This is Part 6 in the Apt Design 2011 Ebook Series – Creating Work/Life Balance.
Click here to get the book and see the whole series.
Finding time away from work used to be about “unplugging.” No more. Now we have numerous ways we can be literally “unplugged” while still be hooked into the stream of information, media and ideas that compromise our current internet and media. Now something pulls us in more than the plug – the ubiquitous screen. You probably don’t even realize how much time you spend in front of a screen, and that’s a problem.
The Ever-Present Screen
Screens are all around us and they follow us through every part of our day. Many people wake up to a screen – whether it be their cell phone or a tv. Morning shows dominate many pre-work routines. At work more and more of us are spending all day at a desk – staring at a great big screen. And even if its not at a desk laptops make it easy to take our work screens anywhere. For some of us staring at a screen is about all we do at work.
Once we’re done with work, we want to relax unwind. Enter the screen. TVs are on all the time in some houses, and everyone can relate to just wanting to veg in front of TV or a movie. Video games are more interactive but require even more attention on the screen. As ereaders take off in the marketplace even reading a good book is becoming dominated by a screen.
This isn’t to mention the ever-present screen in our pockets – our cell phones that force us to look at a screen to do anything on it. And look at it we do – checking our phone tens or even hundreds of times a day.
I think you’re getting the point, and you may be able to think of even more screens you use that I haven’t mentioned. The screen is everywhere.
Now, this post might be coming off so far as anti-technology, anti-screen. That’s not how I mean it. All these screens I mentioned have good reasons for being in our life – that’s why we put them there in the first place!
I think the problem comes when we don’t realize how much time we spend in front of screens. Screens are an awesome conduit into something else. But we need to realize that as we engage them we are unengaging (to some degree) that which is really around us.
This whole thought comes from very personal experience. When I first thought about screen time and how much of my day is spent in front of one screen or another I was staggered. I still don’t have all the answers for what to do about screen time, but just being aware has made me more conscious as I choose what to do with my time.
Engage in Real Life
An important part of this work/life balance discussion is about taking control of our decisions to make our lives the best they can be. Realizing how much time you spend screened-in is just another piece in that decision-making process. You are limiting yourself in that decision if your immediate reaction to free time is to move to a screen. You can choose to get away from the screen for a time and engage in real life happening around you with real people.
Give your eyes and your brain a chance to relax. Give your mind something different. Spend time in real, personal relationships with people you can reach out and touch. Go outside, engage with nature. Do something active and physical. There are thousands of things that don’t involve a screen. Want to spend time doing something else besides watching a screen? The choice is yours.
Do This Now:
This can be a tough realization to have. First of all just spend the next week being conscious of your screen time. How you choose to change that time in the next week is up to you.