By Chrissy Bernal
As I was flying back from a business trip to Atlanta, I was enjoying the peace and quiet. Yes, despite being sandwiched in the middle seat of a not-so-generously-appointed airplane, I was enjoying the quiet. My phone wasn’t ringing. I wasn’t hearing the “ding” notification of an incoming e-mail or text message.
It was just me, my headphones filling my ears with soothing classical music and the book I had so desperately wanted to finish. I was relishing in the inability to be able to work. With no access to my email or phone, I was forced to relax. Ahhhh bliss.
I have to admit that I’m very glad for the ability to work remotely. I’m able be with my kids and work from home. I can send out those documents from my IPad while waiting at the girls’ Hip Hop Dance Class. I can sit at a coffee house for a change of scenery. Having constant access to work makes it quite nice.
On the other hand, having constant contact with work, means work also has constant contact with me. Just 10 years ago, when a parent came home from work, they were usually actually home from work. No interruptions during family TV time. Parents could help with homework and not be preoccupied with their own work.
Now it can be very easy for work to interrupt family time. If you’re anything like me, once you hear that “ding”, your mind is preoccupied until you check and see what it is. Messages that really could wait until the next day are given an undeserved label of urgency. And then, if it’s an upsetting message, it changes your attitude. Our families end up being pushed on the back burner.
So, my husband and I have found a few ways that help us prevent technology overload at our house.
1. Set certain times when you’ll check and return e-mails. Smartphones have the capability to “push” your e-mails to your phone. So, instead of having e-mails pushed immediately, program it for every hour or so, or whatever time works for you. You’d be surprised at how much more productive you’ll be during the day if you’re not interrupted by e-mails every 5 minutes. If you sit down at specified times and knock out your list of e-mails to be returned, you’ll stay more focused on each task. A great way of addresses urgent e-mails is to begin training people in advance that you won’t be sitting at your phone or computer waiting for e-mails to come in. You can add a line to your signature stating that texting you when an urgent e-mail is sent is the fastest way for a response.
2. No phones at the dinner table.
3. No phones during homework time.
4. If there’s absolutely something I need to work on, I make sure I’m in the same room as the family while I’m on my laptop. That way, I’m still able to be around them.
5. We retreat to our room at a time we agreed on where we unplug and spend time with each other.
6. Phones are completely turned off for bed time.
What ways have you found that have helped your family keep technology from taking over? Do you have specific concerns not addressed here?