Techmindfulness – Be intentional with your digital life
Disclaimer: Work Wife Wine Time promotes the responsible consumption of alcohol and technology. We also encourage creating a healthy relationship with tech because it is here to stay.
To get your hands on a copy of Mikala’s Top 5 Tips to Avoid Tech Overwhelm freebie visit: www.workwifewinetime.com.au/techoverwhelm
Work Wife Wine Time promotes the responsible consumption of alcohol and technology. We also encourage creating a healthy relationship with tech, because it’s here to stay.
Welcome to episode nine of Work Wife Wine Time. In today’s podcast, Gemma and I chat about the concept of tech mindfulness and how you can become more mindful with the tech you use in your life and business.
Okay, so when I was writing your site and I received a lot of your information and everything, I came across this amazing word hashtag of tech mindfulness. And I’m a leader in the tech mindfulness movement. And I’m thinking, What’s this? This sounds really cool. Wow. I wanted to know more about it at the time. And I’m sure everyone does because the concept is just fantastic. And especially coming from someone within tech. So take it away. Mikala, what is tech mindfulness?
Tech mindfulness is really about, obviously being mindful with your tech. So it’s carefully creating the tech that you use in your life. So it encompasses the life cycle of the technology. So you need to think about why you need, what you choose, what you use, when you use it, how you use it, and then also what you do with it once it’s no longer useful, so it’s really about having clarity around your digital life and cutting down on the noise and distraction that our digital life can cause. Because, you know, everyone’s got 500,000 notifications and things on their phones and on their computers. And the fact of the matter is, we always need tech, like tech is a part of life. It’s here to stay. Kids are using it right from when they start school even before they start school. You know, parents are handing their kids iPads when they’re very young. So it’s about learning how to leave well with your tech and not have it run your life, how to use it skillfully as a tool and how to live comfortably with it, not use it as a distraction or as an excuse for not fully engaging in life but using it to enhance what you do.
Yeah, amazing. It’s really interesting. And where did the idea of tech mindfulness come from?
Well, I’ve always been really interested in the concept of mindfulness, because I’m actually I’m a practising Buddhist. And also when the idea of digital detoxes came along, probably in the last, I don’t know, six or eight years. So the idea of digital detox is that you disconnect from tech for a day or an hour a day or a week or, you know, depending on who you are and what your relationship is like with tech. So it’s about breaking the addiction that people have with their tech with the iPhone in your pocket, if you’re constantly pulling it out, just to see if you’ve got a text or see if you’ve had a notification about a post you did on Facebook or something like that. Because you know, I’m sure we’ve all heard how your brain gets a hit of dopamine every time you get a notification on your phone. You know, it’s like the pavlov’s dog thing.
And yeah, you get a shot of happy hormone. So yeah, so people were talking about doing and undertaking digital detoxes as a way to sort of break that cycle of being so addicted to the tech. But tech mindfulness for me is about not needing to do a digital detox because you kind of build in that awareness. And that practice and those habits just as a general part of your living. So you know, you don’t just use tech constantly and have it really full on all the time and then take a weekend away from it to give you a break. To then just jump back straight in and be using it full on again the following week, it’s about embracing those practices on an ongoing basis or day to day, hour to hour just in the tech that you use in the way that you use it. And so, for me, it was a bit of, you know, I practice Buddhism, but I also work in an environment and run a business that revolves around tech. So that’s kind of always brought up a lot of really interesting paradoxes for me because Buddhism is about controlling your mind. So it’s about quieting your mind, reducing your thoughts, having a really peaceful, calm space to come back to. And in a lot of ways, tech is the absolute opposite of that. Tech is about being busy and being connected and constantly doing and constantly thinking. So that’s what kind of drove me to build on this idea. But then, of course, there’s also the idea around my kids growing up with tech, because when they were younger, you know, they had iPods and then stepped up to iPads. And now they’re both in high school. So they’ve got laptops as well that they use every day. And it was a case of wanting them to use tech in a mindful and meaningful way. So, you know, again, they’re not just constantly connected, and on their screens, they’re able to function when the internet goes down, for example, it’s not a panic, Oh, my gosh, sort of thing. And the important part for me as it’s always been with my parenting is to lead by example. So it’s not a case of Okay, you’re only allowed have your iPad for two hours a day. Well, that’s not very fair. If when I finished work, I’m sitting on my iPad for four hours of an evening. That’s just the way I parent, it’s like, if I want my kids to do it, and I have to do it too. So that’s helped us create some family habits around things. And I started sharing these habits and ideas with people and started getting a really positive response. And so that kind of led me to create the hashtag tech mindfulness. But then also building on for that as my kids grew up, and my daughter, particularly when she got into high school, and all of these climate change movement really came to the forefront. Then the focus kind of extended again to really consider the sustainability and responsibility to the planet and future generations. And you know again, a lot of us actually are aware that a lot of the components that go into your tech, are mined which you know, has damaging effects on the earth. They involve really harmful chemicals which can, you know, affect the health of the people who are creating the products. But also once we finish using these products, if they go into landfill, then those chemicals can leach into our water table and into the environment and cause all sorts of problems. So it’s really about everything surrounding our tech. And that’s how it evolved. That’s how my idea sort of started and then evolved as I looked at what I was doing and watched my kids grow up and sort of started then to look forward to the kind of world that I want them to inhabit.
