People make assumptions. And when you’re a tech startup CEO and a co-founder of Twitter, those assumptions include: You’re addicted to the internet. You work constantly and don’t sleep. You overshare.
Most of those things used to be true for me.
I’ve spent the last 20 years breathing and building the internet. So I have a good sense for the benefits of always-available instant access and all it entails. I also have a strong appreciation for the drain being constantly connected can cause on your health and sense of well-being.
In the last few years, I’ve put a lot more focus on keeping things in balance. Here are three practices I’ve found very useful for harnessing technology without letting it harness you:
Mindfulness meditation. Three years ago, I started a regular practice of meditation. It’s quite simple, though not always easy. Twenty minutes of sitting (or sometimes walking) per day is enough to stay relatively grounded amid everyday anxieties. Additional benefits include more insights and increased awareness — including awareness that you’ve been sitting the computer for hours on end and should maybe go for a walk.
Weekly schedule. Building companies requires a ton of work — and I love work. But I’ve also found that working 24/7 no longer produces the best work product or the best life experience (not that it ever did). A strategy I’ve been employing the last few years is to have a set weekly schedule. For example, on Monday’s I have dinner with my kids; on Tuesday, I stay at the office late. Wednesday is the all-important date night (no devices allowed). While work and other events demand flexibility from time to time, having a default schedule does wonders to maintain balance and set expectations with those around you.
Efficient exercise. I’ve always known that there are few things that have an effect on my energy, happiness, and effectiveness then exercise. But I found it very hard to get into a regular routine — not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because it was so time-consuming. Even with a gym across the street from my office. What I’ve learned in the past year is that you can work out at home, quickly (I do 30 minutes, 3–4 times a week), with minimal equipment, and feel great.
Perhaps ironically, I do use technology to help me practice each of these technology-balancing practices. (There are plenty of apps for each.) But that to me is how you use technology, rather than letting it use you.