Remember the “Crackberry”? When the Blackberry was popular, email was the main offender; social media hadn’t been invented.

We had no idea what was coming.

Enter the smartphone. This digital wonder constantly streams messages from many sources, demanding your attention. Your laptop is just as bad, with its overflowing Inbox and Twitter beckoning, just a tab away…

Who (or what) is in control here?

You may complain about tech’s temptations and interruptions, but do you try to control them? Or do you “go with the flow,” succumbing to the deluge of digital information? If it’s the latter…

You just might be a technology addict.

Here are six telltale signs:

  1. Getting a “buzz” from new devices and new information.
  2. Refreshing email more than once an hour — even when not expecting important messages.
  3. Asking Google whenever a question arises, no matter how trivial.
  4. Getting anxious when you’re out and your phone is running out of charge.
  5. An aching neck and upper back.
  6. Your spouse calls your laptop (phone, tablet, whatever) “the other man/woman.”

Tech addiction is no joke.


  • diminishes effectiveness by destroying focus
  • wastes time
  • interferes with original thinking and creativity
  • contributes to health problems, including sleeplessness, digestive upset, stress and headaches
  • can even damage relationships

As a busy professional, trying to absorb and act on the constant influx of new data can lead to digital burnout, which the Mayo Clinic describes as a “state of emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”

So, although you may absolutely need your technology to do your job, you also absolutely need to take a break from it — and set a few limits. Here are four ways to develop a more healthy relationship with the technology in your life:

1. Begin your day differently.

For starters, skip that morning digital check-in — it instantly puts your mind in overdrive, filling it with immediate demands that prevent you from focusing on your big picture for the day.

A better way to start off? Get your body moving. Do some light stretching; brush your teeth; play with your dog for five minutes. Once you’re fully awake, take stock of how you’d like your day to look before diving into your Inbox.

2. Put yourself on a schedule.

Instead of responding like some Pavlovian dog when your phone dings, discipline yourself. Check email no more than hourly and turn off notifications. You’ll spend less time reacting and more time in control of your day.

3. Focus on people.

Be mentally — not just physically — present. Whether it’s a meeting with your boss or dinner with someone you love, put the phone away. And keep it there.

4. Disconnect when you’re working on a project.

Eliminate distractions that lure you away from accomplishing productive work. When you need to focus, silence and hide your phone. Turn off chirping email audio notifications.

And if you need your computer to do high-focus work, close extra browser windows or programs that may sidetrack you. Or, try an app like Anti-Social to prevent yourself from accessing social media when working online.

5. Take a walk — and leave the phone behind.

Phones can actually create a barrier between you and whatever you’re doing, contaminating your experience and preventing your brain from doing its best work.

Make a conscious effort to cut the digital cord when you can. Ditch the phone, and you’ll realize that many of the resources you need to be your best self exist not online, but within your own mind.


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