By: Kathy Van Benthuysen: Founder, Before Giving, Before Getting
Want to know where all that time goes?
Well, most of us spend 8 hours sleeping, 8 hours working, and 3 hours for personal care: eating, grooming, etc. (for the arithmetically challenged, that's 19 hours). That leaves 5 hours of leisure time for activities that make us feel most fulfilled in life. Things like, reading, working out, engaging in hobbies, or building relationships with family and friends.
So, take a moment and think if you are spending those five hours on life-enriching activities. Studies show we probably aren’t. Think about it. A decade ago, we spent our leisure time pursuing worthwhile endeavors and only spent 30 minutes of the 5 hours connected to devices. Today, those numbers are reversed. This is a shocking and sad trend.
Technology, on the simplest level, is either a tool or entertainment. There are apps that we use for exercise (thank you MYXfitness), weather forecasts, and education, while others enhance the mind/body connection for relaxation and health. These apps are tools and we like these!
There are other apps such as dating, social media, gaming, news, and web browsing, which we use for entertainment. These steal huge portions of that 5 hours of personal time. We derive little physical or psychological benefit from these and they are responsible for the lack of activities that we truly love.
According to psychologist Adam Alter, in his 2017 Ted Talk, he stated that screens are stealing our time. Interesting word—stealing. It makes it sound like it is done with purpose and forethought. And actually, it is.
There was a 60 Minutes Special with Anderson Cooper called “Brain Hacking”. In it, he interviewed several techies that said social media, phones, and apps are engineered to addict us, to steal our time and attention. Technology is not neutral—it is programming people. It competes for our attention, and unfortunately, it is winning.
We know that we get a hit of “feel good” hormones, like dopamine and endorphins, from things that make us feel good. When working out, or more accurately, when we are done working out, you get a blast of endorphins. Getting a “heart” or “like” on our social media platforms gives us a shot of dopamine. Text messages or a new “follower” can do the same thing.
We know through the years that there have been advancements in gym equipment—better treadmills and bikes and more variety in classes. But, we don’t seem to be spending our free time getting exercise. We see a rise in health issues, including obesity and heart disease. There are all things that could be alleviated by working out, yet even with this knowledge, we still aren’t doing the things that bolster our health.
Change is hard, but there’s no need to be overwhelmed by it. Small adjustments to our daily lives can go a long way. Here are a few simple things you could get started with:
- Don’t have tech at meal times
- No phones in bedroom
- No phones after 9pm
- Turn off auto scroll on all devices
- Be present when you are with family and friends
- Look into BeforeGiving (Before Giving is a program designed to help prevent tech addiction. Or if already addicted, this will help break that addiction in 15 days. Just spend 5 minutes a day going through each activity and get results). Visit BeforeGiving.com for more information.
You have 5 hours of personal time each day. How will you spend it?