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Ohh! Technology! a damn Beast.

It's a crazy, love-hate relationship we have with technology. It fascinates us; it confounds us. It solves problems; it causes problems. It saves time; it steals time. We're lost without it; weI get lost inside it. It steals our attention; it provides instant answers. It entertains us, it angers us. It educates us, it blinds us. It helps us, it harms us.

It's been more than 25 years since the Internet became a commonplace thing, starting with electronic mail in basic DOS. Since then, we individually have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on smartphones, smart TVs, smart watches, smart cars, smart doorbells, smart cars, and more. How amazing it all is, and yet how obsessed we've become with it all. Most technology is now commonplace and necessary. But sometimes technology becomes a wild beast, too easily allowed to get out of control and do more harm than good.

Take our cell phones. We are attached to our phones, physically or wirelessly, to get messages, emails, weather alerts, news updates, calendar reminders, delivery notifications, answers, directions, wake-up alarms. We use our phones to read books, do math, manage contacts, track the kids, play music, store coupons, log work time, manage money, see what friends are up to, find creative inspiration, keep golf scores, get a laugh, store boarding passes, play games, watch movies, take pictures, keep to-do lists, listen to podcasts, access health records. You name it. We can do pretty much everything on our phones except eat and bathe. It's no wonder we're so attached.

Most of these are good reasons to be attached. But when does an attachment become unhealthy? When it's the reason you don't get things done. When it prevents you from being productive or active, or when it's causing unbalance and unhappiness. How do we manage a beast we can't live without?

First realize that there's a beast in the room.

Then make a plan to contain it. A beast needs strict boundaries. Here are 7 steps to take to set those boundaries.

  1. Remind yourself that a beast is not a pet. It's wild. A beast needs boundaries to keep you safe. A beast on the loose can harm us.

  2. Recognize what happens when the beast gets on the loose. >> How does it get out? [Answer an email > click on an ad > shop. Played a game > lost > play again > "I can do better next time" > play again > etc.] >> When it's out, what does the beast trample on? [Work, activities, cleaning, projects, errands] >> Who else might be harmed when it's out? [Spouse, friends, others] >> How do you feel when the beast is out? [Hyper, addicted, frustrated, anxious, cornered, guilty]

  3. Determine how bad the beast is for you. How is the beast affecting your overall physical, mental, and spiritual health? Here's a rating system to decide: 1 = The beast has boundaries, and it is well contained. You lead a very well-balanced life, and you are very happy. 2 = The beast gets out of its cage fairly often, but you can corral it back in easily. You are fairly balanced and happy, and if not, it's due to other circumstances. 3 = The beast gets out often, and you let it wander. You know it's doing damage, but you tell yourself you're totally fine even though you know it's causing damage. 4 = The beast has boundaries but they are not enclosed. A boundary on only one side (like when you're sleeping), is not a boundary. 5 = The beast has no boundaries. You are so blindly in love with the beast that you don't care what it destroys. You're not in the real world. The beast is your world.

  4. Recognize the nature of a beast. A beast is not domesticated until you tame it. Until then, it can easily get out of its cage.

  5. Put the beast's boundaries in writing. >> When and where you need to have boundaries set >> How you will recognize when the beast is pushing up against its boundaries >> What you will do to contain it and refocus to healthy goals >> Decide under what circumstances you will unlock the boundaries

  6. Set goals to get to #1. If you are at 5, make changes to get to 4. If you are at 4, shoot for 3. And so on until you get to 1. Or better yet, go "cold turkey" and get to 1 now.


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