they are doing it not out of neces­si­ty, but sim­ply for the sake of com­pla­cen­cy. If you notice this behav­ior in your­self, try fol­low­ing Pro­fes­sor Alter’s meth­ods. Very soon you will notice how your habits will change.







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