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

Singapore Women's Weekly (Singapore) - - WOMEN SHARE - By SYLVIA ONG

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.


“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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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