An Astronaut’s Guide to Using Your Digital Devices, Probably

July 20 was the anniversary of the first moon landing. The mission was completed in 1969 with computers less powerful than your smartphone. (They almost killed Aldrin and Armstrong in the process but thats a different story.) Our phones have incredible potential for productivity. They also have potential for addiction. On average a person will spend three hours on their phone per day. They can help us get to our own metaphorical moon landing (our own big goals) except for one thing.

We’ve upgraded from moon landing software to software that is hardwired to our human need for habits – long lasting habits that are hard to break. Do you check social media moments after waking up in the morning? Do you reach for your phone every time you hear a notification? Do you feel physical discomfort when you forget your phone? I promise you Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong did NOT have this problem – and they went to the moon.

Digital addiction and focus fatigue are not totally your fault. Companies profit off of these habits and it’s in their best interest to keep you connected at all times. Now that you know, it’s in your hand to do something about it. Time is money (annoying but true). So would you rather pay Instagram three hours of your time or spend three hours working on your new business idea? Spending time with your friends? Working out? Reading a book?

You can use all that moon landing power to get you were you want to be. Here’s how:

Be Intentional – Make your digital devices work for you! Take the time to read or listen to supportive content. Supportive content helps you get closer to your personal goals. Things like project management tools, podcasts, templates and webinars for anything you can think of. If you find yourself getting sucked into the black hole scroll use an extension like Pause that forces you to take a few seconds to think about why you’re opening a distracting webpage. Also, schedule time to do those things you enjoy, like catching up on Instagram or your favorite Netflix show. In moderation distracting sites are fine. When you reach “Are you still watching?” you’ve gone too far.

Manage Usage – Unfortunately most distracting sites don’t have a warning sign because like I already said – they’re making money off your time. This is where time tracking and site blocking apps come in. These are tools you can use to set limits on how long you’re spending on specific sites. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing because you can personalize it to what your vices are. If your weakness is YouTube, you can cap your usage at 30 minutes. If know you do your best work in the morning, block distractions from 7-9am. You know what is best for your productivity. These tools just make it easier to set boundaries for yourself and your time.

Power Down – Yup. The simple-but-not-always-easy solutions are often the best. “But I need my alarm!” Go to Goodwill. “But I need to type!” Use offline mode. “But emails!” They can wait – stop making excuses. We were trained to “need” digital stimuli and the truth is we don’t. It’s just going to take some time to get there.

Power down and get to work. It’s time to go to the moon.

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