8 Ways to Use Technology to Tune-In, Not Tune-Out

Your powerful peace actions:
→ Live mindfully Do what makes your heart sing

Meditation is the ultimate mobile device; you can use it anywhere, anytime, unobtrusively.” – Sharon Salzberg


Ugh, that feeling of overwhelm. You know the one. You have too much to do and not enough hours in the day, so you’re constantly on the run, constantly two steps behind, and constantly exhausted.

Lately, extra demands from my day job have left me feeling as though I’ve been hit by what author Tim Feriss calls, “a time famine.”

I don’t have enough hours in my day to write more blog posts, finish that e-book, or advance my French skills.

But when I look closer at my day, I don’t see a time famine – I see that I waste away a lot of my free time.

I’m often exhausted during my bits of free time, and I want to tune-out by shutting my mind off with a trip down Pinterest lane. Then as I’m getting ready for bed, that scarce feeling of time famine sets in because my day wasn’t productive enough.

I’m guessing that if you’re overworked and exhausted, you also grab your nearest device and tune-out while your brain recharges.

It’s a fine means of escapism until your precious slice of free time has been squandered away by clicking through Facebook photos of a former classmate that you haven’t spoken to in 15 years and never really liked.

Unfortunately, we live in a time where we place an unfair amount of pressure on ourselves to achieve a lot in a day, and we have constant “smart phone-type” distractions designed specifically to get us addicted.

So how do you force yourself to tune-in and be present when you’re utterly exhausted and just want to tune-out?

Read on, and I’ll tell you.


Human evolution

I live in Europe, and I’ve seen trends start in Europe and migrate to the States (e.g. the Spice Girls), and trends start in the U.S. and migrate to Europe (e.g. the hash tag).

As an American, it’s always difficult to watch [what I consider] negative trends being exported from the U.S. to other parts of the world. And unfortunately I’m seeing one now.

I’ve observed on my trips to the U.S. particularly in the past five years that people’s noses are getting lost deeper and deeper into their hand-held devices.

I recall the first time I saw a group of people seated at a restaurant in Washington, DC all reading their blackberries and not saying a word to one another. It was shocking to me at the time because I wasn’t used to seeing that level of tune-out at the dinner table before. Now, of course, it’s quite normal.

And in the past few years I’ve noticed this trend begin to migrate across the Atlantic Ocean as more and more Europeans are tuning out their surroundings with their noses in a device.

I’m not saying all electronic devices are bad. I have them and use them. The trick is to use your device to make your day more productive, not to tune-out loved ones, more productive or joyful activities, or the beautiful things that may be occurring around you.

The key lesson I’ve learned is that tuning-in to the activities that bring you joy alleviates feelings of overwhelm while giving you more energy. And tuning-out to cyberspace for long periods of time is an exhausting time zapper.

Take Action! In a previous blog post, I offered 5 steps to prevent modern gadgetry from robbing you of peace. Click here to read.

The following are 8 additional ways to help you alleviate overwhelm and refuel your energy by using technology to tune-in, and not tune-out:

Use the timer on your device

When you get home from a long day and your brain is fried, there’s no sense in forcing yourself to your computer to work on your novel. You need and deserve some downtime. Allow yourself a set amount of time to tune-out.

I allow myself 45 minutes to watch non-educational TV or to surf whatever mindless drivel comes up on my iPad. And when the timer chimes, I put my remote and device down and chuck them away in a place that is out of sight.

By allowing yourself a set amount of time to zone-out zombie style without judgment, you’re allowing yourself to unwind and relax, so you can return to more present and productive activities.

→Analyze your days

Pay attention to when you’re most productive and most exhausted. If you’re most productive first thing in the morning, go to bed earlier and get up earlier to do the things that require your most concentration and mental energy.

Download the Sleep Cycle app to your device to help you wake up more refreshed. Sleep Cycle monitors signals from your body to wake you softly when you are in the lightest possible sleep state.

Reserve your tune-out time for the time of the day where you’re most exhausted and in need of a will power refuel.

→Make a list of the activities you want to be doing in your free time (the ones that bring you joy) on your device’s notepad

Input the activities you’d most love to be doing in your free time in your notepad: a language you’ve been dreaming to learn, an exotic trip you’ve been wanting to plan, or a creative projects you’ve been yearning to finish.

Review this list every day, so you can begin to incorporated these activities into your daily/weekly routine.

→Create action lists and reminder messages

Once you know what you’d rather be doing in your spare time than zoning out on YouTube, start doing it!

Each morning when you wake up, write down no more than 2 action items you want to do in your free time for that day. Then, add your action items to your device’s calendar set with a reminder to ping you at the exact time of day you want to be doing said task.

That way if you find yourself immersed in celebrity gossip sites the ping can serve as gentle reminder to get out your saxophone and start practicing.

Another great tip is to sign up for lessons. If you want to learn how to salsa, sign up for lessons on Tuesday nights. You may be exhausted when you arrive to class, but after two hours of shaking your bootie you’ll feel revitalized.

→Download “how to” books of your activities from your public library (or better yet check-out the paper copies)

More and more public libraries are expanding their digital media to include an impressive selection of e-books.

Reading is an excellent way to unwind in the evening and leaves with you a more productive feeling than Internet surfing or watching TV. And if you’re trying to learn a new skill or master an existing one, reading books on those topics is a good way to get your passion stirred.

If you want to purchase a new book, check out Indie Bound to find an independent bookstore nearest you.

→Create an app.

I got this tip from Michelle who left a comment on a blog I wrote titled, “How to Listen to Your Intuition Even When You’re Too Busy to Hear.” Click here to read. She created an app on her smart phone to record her intuitive insights.

If you’re trying to grow a spectacular vegetable garden, create an app on your smart device that lists your action items, your progress, and new ideas.

→Go outside

More and more experts have been pointing to the fact that both adults and children the world over are spending too much time indoors. Summer is coming and the days are getting longer(!). So, if you’re exhausted in the evening, put away your tuning-out devices and go for a walk or take a bike ride through nature. Connecting with trees, plants, and animals also has an energy producing effect.

In short, get as far away from all technological devices as possible.

→Allow yourself a set time during the week to tune-out completely

Identify the time of the week where you tend to be the most mentally exhausted (for me it’s Friday evenings) and allow yourself a complete zone out. Watch your favorite sitcoms or play a few rounds of Words with Friends.

Just let yourself unwind without judgment. If you’ve been mindful and tuned-in during most of the week, you’ll feel as though you earned some tuning-out time.

Take action! Start spending more of your day tuned-in to the activities that make your heart sing and less of your day tuned-out to Newsfeeds. See how it miraculously creates more time in your day and leaves you more revitalized.

Your thoughts? What activities make your heart sing? What have you done to stay tuned-in? Post a comment below.


4 replies
  1. Jean
    Jean says:

    Excellent article, Allyson – way to break it down. I enjoyed the appropriate links to other articles I might have missed too… Thanks for a good read this morning.

  2. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Wow. As someone who just finished a grueling deadline yesterday, many of your suggestions are so timely and inviting. I’m going to pick up that book I have half read, spend time in a bubble bath, and reach out to some friends I’ve been missing. Those handheld devices we all have and use do not give me any of that comfort or peace of mind. Thank you for bringing back to the forefront!

    • Allyson
      Allyson says:

      Thanks for the comment. I’m happy to hear this post was timely. Great to hear you’re getting some time to unwind and relax. You deserve it!!

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