TIME TO disconnect
Do you sweat without your smartphone or tablet? Let go for a few minutes and pick up some expert advice on how to stop technology from ruling your life
Our world is now a much smaller place, with everything a mere click away. We receive emails on our phones so we are contactable 24/7. We find ourselves plugged into a movie or a game, and get absorbed in it so much that nothing else matters. Even extramarital affairs begin with an SMS!
You’d think we’d be more in tune with another person’s thoughts and feelings with today’s technology (emoticons don’t really count), but it is one of the reasons why we fail to connect with them entirely.
THE PROBLEM WITH PRONTO
“It’s not the texting and games that’s causing the problem, but our addiction and urge to respond to our phones immediately,” explains Julia Ng, a professional certified coach, Reiss profile master and senior executive coach at the Executive Coach International. “We’re constantly checking our phones, and this has become a culture.”
While many educators and parenting experts suggest keeping young children away from these gadgets, Julia feels the deprivation is unnecessary. “Teach your kids to recognise that there is a time and place for everything. And to do that, we, as adults, must set that example.”
MAKE TIME OUT
Family time in the evenings can be more meaningful if we ignore our gadgets for a couple of hours. But if everyone can’t do without their iPhone and/or iPad, Julia offers a few ideas: “Create online activities to bring the whole family together. Have a gaming night or a conference call with the grandparents, or learn trivia from the Internet.”
USE IT APPROPRIATELY
Bosses acknowledge that employees are not obligated to respond immediately after office hours. In turn, we have to spend our working hours wisely by not logging on to Facebook or WhatsApp. “Develop a healthy relationship with your mobile devices by downloading applications that add convenience to your life, and help you be more effective and efficient. Even games and puzzle apps can improve our strategic and mental ability,” observes Julia, who reads one good article from an e-zine app daily.
“The definition of ‘a prompt reply’ is
ambiguous. Does it mean seconds, an hour or three hours? This should be specified,” says Julia.
“Most people expect a reply by noon to an email sent in the morning. As the urgency to act on something increases, it moves from email to SMS to a phone call.” The solution? “Indicate your status. For example, you can activate an out-of-office response.”
Also try to respond to emails two or three times a day. “When lunching with a friend, be with the person and not on your phone. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of meeting up. If you must take a call or message, politely excuse yourself and end the call quickly. It’s usually fine to tell the caller that you’re engaged and arrange to call back at an agreed time.”
COLD TURKEY EXPLAINED
But Julia admits to feeling anxious herself when she’s away from her smartphone. For her, it’s the thought of all those unread messages piling up. For others, it’s procrastinating from doing more important chores. “We only suffer withdrawal when we are not engaged in meaningful and important things. You’ll find that once you’re fully engaged in a task, like playing with your children, you’ll stop thinking about your phone.”