Power down technology, log onto your brain

Nowadays it seems like there’s an app for everything, and some form of instant visual reward for something...

Nowadays it seems like there’s an app for everything, and some form of instant visual reward for something that might be the least bit unappealing. Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned hard work? People shouldn’t always need a gimmick or reminder to function and achieve their goals.

The ongoing Fitbit craze (and other wearable fitness technologies) is one of the biggest offenders.

After wearing one of the devices for just over a year and realizing the only thing to be gained from it one couldn’t achieve while not wearing it and working out was a wrist rash from sweaty rubber it was easier to see how people become addicted to convenience and the illusion more is being achieved than what actually took place.

The Fitbit dashboard on a person’s phone or computer provides instant gratification. The Fitbit isn’t a magical fitness fix but when progress can be tracked in real time every little bit looks better than the non-existence that was there before. For those simply relying on the numbers at face value without taking into account caloric intake versus output, individual metabolic rates and other non-generic factors the pretty dashboard and statistics are going to be misleading.

A friend of mine is still enamoured with their Fitbit but laments whenever they forget to put it on. Just because your steps aren’t being calculated by the device doesn’t mean your body isn’t receiving the health benefits; yet that never seems to be the concern. It’s all about the digital progress.

House cleaning and home organization apps are another joke, and again, personally, a temporary leave of senses took place after initially discovering them.

With the dozens and dozens of options available, and the individual steps involved with each one, it takes less time to tack a to-do list to the fridge. And neither the app nor the physical list can force someone to get off their keister; they have to want the clean house.

Now that’s not to say get rid of all apps and digital conveniences but they shouldn’t be the driving factor behind a person’s motivation. Completing the job well should be the motivation; anything else is just a bonus.

David Wagner, executive editor, Community and IT Life, says smartphones aren’t making people dumber, just lazier. He adds people no longer want to do the work when it comes to cognitive thinking. In an article Wagner wrote he detailed a University of Waterloo study, which suggests when people are not using their phones for basic communication functions or entertainment they’re relying on their phones to do the cognitive thinking for them.

What does this mean for healthy living and a clean home? People were losing weight and staying healthy long before Fitbit came onto the scene and will continue to do so after the novelty fades. Healthy living and weight loss is a science and balance, and people are smart enough to figure it out if they’re willing to put in the effort and use their brains before turning to an electronic device. A clean home comes down to priorities and time management. The glorious smartphone app can’t freeze time and it won’t decide your priorities for you either.

Douglas Merrill, former chief information officer to Google, admits these days people are practically drowning in digital information. He says like a desk to computer, a person’s life and brain also need to be de-cluttered at times. His tips for that include going old-school and using paper when that’s the more efficient choice and minimizing fake clutter.

An organized space including digital space makes for an organized mind.

A 2011 OfficeMax study, headed by Kelton Research, states within a group of 1,000 national participants ages 18 years old and up 90 per cent feel clutter negatively impacts their lives. Of the respondents 77 per cent feel it affects productivity, 38 per cent say it impacts their professional image and 40 per cent believe it affects happiness.

That being said, disorganization to one is organization to another. It’s all about personal levels of capability and remembering to power down every once in a while.

Amelia Naismith is the reporter for The Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.