• One of the great laments of the digital age is that we spend too much time on screens and devices.

    I can’t argue with that.

    For years, I have been advocating that we practice mindful digital habits. This advocacy springs from three sources.

    Firstly, I have a strong belief that a mindful life is a meaningful one. Taking time to pause and consider our choices and be present in our daily activities creates space to act with purpose. As a result, we spend our time where it matters most.

    Secondly, as I trained hundreds of small businesses around the province on how to use social media and digital strategies over the years, I became aware that most content and posting frequency advice sets unrealistic standards for engagement.

    Unless a business has the budget to hire a social media manager, it simply isn’t humanly possible to meet the standard without sacrificing other aspects of personal or professional life.

    Finally, I became a student of my own online behaviour. Where does spending time online enrich and validate my life? In what ways do I use devices to distract from, or replace face-to-face engagement?

    When I am bored, or have spare time, do I turn to the screen, rather than other, more positive pursuits – such as exercise, hobbies, or social activities?

    Answering these questions offers personal insight. Insight leads us to conscious choice-making. In my online journey, increased awareness has been key to finding a balance between online and offline activities.

    Summer is a great time to stop and reflect on how you are spending your precious time. Longer days and warm weather entice us to get outdoors and enjoy the luxury of slowing down.

    All winter long, we dream about summer. Did you imagine a season of picnics, beach time, barbecues, and afternoons lazing with a book under a leafy tree?

    Instead, do you find yourself chained to your laptop or glued to your phone? Give yourself permission to pause and step away from screens. Doing so will tell you a lot about your own habits and possible compulsions around technology.

    If you find yourself feeling anxious or stressed without a device, it’s a good sign that you need to take a break from technology.

    Encourage your family to agree to iPad or phone-free mealtimes or outings, reduce the scope of your posting or content schedule to honour the true essence of vacation, and set aside time to mindfully appreciate summer’s beauty.

    Notice the impact that time offline has on your personal or professional life.

    There is no question that the Internet has become a central feature of our daily lives.

    We rely on it in innumerable ways, and it is a boon to communications, entertainment, and business.

    It is also a source of endless distraction, capturing our attention and wasting our time. Choosing to strike a balance means refocusing on what truly matters and putting our attention there.

    See if you can offset time wasted with time well-spent.

    Happy summer.

    Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This article first appeared in the Maple Ridge News.