Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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10 Ways to Get Back Your Gaps

June 8, 2012

In the last article, we talked about how completely we are losing the very few gaps we have in our days. Cell phones seem to have placed the final nail in our coffins when it comes to being creative, innovative and meditative.

Creators of the Windows Phone, instead of trying to ignore their impact, used it as a marquee for their advertising campaign. Remember this ad:

Now it’s time to fight back. Here are ten ideas (some of them are mine while I also gleaned and stole from smarter people) to give us more spaces, more gaps to reflect and breathe in our technology-saturated lives.

1. Have a technology Sabbath once a week: Have one day a week where you do not turn on a computer, television, phone or any other interactive gadget. I actually don’t think most of you can do it. Prove me wrong.

2. Turn off your phone when you are speaking with other people. If you cannot turn it off, turn it to a setting where it is totally silent and cannot interrupt you. One of our most important categories of “gaps” are those where our minds interact with the minds of other people.

3. Have set times in the day when you engage with technology. In other words, reverse the pattern. Right now, we schedule in things that do not directly involve technology (appointments, engagements, projects, to-do lists) and then allow tech stuff to interrupt. And it does. Why not schedule  your tech times? Have three “email slots” per day, 3 “text message” times a day, 3 “Internet” times per day. Then, the rest of the day make those media unavailable.

4. While in the car, do not turn on the radio or answer the phone. Let the flow of traffic, with its repetition, carry you away to other thoughts.

5. Do nothing automatically involving Tech. Do not automatically go to Facebook when you sit down at your desk. Do not automatically bring your laptop to the breakfast table. Switch it up.

6. Only turn on your computer to use it for a task. Then turn it off. This prevents you from meandering to the 10 billion distractions the Internet offers.

7. For one week, record exactly how much you used each piece of technology. Carry a $1 notepad in your pocket to record these events. At the end of the week, be chagrined and hate that gap-taking, mind-sucking tech-barrage.

8. Get a dumb phone. No Internet and pay instead for every text message. Unless you are under 18…you don’t need an $800 bill from Verizon for text messages.

9. Have a partner who asks you regularly if you’re finding gaps in your day. Choose someone who has one or more of these characteristics:

a. Someone you don’t want to disappoint.

b. Someone who is annoying and relentless

c. Someone who also wants to regain gaps in their day.

Hey, it works for weight loss, it can work for gap acquisition.

10. Reward yourself at the end of every week for how much you were able to resist the tech incursion. If  you honestly did well, give yourself a treat that does not involve more tech stuff: massages, waterslide, new clothes, golf course etc.

I would be thrilled to hear ideas you have. Let’s help one another.

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Filling in All the Gaps with Technology

June 7, 2012

For years I’ve had the displeasure of explaining to people exactly what it means to have Attention Deficit Disorder. While I don’t consider having ADD to be a problem anymore, there are many people who pay me sideways glances, as if trying to detect some hidden psychoses buried in all of my behavior. Such is life. I’ve learned to be quite content with the constant challenge of focusing on the task ahead and not allowing it to meander away to a colorful bauble.

Therefore, I take pointed interest when I read that most people in our culture over the last three or four years have developed a type of ADD. This problem does not originate in their biology but from their environment.

In a recent blog entry by Joe Kraus he points out that most people now have a unhealthy relationship with their cell phones. He observes, “I don’t think I have a healthy relationship with mine. I feel a constant need to pull it out – to check e-mail, to cruise the Internet, to see if there is something interesting happening right now. It’s constantly pulling on my attention. There are studies that have been shown recently where people have reported at a rate of 35% that they check their phone before they even get out of bed in the morning. Do you do this? I do. If I let it, it easily fills up those gaps in my day – some gaps of boredom, some of solitude.”

Another study has shown that the average teenage girl – mind you, we are talking about the average girl; some girls do more – uses her cell phone to text an average of 4000 times a month. That equals one text for every 8 min. of waking time. The number is only slightly less for boys; 3000 texts per month.

What this means is that cell phones,  televisions, video games, computers, MP3 players, tablets are filling up every gap in every moment and every day of our lives. We interpret this to mean we are able to do more with our brains.  But here’s the truth: we are constantly teaching our brains to be distracted by every piece of information and data that comes within observing distance.

Krause goes on to point out  this may have some kind of evolutionary roots to it. He notes that over the centuries it is the Hunter/Gatherer who was constantly wary of danger from every direction that lived when something dangerous decided to attack. Those who are not easily distracted by swiftly moving things in the peripheral vision don’t live very long when they’re out in the wild. He postulates that our surviving ancestors were able to keep living by becoming good at distraction. Whether or not you accept the validity of evolutionary roots to anything or not, it should be obvious that we are becoming more and more distracted in everyday life.

So who cares?

Most psychologists who study the concepts of creativity and insight observe that the majority of our most creative moments happen when we are not keeping our minds busy on many things. Those momentary “gaps” in our day are crucially necessary to tie together many of the loose ends that will eventually join to form a creative thought or mindset. Without those gaps, we never really see the bigger picture. As Krause says, “…gaps used to happen all the time. Now they’re disappearing. You’re eating lunch with a friend and they excuse themselves to the restroom. A gap. Now you check your phone because being unstimulated makes you feel anxious. Waiting time in a line at the bank? Used to be a gap. Now it’s an opportunity to send e-mail or text”.

So what can we do about this? I really think the number one answer is overcoming this dread of these gaps. Is it possible for you to embrace those moments of reflection, those unexpected times with nothing to do? If you can build in habit of allowing your day to have a lot more gaps than it presently has, it is more than likely you will be able to hear what has been rumbling around in the far corners and recesses of your mind. For those who are followers of God these gaps are the moments when Holy Spirit can come in and tie together all the loose ends of the things that his voice have been trying to indicate to you.

What then will you do? In the next two articles, we’ll explore how to make room for more gaps and how to utilize them to bring good mental health to your life.

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