At SET, we believe in the positive power of technology. We also believe that - like all things in life - technology is best in moderation. However, since our jobs, school work, extracurricular activities, and social lives depend on technology, it has become increasingly difficult to moderate its use.
Many productivity gurus, entrepreneurs, and tech giants (such as Steve Jobs) have advocated device or screen free times and spaces to limit using technology; at SET, we believe society needs to go even further and with greater measures. Research is beginning to show that we are addicted to technology. To combat this and other unknown mental and developmental health risks, we must create a collaborative culture of technological self-control and mindfulness. We emphasize that this shift must be “collaborative” across elements throughout our society as it likely will take a mass movement to change our collective behavior.
SET challenges all businesses and schools to develop and implement a Technology Mindfulness Program. Try the following four steps to start your Technology Mindfulness Program:
1) Institute a Technology Mindfulness Think Tank
The think tank should research how and when the organization should use technology on a daily basis (personal and work devices). Next, the group should read and share research on technology mindfulness with the community.
Check out these resources to get started:
2) Get Your Organization’s “Pulse”
The think tank should then find out what matters most to the organization. For example:
- What are your organization's main concerns around technology usage?
- What does your organization appreciate about technology at home and in the workplace?
- Does your organization want device free zones in the workplace?
- Does your organization want technology free times during their day?
- Does your organization want to introduce limits around emailing outside of work hours?
- Does your organization want access to tools that will help keep them focused while using technology to get work done?
3) Create and Implement a Program
The think tank should analyze the answers generated from the questions in step 2 to determine what is most important to the community. Using these determinations, develop a program which incorporates daily, weekly, and monthly “Technology Mindfulness” goals for the organization. The goals could be individual, group, or organizationally focused and range from optional or highly recommended to organizational mandates.
The Technology Mindfulness Program should not create stress but instead provide respite from the daily demands of technology. Create a physical bulletin board or online space for the community to record its progress made on goals, provide feedback, and discuss the challenges/successes of the Technology Mindfulness program.
Note: We are acutely aware that technology free times/zones can create more stress due to work piling up. For this reason, the program must be implemented across the organization to collectively shift culture. For example, if everyone is required cease email activity at 6:00 pm, then ensure that employees are given enough time during the day to complete their correspondence.
SET advocates for comprehensive technology integration and ongoing innovation through technology, but we also believe that, to achieve increased productivity, creativity, and mental health, we all need to unplug regularly and often. Building such a Technology Mindfulness program will give us an opportunity to mitigate the negative effects from our technology use and work towards creating positive habits.