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How are your apps?

How are your apps?

Did you wake up this morning and immediately check your Apple Watch or Fitbit to see how many hours you slept and whether it was good quality sleep?

Have you managed a minimum of 250 steps in the past hour?

Is your phone or computer ‘pinging’ your schedule and deadlines for the day, reminders of what you need to do to achieve your daily tasks?

Technology is great, isn’t it? Keeping us on track in every area of our daily lives both at work and play, there seems to be an App for everything. But are we ruled by technology, has it taken over our lives for the good or to the detriment of our wellbeing?

It certainly has its advantages professionally, keeping teams in touch with online scheduling and online meetings, streamlining administrative tasks, and completing projects. But it doesn’t stop in the workplace, it has spilled over into our leisure time too. I always said I would not be a slave to a fitness tracker but this time last year when Chantall and I took part in a Wellbeing Challenge it soon became clear I would not be able to track all of the activities without investing in a Fitbit, so I relented. It was great and I soon became obsessed with how many steps I was doing each day and recording the other activities such as incorporating movement and meditation into my day.

I remember the one occasion (just before the first lockdown last year) I was out with friends at an 80’s disco evening. Anyone who knows me well will tell you, that as long as the music is good, once I get on the dance floor I rarely stop dancing all evening. Well, that Fitbit kept buzzing on my wrist as I hit the 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 up to 25,000 steps, I was in heaven. Why? What was this adrenaline rush? I was having a good time, but I would have done anyway without knowing I was racking up thousands of steps. Checking my Fitbit it also told me I had earned badges for the number of steps, who doesn’t like to get a badge or medal? I felt like Mutley, Dick Dastardly’s dog in Wacky Races, who would do any devilish deed for his Master just to get a medal.

But then the Wellbeing challenge ended (we won by the way!) but I still kept that Fitbit on my wrist. Suddenly, I couldn’t go a day without tracking my step count. I also downloaded another App, the Couch to 5k, and decided during the first lockdown, that I would complete all of the runs. I had completed the Couch to 5k about 18 months previous so this time around I was a bit cocky about it and desperate to prove to myself that I could do it all in less than the 9 weeks, I did too much too soon and just ended up injured. Now, I can’t do as much exercise as I would like due to still suffering the consequences.

The best thing that happened, although I didn’t think so at the time, I had the Fitbit on a clip attached to my jeans, and one day when I was out, the Fitbit must have fallen off. I never did find it and at first, I felt bereft. Now I feel free of that constant need to check my step count. I’m sure it caused me more stress by striving for self-imposed goals every day. If I didn’t reach the goal I wanted I felt as if I had failed and yet, I had still been active, I had still exercised, which is good, I just hadn’t reached a specified goal.

 There is so much information at our fingertips. We can use search engines to find out just about anything or say ‘Alexa’ and ask the speaker in our room to enlighten us on practically any subject (and to settle arguments!).

I love technology but sometimes it does not harm to step away from it. Quite often, if I am trying to put something together, say a quotation for a prospective client, or a presentation, or writing blogs, I can sit in front of the computer and struggle like mad to think of what to type. The information is all in my head but for some reason staring at a blank Word document on the screen doesn’t help me get the ideas flowing from my fingertips.

The only way I can do this is to step away from the computer, take a heap of scrap paper, and start writing down notes. For some reason, pen and paper give me more time to think and less pressure to get something written straight away. I still do ‘To Do’ lists with pen and paper too even though I could easily do the same thing on my phone or via an App. It is good to have Apps and software which allow us to log work, monitor progress, and complete tasks to help us make the best use of our time but we mustn’t let them become all-consuming. It’s not always bad to do things the ‘old-fashioned way’, they can be just as effective and it gives you a break from screen time.