how to manage digital overwhelm

It’s noisy out there {in here}, right?

Recently, I was jamming with a client on how hard it is to turn down the volume.

When digital devotions slides into digital addiction, it makes an awful din.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the benefits of connectivity.
After all, it’s probably how we found each other.

The WWW allows us to have instant access to information, to easily connect with loved ones across the land and sea, and to meet people we wouldn’t otherwise meet.

At the same time, we need to make sure our relationship to technology adds liberation instead of limitation.

There’s plenty of good science that tells us too much screen time can interfere with having healthy social relationships and healthy habits, it can decrease mental well-being and emotional intelligence, it can create feelings of disconnection and isolation, it can encourage comparison and procrastination, it can cause happiness to drop and stress to rise.

To quiet the chaos, first be conscious of it …

How does the online world impact you for the good?
How does the online world affect you for the bad?
How can you enhance or appreciate the good?
How can you minimize or eliminate the bad?

Then, decide what you want to do about it. Here are a few ideas …

  • switch to a paper scheduler
  • turn off all alerts and notifications
  • turn your phone off for an entire day once a week
  • limit your online activity to a certain amount of time per day
  • get an alarm clock and keep the bedroom a phone-free zone
  • ensure your device is never between you and the people you love
  • use your phone only as a phone for a day {no texting, internet, apps, etc.}
  • remove unnecessary technology from your home to minimize temptations
  • delete social media apps from your phone and only access social site from your computer
  • once a quarter {or month or week or day} commit to digital free activities that soothe your soul
  • create a family ritual of putting phones in a bowl at 6pm and leave them there until the next morning
  • have a conversation with your loved ones about leaving your phones at home during your next road trip
  • engage in screen-free entertainment {write a letter, paint a picture, do a puzzle, read a book, play a board game}
  • make plans to breathe the same air as the humans you adore {while you’re at it make sure you’ve blocked off enough time for a second cup of coffee … sometimes, going deep requires a second dose}

Pick the disconnect to connect strategies that are right for you and apply them to your life.
Here’s what it looks like for me –

Rise and Shine.
I make sure I’m up an hour before the Suns so I have time to sip and write and think. While the Suns are snoring, I make sure everything else stays asleep {like my phone and computer}.

Soak and Read.
Not long ago, I realized I hadn’t read a non-pixelated word in a month. My phone had made its way into every area of my life, including my tub! I stacked my favourite books on the bathroom ledge, took back the bath, and declared it to be a paper-only zone.

Walk and Wild.
Some of the greatest thinkers, creators, and researchers spent hours everyday walking. Strolling by the river or in the mountains gives me time to think, to remember my relationship to the wild, and to release my thoughts to the cotton candy skies. I enjoy at least one long weekend every quarter soaking up Vitamin N in the Rocky Mountains {you can too, come to a weekend immersion!}

Exercise and Energy.
There’s plenty of good science that tells us nutrition and exercise are more effective at managing many mental and physical health conditions that medications. If I’m not eating clean and being active at least six days per week, my mind gets irritable, my body gets tense and I get snappy with the Suns. And, that’s just not okay. I make it a priority to get my body in motion and to fuel it in healthy ways throughout the day.

Dump Distractions.
My phone is on silent {not vibrate because the buzzing distracts me} for 99.7% of my day and at least once a year, I take a month away from social media. Did you know I sold almost everything to live in a van while on tour for Your Great Life? When the Suns and I retuned to Calgary and moved into a Brownstone, we suddenly had more space than our 80 square foot home on wheels. Did we get a TV? A gaming console? Other technology? Nah, we decided against it. Minimal technology means less distractions and more presence.

As you commit to your digital liberation, remember to be gentle with yourself.

Changing habits isn’t always easy and can take time. Start small, focus on just one thing, don’t believe the negative FOMO thoughts, and focus on the good.

You’ve got this.
Your freedom is worth it.