Yeah, I think that’s really interesting. And I think as much as you bring up your children and children, like for example, we didn’t grow up with tech, of coourse, but so many people, our age and much older have big addictions to tech. And it’s quite astonishing to me because we weren’t raised with it in that way.
Yeah. Yeah, I guess, like, you know, I do talk about the effect that it has my children, but I suppose I talk about it that way, because that’s something that I can see that’s external. So I really notice. So I’ve sort of looked at their response to it and then realised my own response. When we were growing up, my kids roll my eyes every time I tell the story, but you know, it’s when I didn’t sort of have access to computers in school until we hit high school and then it was like it was a DOS based programme. So you had to type in your little algorithms. You know, or we did typing skills on a keyboard. So it was a really basic word processing programme it was nothing to get hooked on. There was no great excitement around it. And I guess in that respect too, I have always been really interested in computers like, at school, when we started, they started offering computer programming options, which again was very basic DOS base typing your algorithm and make a little Lego robot thing move around the table. I love that. And I embrace that. So that’s really, that kind of formed my relationship with tech. And it gave me I suppose it gave me the confidence that I have today to play around with tech because I do understand fundamentally how it works and that you really can’t break things. And you don’t know how to fix things if you do mess them up. But yeah, so again, I’ve had that relationship right from when it really started to become a thing. And because I’ve always even before I converted to Buddhism, I’ve always had an interest in mindfulness and meditation and taking time so I suppose even without me really realising it, I’ve always developed those ideas in the back of my head. But again, seeing my children do these things, it’s like kind of made me go, I need to do something about this. I need to actually take action and not be passive about how to be healthy with your tech.
Absolutely. I think it’s a fantastic idea. I started to think about it when I was working on your site. And when I was living in Costa Rica, a country there is 99%, green energy. All of their power’s run off rain and wind, right? It’s amazing, but on the flip side, it also means they do have a lot of problems and power goes out a lot. But if you have low bills and you’re not wasting energy, then no one cares, you know, and it’s just really interesting for me. So I would go two days without internet, which, you know, meant I couldn’t contact friends or family. And it’s fine. And it’s like, no one really cares, it’s just part of life, you know. And it’s just really interesting how it’s like so many people can’t cope if they don’t have the internet and just through my travels, I had many times without the internet, you know, I tracked the Amazon jungle for three weeks and obviously had no form of any communication.
