I’ll admit it — I’m a reluctant tech user. I understand the many benefits of interconnectivity, and yet there is a part of me that just wants to leave it all behind, live on a tiny little farm in the middle of Idaho where I can keep bees and grow vegetables; basically, live life off the grid.

The reasons for this are many: too much screen time messes with your circadian rhythm (the blue light from your device makes your body think it’s always daytime), your posture suffers from leaning forward and typing for hours on end, and our memories are increasingly stored on devices instead of in our heads and hearts.

And, of course, when we choose to interact via our devices instead of in person or on the phone, our relationships become increasingly distant. All this “social” media and “connection” is definitely fun, which makes it easy to forget the incredible feeling of actually relating, on a deeper level, with another human being.

But my career will always require me to use the technology that I try (unsuccessfully) to relinquish at the end of my workday. In this struggle to find a balance between the new tech landscape and a deeper connection to the physical world, I’ve found several apps to help ease my digital woes. I hope they’ll help you too.

This time-tracking app has a very basic interface that allows you to quickly note what you’re doing and report on it later. This is an excellent way for you to see how much time you’re really devoting to “research” (internet browsing) and, as they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.

Checky | Moment
These mobile apps track the number of times you check your phone each day (Checky) and the amount of time you spend on your phone (Moment.) I’ve found that, while the counts aren’t always spot-on, knowing the apps are installed keeps me from reaching for my phone out of sheer boredom. And by the way– boredom is one of the best tools for creativity. The next time you feel like picking up your phone because you’ve got nothing else to do, stop and observe the world around you. Take a minute to let your thoughts go. I’ve solved many dillemas and come up with quite a few ideas by just letting myself be bored and letting my brain wander.

If you ever need to write something but find yourself tempted to browse the internet, check your email, or scroll through your facebook feed (again)– OmmWriter could possibly change your life. This app hides everything else on your screen and gives you a beautiful, chromotherapeutic blank page on which to write. As you type, the interface disappears. Move your mouse and the minimal design shows just a few black navigation buttons and a word count.You can change the background colors, music, and typing sounds, and everything saves to a simple text file when you’re done. It’s one of the best ways I’ve found to be alone with my thoughts.

This app changes the color of your screen based on the time of day. The blue light coming from your computer or phone screen late at night sends messages to your body that it’s still daytime, which results in lower quality sleep and a distorted circadian rhythm. During daylight hours when the natural light is blue, f.lux will match your screen to the cooler hue, and as the sun sets and night falls, your screen will take on an orange, candle-lit color. Tell f.lux what time you’re planning to wake in the morning and the app will even send you gentle reminders that your computer habits are eating into your sleep time.

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Of course, there are many non-tech ways to bring some balance back into your life — the most obvious being to put your device on airplane mode (or if you’re really brave, power off altogether) for a set amount of time each day or week. Or, the next time your phone battery runs low, turn it off until it’s back at 100%. Then, relax and know that just as your device is recharging, your soul is too.

Do you have any apps that help you get back to reality? Do tell in the conversation box below!



Photo by Jeff Sheldon

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