Tips From A Medium.com Article By Clint Carter
An article by Clint Carter offers insights from eight technology leaders about how to best manage our mobile devices to minimize stress and make life more productive and relaxing. Carter makes the convincing argument that we are feeding the tech beast with our obsessive use. We must recognize that companies are working hard to get us – and keep us – addicted.
Heed some awesome tips on managing our mobile device usage:
- Get a solid hour of work done before you launch your browser.
- Quit video games cold turkey if they are messing with your life.
- Manage your use of email with group project apps and the Gmail snooze function.
- Take breaks from social media when you feel overwhelmed.
- Keep your device at a safe distance, both to avoid EMF and also to avoid temptation.
- Remove your email off your mobile device so you aren’t constantly compelled to keep up.
- Consider swapping out social media apps for legit news resources.
- Schedule down time from phone use, like using airplane mode on weekends and taking photos instead.
A great quote from Dr. Peper in the article states: “The phone hijacks our evolutionary patterns. We don’t do good with multitasking, so if you’re writing an article, and every five minutes you pop back to answer a message, you’re much less productive in the long term.”
Welcome to the Get Over Yourself Podcast. This is Brad Kearns.
“In some ways, our nonstop online lives are bringing us closer, but at least as often, the relentless pace of social media, email and constant pings and beeps only serve to pull us further apart. And all this tech is certainly bad for our health and our happiness. Research links social media to depression.”
Okay, check it, check it out. It’s Santana again, stepping, stepping, stepping out.
[Brad Kearns’ Singing 00:00:39]
Stepping, stepping, stepping out, one of the brand-new big boys toys, I do big boy things, I make big boy noise cuz, I know what girls want, I know what they like. They like to stay up and party all night – so bring a friend.
Let me talk to you, tell you how it is, I was thinking when I saw …
[End of Singing 00:01:06]
I have to. I’m sorry listeners, I have to ruin the original recording. Otherwise, I subject myself to liability, trademark violation laws. But because I bastardized the original recording, I am scot-free. I can use everybody’s music, thank you Chris Brown.
This is a breather show on battling the addiction to your mobile phone. I hate that word “addiction”. I’m making a conscious choice to allow my phone to dominate my daily life experience. Does that sound better? Is that cleaner? Cousin Babs, what do you think? Are you listening to the show? She’s an addiction counselor, so she could determine whether I’m BS-ing or not.
In any case, phones are a prominent part of modern life and in many ways, their contribution to your daily life can be destructive. So, I found a cool article on medium.com. Have you heard of that website? It’s fantastic. They compile all kinds of wonderful articles on different topics. It’s really cool. I’ve been clicking over there and finding a lot of fun stuff to read, and then they gave me this warning message recently and it says, “Hey dude, you’ve reached your maximum number of free articles, why don’t you subscribe and join?”
Usually, I like to find my way out of opportunities like that. But you know what I said, “You know what, you guys do print some really good stuff.” I especially love the relationship articles by Chris Gauge – hoping to get her on the show someday. But plenty of other great content too. So, I popped 50 bucks for a year of unlimited access to medium.com and this great article from the writer, Clint Carter. He has some pretty heavy quotes to start this thing out. It’s going to rock your world and hopefully change your life, because I really am coping to this situation in my life and I want to make improvements and optimizations so that I’m not addicted to tech. I don’t allow email to overwhelm my daily work experience, which is a common problem for me and for others.
So, Clint Carter kicks off saying,
“With every Facebook post that you like, tweet you send or question you type into Google, you’re giving the internet strength. You’re feeding the algorithms, paying the advertisers. You’re also helping to fill server firms that will ultimately be replaced by bigger server firms.”
You know what a server firm is? Oh my gosh, Google a picture of Scandinavia server firm. These giant buildings that are cooled down because the servers, the computer servers generate a lot of heat.
One of them is built into the earth covered in snow, like glacier type terrain surrounding the server firm. So, I guess they spend less on air conditioning up there than they would in a random building in an urban area. Just interesting to reflect that these didn’t even exist, what? 30 years ago or something, and now, giant server firms dominate the planet.
“These server firms and the content they spit out effectively anchor the internet in the real world. This is all sweet and rosy.”
This is, again, quoting Carter.
“If the Internet human relationship is mutually beneficial, but it’s not clear that it is. In some ways, our nonstop online lives are bringing us closer, but at least as often, the relentless pace of social media, email and constant pings and beeps only serve to pull us further apart. And all this tech is certainly bad for our health and our happiness. Research links social media to depression and high-speed internet to poor sleep. Simply having a phone visible during meals has been shown to make conversation among friends less enjoyable.”
