As Christians, we are called to be set apart from the world in everything we do, be it in business, our marriages, or the way we treat our kids. But what does it look like to be set apart with regard to how we use technology? This is something I have been praying and thinking about a lot in this new era. As a technology enthusiast, it hasn’t been easy. I have been convicted of my addiction to many of these technologies and have been made aware of the impact - both positive and negative - they have on my life. If you’re like me, you have seen how technology can make you less engaged, focused and calm. Here are 5 practical tips for unplugging from your favorite technologies.
- 1. Resist checking email “after hours.”
This is the hardest habit I have tried to implement in my life, which to me underscores its importance. For the past few weeks, I have made it a goal to not check email at all “after hours.” This doesn’t just apply to responding to email. No checking email. Period. For me, checking email is the surest way to get my mind back into work mode, thinking about what I have to do tomorrow. Nothing makes me less engaged at home. So I challenge you to give it a shot. For one week, refuse to check your email from the moment you leave your desk in the afternoon until you are back at your desk in the morning. I bet you will find that there’s not a single email that comes in during those hours that truly needs a response by morning. Furthermore, I bet the pay-off in your stress-level and level of engagement at home is more than worth it.
- 2. Keep your phone and computer out of site during quiet times.
I seem to always have my phone sitting on whatever table I am using, including my kitchen table where I do my quiet time. Even if I have my phone on silent, the push notifications from Twitter, Instagram or Facebook are sure to distract me. That’s why I always keep my phone face down on the table, ensuring that I can stay as focused as possible when I am spending time with the Lord. If you use your tablet to access great Bible apps like YouVersion™ during your quiet time like I do, just be sure to turn off notifications before you begin. By the way, this is a rule that I have implemented at all times during the day, not just my quiet times. It’s a great practice for focus.
- 3. Ruthlessly eliminate push notifications.
When a push notification goes off on your phone or your email client, what do you do? If you’re like most people, you habitually respond immediately to the visual or audible cue. It’s almost as if we are slaves to these productivity-killing cues. Over the past few years, I have gone on a ruthless pursuit of eliminating push notifications at work and at home. Fewer things have helped my level of stress more than eliminating distractions such as email pop-ups on my computer and audible notifications on my phone (aside from SMS, phone and calendar). Give it a shot. It’s guaranteed to make you a more attentive and more productive person at work and at home.
- 4. Actively seek silence.
Throughout Scripture, we see Godly men and women actively seeking silence in their lives. Jesus provided a perfect example of this as he frequently would get away from the noise of ministry to be alone with the Father. It’s never been more difficult to seek out silence than it is today. Our phones, tablets and computers ensure that noise is just a click away. But if we are to be set apart with how we use technology, I believe we must actively seek out silence in our lives. And yes, sometimes this means turning everything on mute. This year, I have been trying to set aside 15 minutes every morning to sit in total silence, allowing the Lord to speak to me before the day begins. It may seem strange, but if I am not intentional about seeking silence, my day and life will be filled with noise.
"Our phones, tablets and computers ensure that noise is just a click away. But if we are to be set apart with how we use technology, I believe we must actively seek out silence in our lives."Jordan Raynor
- 5. Have a no cell-phone family night.
Few things make my wife happier than when I leave my cellphone in the car or at home during date night. There’s no better way to ensure that you are eliminating distractions and focusing on your family than leaving the cellphones, iPods, tablets, etc. behind. Warning: doing this may cause phantom cell phone vibrations. If this occurs, you likely need to leave your cellphone behind more often.
Implementing these changes in your life will make you a happier, more engaged person. It has for me. But more importantly than that, much of this is biblically based as we are reminded in Psalm 46:10, “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Try This At Home: Simply build or purchase a “Check-In Station”.
Using a central location for your family’s devices will help everyone focus on each other during family time and will give your mind a much needed break from technology.