When I was in Cuba that was there pre internet, well, before they got the internet, which was literally two years ago. But anyway, you know, yeah, I don’t know. I just found this tech mindfulness really interesting, because I sort of realised it there. But before that, I didn’t realise that I would just pick up my phone and check it for what? For no reason. There’s nothing on it. Why am I doing that?,
I even found, like a few years ago, my partner and I used to travel quite a bit like we just pop over, because we’re in Tassie, we’d pop over to Melbourne for just weekends away every now and again. And I’d get on the plane and you know how you get on the plane and you’ve got to turn your phone off back then you did now your allowed to have them on in flight mode, but you had to turn it off. So I’d get on the plane and I’d turn my phone off, and I’d get off the plane in Melbourne. And I think I don’t know if it was a moving state thing or you know, because we were going to have a break. And I just wouldn’t actually turn my phone back on, or I would turn it back on, but I’d turn everything else off. I’d turn off my email, I’d delete my social apps, like it would literally just be a phone because otherwise I never turn my phone off. You know, I plug it in to charge it. It’s always on. So actually turning it off was like Oh wow, I can do that? That’s a thing I can do? And then I’d have it off for the whole weekend. And I’d actually find that then as we were flying back into Hobart, I’d start to get a bit anxious about having to turn all of that stuff back on, like having to turn my phone back on and having to show my email back on and look at my email. And, like, that was really interesting for me, because I thought I was pretty good with this sort of stuff. Because, you know, I’ve done it for quite a long time. But, you know, just feeling that anxiety. It’s like, wow this is what I’m feeling, how must these people that aren’t aware of this stuff be feeling all the time without realising it. Because you know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t give you the brain space when you’ve constantly got this thing in your hand. And, you know, and especially with running a business, your email means there’s always work there. It’s not just like personal email where you’ve got subscriptions to different websites, and they’re trying to sell you things, but I’ve really enjoyed those times. Just the turning it off. And not wanting to turn it back on again.
Totally, totally relate. It’s It’s great. So then why is his tech mindfulness so important to us?
Well, as I’ve kind of already said, it’s really important to have a healthy relationship with technology because it’s here to stay like it’s not going anywhere. At this moment in time, I can’t see how it could increase more from what we’ve already got. But you never know what the future holds. So it’s not going to reduce, let’s put it that way. So we really, it’s really important to create a healthy relationship with it and balance in your life around it. Like it’s important to have on screen time and off screen time. Not just for you know, your eyes and your brain but to have a well rounded emotional life, to be able to stop and listen to your thoughts and deal with your negative emotions. Be aware of what’s going on in your mind. Getting a but bhuddist there, but to be able to see what is actually happening in your mind and become conscious of that, but also to get out and be in nature and go for a walk, play with your pets, talk to people, like my kids, it’s like play with Lego. My daughter’s been doing like all these twirling stuff, not baton type twirling, but it’s almost like lightsaber stuff from Star Wars. You know, they’ve got the really cool lightsaber she’s been teaching yourself those, is just using an old wooden post thing.
Yeah, it’s just being creative. Yeah. And getting outside. So that’s important. And also, you know, which kind of goes hand in hand with that. It’s like we’ve got some really unhealthy things going on at the moment like the obesity pandemic, and you know, people have lost the ability to be patient with each other. Because one thing the internet has allowed us to have things immediately. You know, you want music. You don’t have to go into town and go to the record shop and buy the CD. You just buy it on your phone, and within 30 seconds, you’re listening to that song. Well, now you don’t even have to with Spotify and that sort of thing. But it’s like everything’s now. You want to book you don’t you want to order it online? You don’t want to wait for it to arrive, download the Kindle version. You’ve got it now. You know, we don’t actually have to wait for anything. And so we’re not getting the opportunity to develop patience and patience is something too that you see with our interpersonal relationships, people are getting impatient with each other people aren’t taking the time to understand and have compassion for where each other is at with things you know. Like road rage, for example, you get really pissed off, someone cuts you off, you get super pissed off like that straight away. And it’s because our minds are whirring because that’s what technology does to it, it gets us into a hyper state. Where as you know, if you weren’t in this hyper state, if you were more mindful and more present, then you could go, oh, wow, that person must have had a really bad day, you know, to cut me off like that, or they’re in a really big hurry or, you know, so you can turn that impatience into understanding. And also things like you know, the divorce rates and all that sort of thing. People just aren’t understanding each other anymore. They’re not spending the time to talk and to get to know each other and to work through problems because at nighttime when the kids go to bed, they’re sitting on the lounge on their iPad or watching Netflix or something. So yeah, it’s about that connection and the ability or the opportunity to develop patience and to develop hobbies and skills that aren’t reliant on technology. Because you know, when the internet goes down, then you don’t want your kids freaking out. Well don’t want you or your partner to be freaking out and oh my god, what do we do now? You need to have these outside interests.
Absolutely. Mm hmm. Yeah. That’s totally like, yeah, I completely understand. So tell us and our listeners, what can we do then to embrace tech mindfulness?
