There is much written today about the privilege and the peril of technology. I see it with my own eight-year-old daughter. She wants nothing more than to create music videos of herself, using cat ear filters and share them with her friends (yes, at eight this is happening). She’s now learned how to build presentations on the computer and now saves them to her Google Drive for school. Once again, at eight. The computer is full of good things for her. Dreambox, a math website or Code.org where she and I learn together the building blocks of computer programming. Many of her friends who are a year or two older have their own YouTube channels. So I’m being asked about that too. As a Director of Social Media for a large tech company, if I say no, I am literally the kettle calling the pot black. Where do you draw the line? If you know technology saavy is not only what makes us viable employees and contributors but will absolutely be the way her generation navigates the world, why ever say no?
This is a new chapter. Not just for parents but for the world. Technology is more pervasive than ever before. We all feel it. Much of this is has been driven by the power of the mobile technology in our pocket over the past ten years. But in the coming ten years, it will grow to be Artificial Intelligence, connect cars and our homes humming with knowledge of our preferences and daily lifestyle. It’s awesome and it’s staggeringly overwhelming.
Like many cultural shifts, it is not often apparent in the beginning what the rules of road are. Where the boundaries should be and what is black or white. We are all figuring it out. So how have I used technology to improve, not dominate, my life? A few of my favorite apps are as follows.
Calm. What was something I started doing when I’d find myself in a foreign city alone in a hotel room, traveling for business, I have now incorporated into my daily morning routine. Meditation was originally my way of feeling comfortable and normalized even when I was somewhere where I felt uncomfortable and not normal. I came to appreciate the familiarity of it so much that over the past three months, I’ve begun getting up early in the morning where I spend ten minutes with the Calm app to meditate in my living room. I love the instructor’s soothing Canadian accent. She feels both nurturing but also wise. Each meditation has a theme which she touches on only toward the very end. Themes might include worry, spontaneity or appreciation of nature as examples. And somehow, the theme is often exactly what I needed to hear that morning.
The next app I’ve come to love is podcast aggregator, Stitcher. I’ve said to many friends that, for me, our new President has been a blessing. In my social circle, this is an unpopular statement. But my rationale is this: since the news has become so heavy, so negative, I have converted much of the time I used to listen to NPR into listening to podcasts. I have discovered podcasts about all kinds of topics that fill me up with optimism and encouragement and knowledge I’d never get from the news. I’ve favorited podcasts on topics ranging from technology trends, investment advice, body language and the growing gig economy. It is now a part of my morning routine and I love it.
The last app that has been a game changer for me is a productivity app called Wunderlist. I heard a young woman from Microsoft talk about it at the Grace Hopper conference last year and decided to give it a try. One of my favorite things about it is its simplicity. Wunderlist is an app that allows you to keep and share lists. I have one that I make for our household projects which I of course share with my husband. I have another series of lists of restaurants I want to try, organized my cuisine. I keep one of my favorite sayings. Another of important notes I’ve taken at work that I want with me and another that are gaps in my wardrobe. Just in case I find myself on the occasional Nordstrom trip. Gone are notebooks, excel spreadsheets in my globe box or sticky notes. I just keep it all in Wunderlist and check it off or share when needed. Done!
Technology, like many complex tools before it, can be used for so much good, to distract and burn hours, or worse for unfortunate things like bullying and identity theft. I hope these three apps have helped give you hope that there are so many good ways to use that amazing computer in your pocket to encourage, motivate and organize your life. Happy 2018!