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Be tech smart: deliberately engage and intentionally disengage

Published on July, 30th 2018
By Greg Wells

Sometimes, the biggest lessons we can learn really do come from kids.

My daughter Ingrid is eight, and she recently began using an iPad. My wife Judith and I know that we can’t shelter our kids from technology. We need to help them learn to use it productively. So we have established guidelines and Ingrid is learning the ins and outs of what most adults struggle with – being on and off a device.

When Ingrid and I drive somewhere, unless it is a long trip on vacation, the iPad is not a welcome passenger. Without fail, within a few minutes of sitting there, she will say, “Daddy, I’m bored.” To which I respond, “That’s great. I’m glad you’re bored. Perfect. Go with that.”

I say that because I know what happens next. First, she will be confused by what I mean, and then she will be really frustrated. That passes after a few minutes and she settles down. A minute or two later, she’ll sing or look out the window and say, “Hey, look at that building,” or whatever else she sees. She gets creative.

By forcing her into it, putting her in a car and driving somewhere without something to entertain her, she has to transition away from reacting to a device toward engaging her eight-year-old brain in imagining, thinking and creating.

The same effect occurs on a broader scale when our family goes on vacation. I know how important downtime is for everyone, so Judith and I try to get the four of us away for two weeks every quarter. We go somewhere to decompress and disconnect. It’s a huge investment of time, but it never fails to deliver.

After about five days of being disconnected, especially when we are in a jungle or at a beach, everyone settles. The kids get happier. They start to draw again. They go out and interact with nature. Their voices calm down. There is expansive conversation at the dinner table.

Most adults don’t ever make a conscious decision to disconnect. They are stuck in a perpetual state of device slavery that becomes habitual, compulsive and, ultimately, a drain on their resources and relationships.

The hack I use to resolve techno-creep is to switch back and forth from being deliberately engaged to being intentionally disengaged. Decide when you are “all in” on the technology and get full value out of it. Then, block out time to disconnect – to be completely unplugged – at least once a day and in longer chunks over months and years.

A good example of what I am talking about is Robin Sharma’s 90-90-1 formula. He recommends that you spend 90 minutes first thing in the morning, completely undistracted, for 90 days, working on the number one most important project in your life. 90-90-1. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a game changer.

Whether you use Robin’s method or some other approach, make sure you are being deliberate about opting in and out of techworld.

I hope you enjoyed this article!

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my book The Ripple Effect you can get it here!

And my new book – The Focus Effect – is available at this link.

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