If you tweet more than you chat and your concentration span has disintegrated to a mere 140 characters, you need Paul Levy’s new book Digital Inferno: Using technology consciously in your life & work – 101 ways to survive and thrive in a hyperconnected world (Clairview Books, £12).
Released on 13 November 2014 it’ll help you log out of the digital realm and tune into the real world. Here, Paul, a writer, facilitator and founder of digital publication FringeReview who has worked with the digital realm for over 30 years, gives us 15 pointers for surviving in a digital world…
1 Create some digital-free spaces at home, where you choose not to be connected or distracted. How about the bedroom and the places where you eat?
2 Create a dedicated charging station for all of your digital devices in the house or at work. Put them ALL there, turn them off when not in use and unplug them when they are fully charged.
3 When your laptop is booting up, get up and do something else. Better, look out of the window and connect with the world out there; don’t stare impatiently at the screen.
4 When having coffee with friends in a cafe, get your device off the table; give your friends your full attention; it is a myth that the digital realm can’t wait. It can and it rarely impacts negatively on us.
5 Don’t let the digital realm get too pushy with you. Switch off ‘push notifications’ on your phones and tablets, for at least certain times that you choose. Push notifications are the alerts that keep you ‘always on’. Check your emails three times a day instead of constantly reacting to them as they bleed into your life
6 Read a message out loud or in your head before you send it; you will almost definitely then edit it or rewrite it and send a much better written message.
7 Get smart on digital security. Learn the habit of good password setting and protect your privacy. Don’t be like someone who leaves windows open when they go out and says ‘well, it’s never happened to me’ only to come home to a burgled house.
8 Don’t hunch over your laptop. Keep your back safe and always ensure you take breaks from bright screens. Get support for your wrists if you type a lot. Don’t store up all kinds of back, neck and other problems for later life.
9 Go ‘in’ fully for a digital hour of your choice – enjoy surfing and playing in the digital realm, then come out! Drink some water and take a walk outside. For each hour in, have a couple of hours out. That isn’t because the digital realm is bad; it’s just that it claims your mind and senses very powerfully.
10 Take a day to declutter your digital life – sort pictures, delete what needs deleting and make your desktop clean and fresh; don’t feel mired in chaos.
11 Protect family and social time; you will enjoy digital interaction better when you choose to do it rather than drift into it. Can you leave your device on off or, even at home, for a couple of hours?
12 Spend time online with your kids. Don’t berate them or over-police them. Get digitally aware and talk their language. Be there for them and then, when they really need you, they are more likely to seek you out as a parent. If you police them, they’ll feel like criminals.
13 The next time you reach for your device to capture the moment, stop, put the camera down and look again with your eyes; breathe it in. True, you may have missed capturing the moment in pixels; but you’ll have enriched yourself and also have a story to tell.
14 Find and create healthy spaces for your digital work and play. A good chair, some natural light or access to fresh air, a favourite cafe, a social space or somewhere where you can easily step away. Create one room in the house where we enjoy our digital time instead of coach-slouching or taking over the kitchen.
15 If you think you are digitally addicted then name that honestly: ‘Paul Levy is addicted to gaming and to Facebook’. Call that by its real name and then you might just begin to recover from it.