So to start at the beginning, be mindful about what you buy. So you don’t need, not everyone, some people do need an iPhone, or a smartphone plus a tablet plus a laptop plus a desktop plus some smartphone TV, plus, you know, Google homes and the Google Home hub, you know, work out exactly what you need your tech to do, and what you want your tech to do, and purchase mindfully. Because again, creating all these different things, is hard on the environment at the moment, there are a lot of companies that are moving to green energy and trying to do things better. But at the moment, it’s not working that way. So you know, be really mindful about what you buy, and why you’re buying it. Buy high quality things that will last longer. And again, ideally, that come from a company that has socially and environmentally responsible values, and also buy things that that have components that can be replaced. For example, my son’s got my old iPhone, and he was having a lot of trouble with the battery. It wasn’t lasting a full day. So instead of replacing the iPhone, we were just able to replace the battery, so if you get things that have replaceable parts as well, then again, it’s only the battery that’s getting replaced, not the whole thing.
I totally relate to that. It really astonishes me when something might break and people just throw it out and buy a new one.
Why are you doing that? I’m sure it’s just a part, which can be fixed or replaced.
That’s it, but it’s this whole consumable economy that we’ve got into and like there are companies like you know, Apple are working with the solar energy farm to try and use renewable energy in the manufacturing process. And also they’ve got a really good recycling programme. I don’t know what it’s like in Australia at the moment. But when we were overseas last year, we just dumped up a heap of our like old Apple electronics that we’ve accumulated over the years because they have a really good recycling programme, they take it apart on what can be used they use and what can’t be reused, they dispose of in a correct manner. I mean, I have to admit that I am an Apple person anyway. But, you know, there are other companies that do those sorts of things as well. So it’s about really doing your research in that respect, before you make a purchase. So that’s number one. Number two is we’ve kind of touched on this, fight the FOMO. So only buy or replace items that you actually need. Instead of things that you’d like to have, and then only replace them when their functionality has significantly reduced and can’t be improved by like buying a new battery or something. Don’t replace your iPhone because a newer one has come out and you’ve only had yours for two years. If it still works keep using it. You know, it’s the whole FOMO thing. We want it to be able to do all these amazing things, but do you actually need it to? Does that add value to your life, or just does it just give you something else to play with? It’s being mindful of that. And number three is set boundaries around technology use in your home. So you can have tech free times or tech free days. We actually have, I work from home. So during the week, the internet’s on all day, however, we have our internet modem on a timer. So at 7.30-8 o’clock at night, it actually goes off. So at that time, it’s a case of we either all come together and watch free to air TV, obviously. Or we turn the TV off, and we play board games or we read because I’m very big on reading. So and sometimes my partner and I’ll sit in the lounge room and read and the kids will sit at the table and play a board game with each other, but basically, yeah, so they’ve got free rein on their technology throughout the day. But at eight o’clock at night, it’s phones, tablets, everything down everyone and doing things offline. And you know, around that is of course, you’ve got to lead by example, you can’t just tell your kids that right, turning that off, you’re not allowed to use it. I’m gonna sit here on my phone for the next three hours but you’re not allowed do it like it’s–
Yeah, lead by example.
That’s it. And also there’s a lot of features on your devices as well like Apple again have downtime and do not disturb, which allow you, so I use Do Not Disturb every night. So between 7pm and 7am texts don’t come through like they come on to my phone. So the next day I can see them all. I can jump into my phone and see what’s there. But they don’t ping you know, they don’t come up on the screen. My phone is just silent for that time because I’m turning off from things, I don’t want to know I don’t want notifications. So using those things using parental controls, my son’s 12. I still use these with him. He’s got some games that he likes to play, and I set limits on the amount of time he can spend on them. Like we have an Xbox, but everyone has a two hour time limit. So yep, you can play the Xbox. That’s not a problem. But you’ve only got two hours that you can play it during the day. My reasons for doing this are a bit weird, because they can get off the Xbox and then get on their laptop or their iPad or whatever. But they don’t tend to go straight from one to the other. It’s like, the Xbox timer goes off. So then they’ll go and see what like my son will go see what his sister’s doing. And if she’s doing something interesting, he can join in or you’ll check in with me and find out what I’m doing or, you know, so it kind of, it’s like a way of forcing them to come back into the real world even if it’s just for a short period of time. And again, you know, all of us have it. So I, on occasion, play a game on the Xbox two hour time limit. It’s the same for everyone in our family. And also there’s a really good website from the Australian Government www.esafety.gov.au and they’ve got some really good advice and ideas around how to manage tech with your family. So that’s a really good tool to use about how to set boundaries, and also teaching your kids you know about online safety as well, which is another really important aspect. A lot of the ideas that they have for helping you help your kids manage their technology better, are actually really really good for parents and adults as well. Like you know, they aim them at kids but you should be looking at yourself as well and being mindful about what you’re doing.
