In medieval times in Europe, Dragons were considered symbols of chaos.
I’ve come to the realization that there’s a dragon living in my house.
It’s my smartphone.
Look, I’m not a techno-fogey; I realize technology is here to stay and it allows us to do some incredible things.
But, left unchecked, it wreaks havoc on (and in) my life.
I’ll admit it: I’m having some boundary issues. So I’ve built a device dungeon.
From the outside, the dungeon may look like an ordinary box that I put my phone into at 6 pm. But for me, it’s more than that.
It’s my support system. It’s got the strength of a fortress, the vigilance of a sentinel. The dungeon aids me in ritually banishing the dragon on a daily basis, like a vampire to its coffin.
I’ve created this elaborate ritual, because if (and when) I don’t, the dragon causes serious damage after workday is done.
What drove me to this point? Three things:
1. Lack of presence.
When you start sneaking peeks at your phone during dinner with your kids, you know you have a problem. (This happened to me.) Devices—particularly the intermittent reward system that our rings, pings and vibrations give off–are highly addictive. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we’ve been conditioned to drip a little dopamine (the craving hormone) into our systems each time something new shows up.
In relationships, the biggest value you have to give someone is your attention. (We use the phrase pay attention for a reason–it’s our relationship currency.) When I’m with someone (my kids, for example) and I’m focused on my device, my actions are saying “You’re not valuable enough for my attention”.
When I realized that this was the message that I was sending, I knew it was time to build a dungeon.
2. Lack of recharge.
For all this extra time on and with my device, what was I getting?
Mainly exhausted. It was messing with my sleep (not being able to get to sleep, not being able to stay asleep).
Was I really more connected? No.
Was I really getting valuable information that I needed right then and there? No.
My day up until 6 pm is busy enough. How much more do I think I need to cram into it? Without recharging and renewal, there are diminishing returns.
I got tired of being tired. When even I didn’t want to be around me, I knew I needed to change something.
3. Lack of boundaries leads to lack of performance.
My work/home/colleagues/family/friends/important/trivial (in other words…everything!) was bleeding into one giant pool.
As much as we love the “brain is like a computer” analogy, the fact is people are not computers, and we don’t process information in the same way.
All human-information is processed with emotions and meaning attached (Is this info good or bad? What do I need to do?) and all of that additional human-style information processing weighs us down. It makes us much less efficient and effective.
One consistent trait of high performers is that they have a strong focus- and strong boundaries. My dragon device weakens my performing powers. Banishing it to the dungeon removes a mental and emotional weight from my day.
What strategies to you employ to keep “the dragon” in check? Join the conversation by commenting below.