Technology has gotten a bad reputation as of late. Of course there are the obvious downsides (mindless scrolling, insomnia, anxiety) but as quick as we can be to criticise social media and constant connectivity as the main suspect for our society's obsession with e-living, it's actually not all that bad. In truth, we wouldn't be using it if it didn't serve some sort of purpose, right? Of course there’s Uber Eats and online shopping (praise be), but according to writer and researcher from Harvard Business Review, Alexandra Samuel, before we swear off our devices, we can actually use technology to help us develop positive real-life habits.
In her article, Samuel outlines that habits are made up of three pieces: “The cue or trigger (whatever prompts you to engage in your habit), the routine (the habit itself), and the reward (the payoff that rewards and reinforces your habit). Your tech tools can help you with each of these components.” And when it comes to enforcing these desired habits Samuel suggests starting by deciding on the habit you want to create, for example walking. Next, deciding a context where this could happen—perhaps walking to meetings, or taking a quick break during lunch to get more steps in.
After deciding this, you set a reminder on your phone, whether it’s through an alarm or push notification. This serves as a trigger that you can’t really ignore. This is not a new concept, historically people have used visual markers to set new habits, however, as we are constantly attached to our devices, your probably going to gain a more favourable outcome.
For habits that require more intellectual scheduling, Samuel suggests using apps like If This Then That and Zapier, which allow you to set reminders for more complicated habits. For example, getting you to drink more water if you’ve exercised, or turning meetings into “walk and talks” if the weather is looking good. Once the habit is in full function Samuel also suggests using apps to guide your habit into a way of life. This is particularly great for meditation and mindfulness practice, as it’s a skill you can continue to grow into and perfect further.
Click over to Harvard Business Review for the full article.