So, Carter talked to eight titans in the field of tech addiction, in general. Prominent guys, and these guys all offered up a quick tip to help you manage and navigate the propensity for tech addiction.
First one is from Dr. Dan Ariely, Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University and author of Predictably Irrational; The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. He says, give yourself one honest hour of work each day. I totally love this one. I’m going to editorialize on some of these because if they’re iffy, I’m going to call it out. It’s like, “Eh, maybe.” And then some of them, “Awesome.”
So, Dr. Dan says, the last thing he does every is turn his computer off. “The next day when I turn my computer back on, my browser and email are still off.” And he keeps it that way until he’s knocked out an hour of productive work without the internet connectivity and the reactivity that it fosters.
Me, being a person who is trying really hard to create content, that is start with a blank page and put something on it or start with a recording button that you push the red circle and then make something happen, accordantly, taking notes and preparing myself beforehand – I have to generate content and use creative energy accordingly. So, I benefit greatly from not having an experience where I’m connected.
Guess what I do? This is going to sound terrible, but it totally works. I will drive to the gulf course parking lot and work in my car for an hour or two until it’s time to go play speed golf, which is exactly 30 minutes before it gets dark. When the course is clear and I can go run like crazy through the holes and not disturb other golfers, because they’re all done. So, when I’m working at the golf course, knowing that my tee time is coming up, it puts me under some awesome time pressure because I can’t lose my sweet spot for speed golf. It’s not going to get dark on me, then my whole point of going to the golf course is ruined.
So, I got to kick some butt. Now, I’m knocking off at the exact time and that I get the opportunity to go out and exercise and balance this time sitting with a computer in my face. This little crazy setup guy working on laptop in the golf course parking lot works so effectively that it’s become a distinct repeating pattern. Where I set myself up to succeed by accepting that I’m not a complete master of my life and I’m a pathetic victim of tech addiction whereby, if there’s an internet connection, I will grab some of that action and get distracted from focusing on a peak cognitive performance task that does not entail navigating the internet.
Oh, and guess what else? When I get to the golf course, I arrive there before rush hour traffic. So, I leave early knowing that the traffic will be a breeze, knowing that I’m going to sit there and work for a couple hours and then go tee off. I know, it’s strange that it takes that, but I’m coping to it and I’m telling you that it’s highly effective, all right?
Next, by Steve Blanc, Stanford Professor, retired entrepreneur and founder of the Lean Startup movement. His advice; quit cold turkey. So, this guy was in the gaming business. He invented video games at his previous company. And he found himself addicted to his own games and he would often play until 4:00 AM. And he realized one day that it was kind of ruining his life and compromising his family time. So, he quit cold turkey and reports that he’s never played again 20, 30 years ago. He’s talking about this story where he just left the video gaming world behind.
Here’s a quote from the story,
“A study published in the journal, PLOS One even found that digital addictions can shrink the amount of white matter at certain brain sites, creating changes similar to those seen in alcohol, cocaine, and methamphetamine addictions. The devices started out as tools and ended up as drugs for most people,” says Blanc.
“App manufacturers are incentivized to make us addicted. I’ll contend that a ton of social media is actually a lot like oxy content.”
That’s the often-abused prescription drug.
Next, Ethan Cross, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory at the University of Michigan. What’s up with that? That would be a cool place to meet a prospective partner, wouldn’t it? If the guy or girl is hanging out at the Emotion and Self-Control Laboratory, hey, you have a pretty good headstart on the potential for healthy relationship dynamics as we talk about even in the first Mia Moore show. Emotional self-stability being the number one relationship attribute. That’s from Chris Gauge at the medium.com, also.
So, Dr. Cross says, “After studying Facebook and finding out that the biggest users of Facebook were those that were the least satisfied with life.” This is not opinion. This is results from scientific studies. Dr. Cross decided to refrain from any social media use. But, he still checks his email more often than he’d like to. “It’s a self-control failure from a self-control expert,” he says. Hey, he’s coping to it, also. Appreciate that. Props, man.
Here’s his suggestions to manage your email, create an email system. Number one, he likes to use those new technologies for group projects. You’ve maybe heard of Slack or Basecamp where instead of your email inbox, you’re working with a group of people on a particular topic and you can easily categorize these things. I don’t know, man. I’ve had a tough time with this because I’m trying to manage my inbox and then I have to go manage something that’s very similar to an inbox on a different app, and it creates a lot of extra stress when I see those Basecamp notifications. I don’t know a great answer to this, but it seems for many people that could be beneficial.
Another thing he suggests, is to use the snooze function in Gmail. Didn’t even know this existed. Just found out about it. Where you can hit a button and snooze the message and check on it later. This too, I am a little hesitant about that concept. It seems like it’s ripe for abuse where you just hit snooze a bunch of times and then you have 100 snoozed emails. I don’t know, maybe it can work in certain circumstances.
