One day we feel grateful for the discovery of mobile phones and the next day we curse the invention. Do you all agree that smartphone invention is good and how we use this invention is what makes it good/bad?
Instead of blaming our phones, computers and gadgets for all our laziness, grammar mistakes and sedentary lifestyle, it’s time we start looking at the positives and work towards them. Devices can even help shed away bad habits and replace them with good habits.
A habit is some behavior that we do repeatedly such that it sinks within us subconsciously and becomes a part of our daily life. For example, brushing teeth or having bath are habits. Such is the power of a habit that makes it harmful (bad habit) or powerful (good habit).
Charles Duhigg in his book ‘The Power of Habit’ points out that a habit is made up of three pieces-the trigger, the routine and the reward.
Any technology comes of best use for this part of a habit. It can provoke you to set a trigger to follow a routine. To install useful triggers on your gadget you need to set up a few things. First, decide when you want this habit to fit into your daily routine and then, work on where you would like it to happen. Then set the trigger for the habit. Every watch, laptop or smartphone can be a great device to set reminders. For example, if you want to pay your monthly credit card bill by the 15th of that particular month, you can set a reminder to ‘pay credit card bill at 10 PM on the 14th of each month.’ You can even set location-based habits such as setting a reminder to ‘take a few deep breaths as soon as you sit down at your desk’. You can set pop-up reminders in your task manager or calendar app.
Sometimes you need to be creative to build your habits. For example, if you would like to drink some plain water every few hours, promote your blog on Facebook once they get published or maintain a journal some triggers can help you do so. Workflow apps like Zapier (a specialty of iOS devices) can help you set complicated reminders. For examples, you can set a reminder to change your meetings into walking meetings on days when it is not raining or a reminder to leave office early if you have worked overtime the previous night.
Logging apps help you log details about the foods you consume and in course of time it might be a trigger for you to start working out once you find the calories going way beyond your regular intake.
With the ‘trigger’ process set intact, the next step is to think upon using technology beneficially in the long run.
We meddle with our mobiles while watching TV. Instead, if we involve in some activity that we enjoy, it would be useful as well. You can paint something, do embossing or quilling. Even if you are learning a new art, don’t get frustrated when you don’t get to do it correctly in the first attempt. Tech comes of immense use here. You can use YouTube help videos or other ‘how to’ videos and follow instructions to succeed in your activity.
Even exercises and fitness have become easily accessible with a plethora of fitness and health apps such as Lose it, Couch to 5K run, etc. Even amateur runners can practice for marathons and succeed using these apps. Some of these apps even conduct online competitions and reward winners that can be motivational and fun. If you are unable to perform some exercise, you can map a Skype call to your gym friend and learn it.
Every now and then, we need distractions from our boring routines and apps like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hot star come to our rescue here. These remain integral to sustaining habits and succeeding in them.
Like how parents tempt their child by rewarding them with crayons or stickers for completing their homework or being well-behaved, tech too provides users with rewards. But one must always ensure to skip food rewards that can affect your child’s health badly in the long run as elaborated at www.firsteatright.com. Rewards motivate an action to become a habit. Our brains get used to doing the activity and receiving a reward which finally makes us crave for the habit.
Few people love encouragement and hence, love to post their achievements on Facebook or Instagram to be rewarded with applauses and encouragements. Also, reward yourself with small yet pleasurable rewards when you complete a task. If you decide to reach office by 8 AM every morning and you do it, reward yourself with 5 minutes of Facebook posts every morning. If you decide to go for a short walk during your office break and you do so, reward yourself with 5 minutes of reading memes at the end of the day.
Chopping Bad Habits
Bad habits can be curbed only with good habits. If you want to reduce alcohol consumption, try switching over to a smoothie and if you would like to eat your lunch on time despite office work, reward yourself for doing so by the end of every day with a video call to your loved one.
Technology can be good or bad depending on the user. Learn to savor technology by using it in the right sense, motivating yourself to form good habits and rewarding yourself for practicing these habits. Technology might even change your phone, laptop or other gadget usage from merely being compulsive to something more intentional and worthy.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.