So that’s number three. Number four is being intentional about what you use and how you use it. So being selective with your email subscriptions unsubscribing, from things that don’t provide value to you, leaving social media groups tidying up your social media feed, so you don’t just have rubbish, like you should have stuff that’s interesting and inspiring. Nowadays, we hate ads on TV. We are very intolerant of ads on TV.
Except for Gemma. Gem misses them. But um, we fill our social media feeds with so much crap. You know, we’ll just scroll through all this rubbish to get to the bits that are actually interesting. So it’s being selective with what you allow there. Choosing some platforms that meet your needs. You know, keep it simple, less is more and using blocking apps to help you focus on your work during the day. If that’s a problem for you, so there’s apps such as freedom, rescue time, stay focused, that actually block certain programmes or social media. Yeah. So throughout the day, you can set it so you can’t get onto Facebook Like you literally your browser will just go not allowed. Or there’s other gentler ways to do it. Like, I need to be on Facebook for business purposes. So I use a Chrome extension called newsfeed eradicator. So I can get onto Facebook, but I don’t have a newsfeed my newsfeed is just replaced with a quote. So I can get on and get into the groups I need to do and schedule posts or respond to things that I need to do. But I don’t have a feed so I don’t get sucked into the scroll. So that allows me to work on Facebook without wasting my time.
That’s probably one of the best things I’ve learnt in a long time. I obviously need Facebook for my job too and what happens? Oh, my newsfeed. So I’m getting onto newsfeed Eradicator immediately.
Highly recommend it. And so the last thing then is of course, you know, we’ve purchased the product we’ve been mindful and intentional about how we use it. So the last bit is be aware of your E waste recycling options and dispose of it responsibly. So again, this apple recycling programme, planet arc, have a lot of information on how to get rid of your E waste on their website and also your local councils. They have a lot of that information as well.
Wonderful. It’s such an interesting concept and I really, I trust the listeners will get a lot out of this. Because it’s so interesting and it’s something we don’t really think about like, for me personally, I never really realised how we’re just stuck to technology until I went overseas, you know, and if I didn’t have that, then I wouldn’t have realised. So there’s so many things to learn about it in the way of being mindful of protecting the environment of connecting, which we’re all about at Work Wife Wine Time.
Yeah, so it’s just a fantastic concept to to embrace. And I think it’s wonderful what you’ve created and what you’ve done. And, yeah, so what, what’s your final thought for today? Any key takeaways, what what can you tell us?
Well, I guess my final thought is, your technology is here to stay. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. So it’s important That you work out the best way to live with it. You need to be honestly authentic with yourself, work out what your priorities are and what your most important values are, both for your life and for your business, if you run a business online, or a business that uses tech, which is pretty much any business, and then just select the technology and develop the habits that are going to best support that. So you know, you have a balanced relationship with technology. So you use it, it doesn’t use you. And for those that are interested, I actually have a free download that you can access, which is my top five tips for avoiding tech overwhelm. And this actually covers a lot of the things that we’ve spoken about already. So it just sort of gives you a bit of a summary I suppose about what we’ve talked about, but if you want to get a copy of that, again, it’s totally free. You can go to www.workwifewinetime.com.au/techoverwhelm all is one word.
Wonderful. Mik, thank you so much for sharing this with us for creating the movement I love a good movement.
Don’t we all?
It is such a good movement! And like I said I hope that everyone can really get something out of this, I think embrace it in their own ways as well. And just be mindful of the consumption I think of tech and what makes this so powerful for me what like I said when I first heard about it and was writing your site, it’s okay, someone who’s actually in tech has created this so something must really mean something right? Cuz it’s your job. It’s what you’ve loved doing since you jumped on a DOS programme. You know, but you you see the other importance of it as well, which is amazing. So thank you. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.
It’s my pleasure.