Then, finally he has an email free device. So, kind of echoing the comments from Dr. Ariely about having that one hour a day of good, honest work. He has an iPad, so he can actually read stuff but doesn’t load up his email app on there. Nice. Okay.
Dr. Jean Twenge. Hopefully, I pronounced that right. I pride myself on doing so. Researcher and Professor of Psychology at San Diego State, and the author of IGen; a book about how the internet is changing young adults. Twenge talks about some issues, some problems she had using Twitter.
“It’s a public forum and I felt a compulsion to defend my arguments, but is that the right response? I don’t know. For my own mental health, I know that it’s not.”
End quote and then back to the story. As an academic with a book to promote, Twenge felt like she had to. After six months with the service, however, with Twitter, Twenge noticed that she was increasingly giving in to a compulsion to check up on conversations that were making her miserable with the haters. The haters be ruining your life, so forget it. “It completely consumed why I don’t have social media.” And the story goes on to say that she still uses it occasionally for conveying news and updates and promotions, but not going in that back and forth with the haters.
You know, I’ve never really done that. I don’t think I have any haters maybe. Is that why? I don’t know. Send me some hate mail if you want. But I’ve never really engaged back and forth in a digital manner. It just seems really distasteful, and I suppose if you have an issue with somebody that’s pretty serious or that you care what they think about you, you should probably pick up the phone or go talk to them in person. The great podcast I had with Martin Bronze on the Get Over Yourself Channel, whether it’s before or after this show, I don’t know. But he established these wonderful firm rules as the CEO of Interwoven, the company that he presided over in Silicon Valley.
Here it was,
“New hires got this and it was reminded to us at the all employee meetings frequently that email was to be used for the exchange of facts only. Anything that had a bit of opinion or possible contention was needed to be handled by phone per corporate rules and guidelines issued by the CEO. And anything that was of a sensitive nature, potentially emotional or contentious, was to be handled in person.”
Email facts only. Phone for exchange of opinions and in person, for anything that’s potentially emotional or contentious. And to stick to those rules and to enforce it for the whole company, fabulous idea, right?
So, for all of us, if you got some haters going on back and forth on email … and really, we notice that hiding behind that cloak of electronic, curtain of Oz, we have a tendency to be not on our best behavior.
Now, I was teasing a little by saying I don’t have any haters. People honk at me sometimes on the road when I engage in a manner that they don’t appreciate. But I’ve received plenty of constructive or otherwise feedback on the podcast that I recorded over the past five years for Primal Blueprint, Primal Endurance and this one. And my favorite thing to do is to disarm a person dispensing critical feedback by saying, “Hey, I know you just sent me some criticism, but I really appreciate you taking the time. First of all, whatever you had to say, you took the time to write me an email and it’s in my interest to absorb it and evaluate it. And I might think you’re full of shit,” I’m not going to say that. But it’s like I still appreciate someone writing me and having that much interest and care to offer their opinion.
Once people are sufficiently thanked and appreciated, often, the conversation turns in a positive direction. And this is email, you know, going back and forth, then the person will answer back with, “Oh, I didn’t mean to come off so harsh. But anyway, thanks for doing a great show.” “And I accept your apology for squeezing in some profanity on some of the rap songs that I sing to kick off the show.” So, that kind of exchange is what I’m talking about.
Okay, back to the experts. This is a breather show after all. So, we don’t want to be here forever, right?
Dock your gadget and walk away. Dr Eric Peper, Professor at San Francisco State, President of the Biofeedback Federation of Europe, he explores the impact of excessive phone use that makes us feel lonely and also the bad posture brought on by staring at screen. He makes a point of keeping his phone at a distance. He puts it in his backpack instead of his pocket when he’s walking around. When he gets home, he plugs it in, not in the bedroom, but somewhere else in the house.
Love that idea except for a lot of people are using their phone as an alarm or otherwise near the bedside. So, if you’re having your phone anywhere near your head, keep it as far away as possible and absolutely positively put it in airplane mode or at least turn off the Wi-Fi and the Bluetooth at night-time.
Yeah, the EMF thing is an issue, huh? Have you heard about it? The potential scare of the electromagnetic fields coming from your device, coming from your wireless connections? Dr Joe Mercola has huge concerns on this issue, and he’s a highly respected health authority, so we want to pay attention. Dr. Peper himself admits that the data is “weak and controversial”, but I believe in the precautionary principle which says that you must first prove something totally safe before you can use it. Okay.
I remember Dave Asprey offering up an insight on one of his shows where, he did a bone scan and the bone density in his right hip was significantly less than in his left hip believing because he kept his digital device in his right pocket for years and years. So, that’s some scary stuff – if you got lower bone density in your phone pocket, ish.
