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Do You Control Your Electronic Gadgets or Do They Control You?

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An ‘always-on’ culture impacts you more than you think. Over the last couple of decades, we’ve increasingly become dependent on the plethora of electronic gadgets which have slowly crept into our lives. As they became more sophisticated, we also started spending more time on them. We have found many of our daily activities have gone online in some shape or form, such as work, finance and banking, communication with family and friends, and socialising, especially during the pandemic of 2020. 

In fact, on average, people spend up to two and a half hours on social media a day. According to RescueTime, an app created to monitor phone use, the amount of time we spend on our phones is three and a quarter hours. For some, it can be much longer depending on how they use their phones. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that we seem to be even busier than ever. The question is, how active are you on social media and when on there, what consumes your time? 

How does an always-on culture impact you? 

Always-on means always connected and potentially always available. It impacts your ability to switch off and relax, especially at the end of each day. If you’re in the habit of picking up your phone first thing in the day and the last, then you might find relaxing, recharging, or even sleeping a little more challenging. Why? Your brain is still working because it thinks it needs to process information or produce results. 

Being continuously on social media can elicit both negative and positive outcomes. Some positives include feeling connected with family and friends, making new connections with other people around the world, an outlet for creativity and self-expression, to name a few. Negative impacts could be FOMO (fear of missing out) or checking your phone if you have the notifications turned on. Both outcomes can mentally drain you. 

Busy for the sake of being busy 

Do you know where your time goes each day? Doing a time audit is a great way to understand what you’re spending your time on and how. When you know what consumes your time, self-awareness equips you to make the necessary changes. For example, it’s easy to pick up your phone or tablet and while away a couple of hours if you’re not careful. 

That’s not to say don’t enjoy yourself or deprive yourself, but if you’re trying to achieve great goals and accomplish tasks, be mindful of where your attention goes. It’s easy to while away time on activities which could zap your energy and your time. If you set specific times for activities during your day, you will have better control of your time. 

Here are some valuable tips to regain control

  • Avoid picking up your phone or tablet if you’re free. Why? Because before you know it, time will have flown by.
  • Learn to switch off the phone at a specific time, at least one hour before sleeping, especially if you have trouble sleeping.
  • Leave your mobile phones out of your sleeping area. Better still, leave them outside the door.
  • Don’t check your phone the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night.
  • Turn off notifications, so you’re not constantly distracted by the alerts. 
  • Create your daily routine where you pause and reflect. 
  • Give gratitude.
  • Do something different.
  • Get out into nature.
  • Breathe well.
  • Make time to connect with others.


Go for a walk, but don’t take your problems with you. Learn to leave your phones behind and focus on the moment. Pay attention to what you see, hear, and smell. It will help you to get perspective. Who knows, it might trigger new ideas and opportunities. Don’t push or force yourself to think. Instead, go with the flow. 

Pervin Shaikh is a London-based executive coach with over 10 years of experience managing clients based in FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies.

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