It’s that time of year again. You may be trying to decide what vice or habit to give up for Lent. I always try to challenge myself by selecting something tough but not impossible. After all, 40 days is a long time! For example, in years past I have give up sugar or alcohol (although I’ll never give up sugar again for the safety of those around me). While challenging, I’m not convinced that the omission of these things from my daily life truly contributed to my overall, long-term well-being. If you are in search of Lenten promise, consider adjusting your tech habits. Clearing your mind from tech distractions helps create space for creativity and calm.


Need a few suggestions? Try giving up these bad habits.

1) Tech dependency: Our phones have become our companions, social crutches, entertainment and life-lines to our friends and family. But just like everything else in life, it’s necessary to have balance. Plus, think of all you are missing out on when you stay buried in your phone! Real-life! Human connection! Sights and sounds and experiences that your phone can’t produce. I am not suggesting you turn your phone off until April 20th (I’m realistic) but you can help improve your tech-life balance. Consider these options:

o Stop checking social media after 8pm. You might miss some drunk Facebook posts or tweets but with any luck they’ll still be there in morning.

o Give up using your phone in bed. Just go to sleep already, and leave the phone in another room.

o Unplug completely on either Saturday or Sunday every week. When you think about all the time you spend on your computer or phone during the week, one day per weekend will bring you a step closer to a desirable tech-life balance.

o Stop using social media on your phone, committing to only checking your accounts on your computer. This might be a tough one. But think of all the brain time you’ll get back! Instead of mindlessly scrolling your feed, you can plan dinner or itemize your day or ponder the meaning of life or notice what’s happening around you. Allowing yourself time to think and process is time well spent.

2) Over-sharing: I saw Randi Zuckerberg give a presentation at the Dallas Digital Summit last December, where she covered the topic of over-sharing. I thought to myself, when Randi Zuckerberg tells you to stop blasting your followers with parenting and food posts, you may want to listen.

So have a look at your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feed for a mini meta-analysis. There are two things to consider in your self-evaluation: post frequency and post content.

o Frequency – How often are you sharing? Two or three times per week, per day? If there is any remote chance you are littering your friends’ feed with too many posts, you may want to rethink your strategy. Don’t be that person.

o Content: Here is where you need to get real with yourself. Is your content interesting, relevant, relatable or humorous? Seriously, be honest. Are you over-sharing about your children, upcoming nuptials or your dedication to the gym? I’m sure your friends are excited for your life events, but you don’t have to beat them over the head with it. As far as your day-to-day life goes, do you truly think your friends or followers are interested in a picture of your eggs Benedict or your fifth check in at the gym this week? Evaluate the emotion or reaction you trying to elicit from your followers. Does that in some way reaffirm your life choices? (Hopefully not!) These are the tough questions to ask yourself as you evaluate your social media goals.

Full disclosure, I post on social media in an attempt to be funny or to induce jealousy for something cool I am doing. Hey, at least I’m honest and strategic. Ask yourself what you are trying to get accomplished on social media, then evaluate if your posts are serving those goals.

3) Ignoring smartphone security: Think of all the information on your phone. It is likely a fair representation of your life, with apps for your bank, favorite stores, preferred travel partners, photos and information on your contacts. And yet, many of us don’t take smartphone security seriously, despite the sensitivity of the information at risk. You don’t need to invest in the super-secure Boeing Black, but there are simple steps you can take to increase your smartphone security.

o Remove your home address from Google maps or other navigation apps. It won’t kill you to type it in every time.

o Take advantage of anti-theft software like Apple’s Find my Phone and Google Device Manager. Do it. Now.

o It may be tempting to use a password manager to make browsing and signing in easier, but you are teeing things up for thieves or hackers. Take the extra steps to sign into sensitive sites or apps each time.

o Evaluate the apps you download and those you allow to access your data. Pay attention to the agreements you approve and evaluate which apps actually need additional access to your data.

o Update software and apps to ensure you are protected by the latest security updates.

4) Stop texting and actually call/Facetime/Skype someone. Remember when phones just made phone calls? That wasn’t so bad was it? Emails and texts lack context, voice inflection and true personal connection. I get the convenience factor, but as far are true communication and connection, we miss so much by limiting our sensory experiences of sight and sound.

Here are a few phone etiquette reminders, in case it’s been a while.

o Watch your language in public places. My mother says people swear because they can’t think of a more intelligent way to say to get their point across, and while I fundamentally disagree (there is no linguistic equivalent to the power and gusto of a well-timed F bomb) I do believe there is a time and place. Be respectful and considerate of those around you.

o Put your phone away during meals. It’s rude to ignore your companions.

o Don’t text and drive. Obviously. If you choose to talk and drive, invest in a Bluetooth or maybe just wait till you are home.

o Be mindful of others in public places or confined spaces. Your train companions or carpool friends may not be interested in every detail of your date last night. All it takes is one loud, talkative seat mate to remind us that we appreciate the consideration of others.

I am not going to sugar coat it: the first few days are going to be rough depending on your level of dependency. You will wonder why you committed to this for 40 days, but keep in mind there are numerous upsides to investing in your tech-life balance. You may reestablish or reignite important relationships. You may find extra time in your day to dedicate to yourself and your goals and passions.

Ideally, you will determine where you are on the tech-dependency spectrum by evaluating the difficulty in making tech-related adjustments to your routine. Hopefully this evaluation inspires you to work towards the appropriate tech-life balance for you.

And trust me, it is a lot easier than giving up sugar.

Posted on 3/3/2014

Rachel_Lewis headshotWritten by Rachel Lewis

Rachel Lewis is a senior strategist for a full service, global digital performance agency. For more than seven years, she has helped some of the world’s largest luxury brands and retailers achieve their digital goals. Prior to her marketing career, Rachel worked as a television news producer for ABC and NBC affiliates in Texas. She is a proud alumna of Baylor University, and received her graduate degree in Communication Studies at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Her interests include pink, Robert Griffin III, macaroons, traveling and 80’s pop. Perhaps more impressively, she can cure hiccups without fail. Follow her on Twitter @rachellynell.