Okay. The second reason to keep your phone at a distance per Dr. Peper … Sorry, I mean his name is P-E-P-E-R. So, Dr. Peper, I guess he’s got to roll with it. Delicious, refreshing – I forget the logo, the slogan. Anyway, Dr. Peper says, it’s also a distraction. “The phone hijacks our evolutionary patterns. We don’t do good with multitasking.” So, if you’re writing an article and every five minutes you pop back to answer a message, you’re going to be much less productive in the long-term.
Ouch, thank you for the poke in the ribs Dr. Peper, that’s me. I have a tendency to engage with email too frequently during the day when I’m trying to focus on a peak performance task. Sometimes, I offer up the excuse to myself, no one else listening, saying that, “Oh, I need a little break from writing, so I can go browse through emails.” But it’s an absolutely terrible idea per the experts, probably per all of us who can nod our heads in agreement, that a frenzied frenetic day with numerous windows open and numerous spinning plates going is way more stressful and fatiguing than, for example, a day of meetings in the conference room, where we’re going slide by slide through a presentation or anything else that’s more single dimensional. I didn’t say it wasn’t boring because a lot of beatings are boring, but they’re much less stressful to the brain, huh? Okay.
Then finally, some offerings from Dr. Peper, he says, “There are very few things that are truly urgent.” It’s different if you’re a firefighter or let me put a plug in for my sister who delivers babies as a family physician. So, she needs her phone by her bed with the ringer on really loud. How about you? You have a relevant excuse, like maybe someone going into labor while you’re sleeping? Didn’t think so. So, yeah, firefighters can have the alarm bells. Emergency workers, health workers, of course, need to be available if they’re on call. Other than that, man turn that thing off.
Okay, Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT; a service that lets you program your apps and smart devices to carry out rote tasks. He says, “Eliminate email on your phone. I don’t like being a slave to email and having it up at all times,” on his mobile device. Yeah, that’s a pretty good point. I never thought about that. I kind of like clearing my inbox when I’m standing in line at the bank or otherwise have downtime at the airport gate when I have 12 minutes before they’re going to call my row on Southwest Airlines, that kind of thing. But this guy makes a good point when he says, “I would rather spend an extra hour in the evening responding to email than to be distracted by it off and on throughout the day.”
All right, but please, if you’re one of those people that wants to batch your emails, don’t write those pandering, self-important auto messages like, “Hey guys, thanks for the email. I only check my emails between the hours of 4 and 5:00 PM.” It just sounds a little hottie to me. I’m sorry. I apologize if I have offended anyone. Same with the disclaimer that some important people say about how many thousands of messages and it’s so impossible to answer each one.
So, please be forewarned. I don’t even like when companies do that, like Apple or whoever. It’s like, come on. If you’re a busy, important, famous big company, I’d rather just make the assumption that I might not hear from you rather than having it stuck in my face right away. Just my personal preference, huh?
Okay, almost done. Trying to stick with the mission of the breather show, but Ali Brown, entrepreneurial consultant and host of Glambition; a podcast for women in business, says, “Swap out the brain rotting apps for ones that enrich.” So, she dumped her Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and replaced them on her phone with apps from Wall Street Journal and New York Times. “I decided to pay for some really good journalism. I’ll use my time to read that instead of these social media apps.” Pretty interesting.
Hmm. Okay. A quick summary of the tips. Give yourself one honest hour of work each day before you fire up your browser and email.
Quit cold turkey if you find yourself addicted and it ruining your life.
Create an email system and stick to it; the snooze function, the group project applications or email free devices.
Take breaks as necessary. Long breaks as necessary, including the professor Twenge from San Diego State who got off Twitter because she was fighting with the haters.
Dr. Peper says, “Dock your gadget far away. Keep it at a safe distance. Put it in your backpack instead of your pocket. Watch out for the electromagnetic fields.”
Linden Tibbets says, eliminate email on your phone. So, when you’re standing in line at the bank, hey, let your mind wander. Do some daydreaming instead of constantly being a slave to the inbox.
Ali Brown says, swap out the brain rotting apps for ones that enrich. So, she’s going with good media sources rather than social media stuff.
Oh, and I forgot one Dr. Adam Alter says, schedule moments of disconnection. So, he’s going into airplane mode on the weekends and taking his phone out to take pictures of his young children without interruptions from emails or other needy platforms.
Thank you for listening to the breathers show. Hopefully, this brings more awareness to the role of the phone in your life, making it work for you rather than being a slave to it.
[Brad Kearns’ Singing 00:24:09-00:24:39]
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Thank you for listening.