Too Much Tech? How to Handle Gadget Overload

Oh, hi…um…I’ll be with you in a second…

I just have to send this email…and tweet this link…and text my husband…and post this on Facebook…and finish this game of Words With Friends…and download this ebook to my tablet…and shoot this zombie…

Sorry, this is going to take a while. Why don’t you call my cell, leave a voicemail, and I’ll get back to you in 3-5 days?

What? That won’t work for you? You actually want to interact with me in real life???

Well, OK. But I’m not happy about putting down my gadgets. I guess I’ll try a few of these ideas for finding balance in a tech-heavy world:

  • Instead of cutting back, try adding. If the idea of limiting your time online sounds daunting, focus instead on adding tasks to your day that encourage connecting with people in real life. Your schedule will become so crowded with meaningful interactions that you’ll have less room for time sucks.
  • Schedule family time. It may not feel fun or spontaneous to schedule family time (or couple time), but wouldn’t you rather spend time together instead of not seeing each other at all? Try scheduling family dinner every night, no exceptions, or plan a weekly family game night.
  • Choose a shut down time. Your day job ends at a certain time every day, right? (Please don’t be working all night!) Your time spent playing with your phone, video games, and your tablet should have an end time too. Try shutting down all electronics at 8:00 or whatever time works for you while still giving you a few hours for connecting with the people you love.
  • Set a timer. I do this a lot. I’ll goof off on Twitter or read blogs for 30 minutes, then I’ll read a book or write for 30 minutes. I have a little pink timer on my desk that keeps me focused.
  • Host a girls night. Invite your friends over for a night of yummy food, cool drinks, and hot gossip. Just one rule—all phones have to be turned off for the duration of the party. Imagine that, talking to your friends in person!
  • Get outside. I always feel better after a long walk. There’s something about being in nature, smelling the flowers, and feeling the sun on your face that can remind you that life is so much bigger than your laptop screen.

How do you prevent gadget overload?

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  1. Anna on March 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    OK, the add-more-to-your-schedule advice is like a comet flying at my head from miles away; I should’ve seen it coming but in my blissful ignorance I haven’t. So a HUGE thank you to you for opening my eyes here – this is the best way to get me away from my iPad/iPhone/laptop 😀 Mark my words – I’m doing it!

    A shutdown time is not always possible because I’m on call for my students even into later hours. I’m an early sleeper (usually) but I just can’t turn away a student in need. Organic chemistry is very difficult and they’re working too hard for me to ignore them. I need to be better at saying no but I love a challenge and I love that they care about it so much.

    On the bright side I don’t have Facebook, Twitter, or any other offending social networking account. Blogger doesn’t count – I’m hardly there anyway 🙂

    • Sage on March 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      You’re welcome, Anna! I love adding good things to my life (like date nights with Chris). I don’t even miss my laptop when I’m out enjoying myself.

      That’s great that you always make time for your students. You can pick what’s most important in your life and drop the stuff that isn’t. I’m sure they appreciate your help.

  2. Shybiker on March 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Smart advice. I hope you aren’t getting tired of me saying that, but it’s true.

    I’m glad I grew up before technology because it forced me to develop face-to-face skills. I’ve heard that some young people today are lacking in that area due to the ease and prevalence of mediated communication. That’s too bad. Being shy, I needed to be pushed into improving and if these alternatives existed then, I probably would have used them as crutches.

    There’s nothing better than time with friends in person. Can I come to your girls’ night out? I’ll bring food!

    • Sage on March 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm

      Of course you can come to my girls’ night! We’ll stay up late dancing, trying on clothes, playing games, and eating lots of desserts. Fair warning: I’m unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. 🙂

  3. Molly on March 14, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    I love that picture of you! lol So perfect with this post. 🙂

    All great advice, as usual. I’ve really cut down my tech time over the past half year, and it feels great!

    • Sage on March 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm

      Chris thinks I’m a weirdo, but I love it when my pictures match my content. Cutting down on tech time is another way to de-clutter your life (simplify!). I feel better on the days when I take long breaks away from my laptop.

  4. Megan Gann on March 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    The shutting down thing has really helped. I don’t shut off my Nook, but I do unplug everything else. I need to start doing it earlier, because it is easier to get to sleep.

    I heard of a great “game” while out with friends. Everyone leaves their phones on the table during dinner upside down in the middle of the table. Whoever picks up their phone first to look at it pays for dinner. If everyone leaves their phone alone, then everyone pays for their own dinner.

    I thought that sounded like a great idea because so many of my friends pick up their phones/stay on them the entire time we hang out. I’ve called ’em on it too, and they look bewildered that I expect them to put down the screens, unplug and talk to me with eye contact. Jeez.

    I wish I could meet more people IRL, I feel like I talk more with a keyboard to more people!

    Great post. Your blog has got to be one of my favorites. <3

    • Sage on March 14, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      Aw, thanks for the compliment. That makes me feel good when people get something out of my blog.

      It’s so rude when people play with their phones when they’re out with friends. I see it happening a lot. Why go out if you’re not going to look at me?

      I need to make more of an effort to meet people IRL. I feel like I’m always online some days…

  5. Cara on March 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Your picture is hilarious, and yet entirely accurate of most of our houses/lives. I think you raise really helpful, realistic tips for unplugging. I know when I stay on the laptop too close to bedtime I can’t go right to sleep. I also love the idea of hosting gatherings and asking people to disconnect while there. I may try that with some of my tech-obsessed friends.

    • Sage on March 14, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      I glad you like my pictures! I don’t actually look like that…most days. 🙂 Throwing a party is a great way to actually interact with your friends in real life.

  6. xvavaveganx on March 14, 2012 at 6:39 am

    Great post! Like everyone I am so guilty of being sucked into a technological time suck. I spend so much time on my phone, on social media sites, blogs, etc. This is on top of being on a computer all day at work! It is crazy!

    I used to teach communication courses in grad school and one of the first things we’d talk about in the intro course was about how technology is ruining face to face interaction. It’s so true and it is only getting worse. I try to balance it and I’m lucky that the gym is somewhere where I’m forced to unplug and when i work a wedding I also have a lot of interaction. I also treasure my girl time, as limited as it may be.

    As always you offer some great tips! As the weather gets warmer going outside will definitely be my number one favorite way to unplug! I’ve been craving that vitamin D lately.

    • Sage on March 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm

      I spend way too much time glued to my laptop. When you work from home, there’s less social interaction. I have to make a conscious choice to meet people in real life. I like going to the gym too because I can focus on what my body can do, even after sitting in a chair for hours.