A popular trend these days is bashing technology. We lament how technology has taken over our lives, how we no longer ever have a conversation, we just text. We judge those people who can’t seem to ever put their phones down. Well, I’m not going to do that. Technology, and the distraction that comes with much of technology, is a fact of our existence these days. Much of it is extremely good and helpful. For some people it becomes a negative force in their lives. For others it becomes an obsessive, addictive force. Personally, I drift all over from positive to obsessive. It’s a constant struggle for me. Because of this, I have developed my own personal hacks that help me combat my internal compulsion to fill every moment with some sort of distraction.

I don’t like the feeling when I don’t have a moment to breathe because I have filled every moment with some form of noise. I know I am happier, more at peace, when I have space that is not filled up. Even knowing this, I still have to fight to keep all the different forms of technology in proper perspective. You may be like me; you may not. And so, depending on where you fall on this distraction spectrum and how urgent the need for change is for you, I offer up some simple, practical suggestions that you can take or leave, try or discard.

Regarding Speed and Distraction:

  • Drive with your radio off and your phone out of sight for an entire trip. Notice the world around you. Be quiet. Pray. Sing. Whatever you want to do.
  • Learn to use the car as a place to relax, perhaps even your own personal sanctuary. We all spend lots of time in our cars. Drive the speed limit. Don’t tailgate. Take your time.
  • Arrive early to appointments and enjoy not being rushed.
  • Limit the TV. A little TV can be a great wind-down tool. A lot of TV is more like a depressant, dulling us.
  • Read a book.
  • Wake up a little earlier so you can have a few extra minutes for God and for yourself.

Regarding your Smartphone:

  • Leave your phone in your car when you go in for meals.
  • Don’t bring your phone to meals at your house.
  • Charge your technology in a different room from where you sleep. You may have to buy an old-school alarm clock.
  • Install the app Moments, which tracks your cell phone usage by app. After a few weeks, this will help you figure out if you have a problem with too much smartphone usage.
  • Delete troublesome apps that tend to become obsessive for you from your phone or tablet. I have Facebook accessible on my computer, but not on my cell phone where I am more likely to pull it up incessantly.
  • Pick only one specific time each day when you will access social media.
  • Recover the practice of calling someone instead of texting them.
  • Pick up a book to read at night.
  • Make the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes of each day technology free.
  • Include your family or roommates or your mentor in your technology freedom efforts.
  • Use airplane mode as a disconnect tool.

Please don’t feel guilty. Sometimes we allow guilt to actually keep us from acting. We think feeling guilty is punishment enough. If distraction is not a problem for you, then reread last week’s post. If distraction is a problem for you, be brave, test out some of these hacks.  Try one or two. Baby steps often move us forward better than wholesale efforts at total transformation that tend to wither quickly. A little action trumps a lot of good intention.

What has worked for you in minimizing distraction? Comment below

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Fred Larmore says:

    Great post. I have found turning off the television and reading helps relaxing for sleep. But when under stress, nothing works better at giving me restful sleep than reading my Bible before turning off the light. It’s like coming home. I have also gotten comfortable turning my phone off when I do not want to be interrupted. What a feeling of freedom. It’s nice to focus on one thing, especially on the golf course. We can either control technology, or let technology control us. I am learning how to do the former. So far, I haven’t missed a thing.

  • Carol Wood says:

    If it’s baby steps you need, try turning off all sounds on your phone, no dings to distract you and others.

    Pray before picking up the phone each time. Let the Holy Spirit be your helper in changing.

    Pick only specific times to check your phone, sort of like your to do list.

    Thanks Tommy for some great ideas!

    • Thanks Carol! Baby steps are a lot better than good intentions left undone. Thanks for your additions!

    • Ryan Foster says:

      Carol – you mentioned disabling the sound… this is similar to what I’ve found very helpful as well. I went through my phone and disabled notifications for all but the very most important things. It’s amazing the liberation you feel from a silly device once you’ve told it to be quiet. haha!

  • Ralph Higgins says:

    Mowing the lawn.

    Volunteering.

    Teaching.

    Doing design work.

  • Susan Oldham says:

    Love this Tommy! Such great tips.
    We need to be “smarter” than our phones:)
    I tell young people… think first about living life instead of posting it!

    • That is so true. Watch any once-in-a-lifetime sporting event and see how many of the fans are watching the event through their phone so that they can capture it.

  • Richard Kemper says:

    I think the ideas of the car. I don’t ;listen to the radio in the car. I use that time being a Catholic to recite the Rosary. I do try to leave the cell phone in another room at bed time. Great advice . Thanks for sharing

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