Making Technology Work for Us

By Philip S. Cox, Head of Middle School

Smartphones get a bad rap. Justifiably so. If we don’t manage the notifications on our devices we risk flinching whenever we hear a bell or a chime. We’ve likely been in meetings with colleagues when a “ding!” pulls attention from a conversation to an incoming email. This might be just what we need to keep us in the flow at work, but it might feel intrusive at home. It sure did for me. I felt distracted from life at home, always pulled back from what I was doing. I decided to reframe the way I looked at the problem.

I organized my problem-solving around a central question: “How can I use this [sometimes annoyingly omnipresent] technology to make me a better parent and husband?” After experimenting with a number of apps, I winnowed my collection to several apps. I have my “media” apps that keep me up to date on news, but then there are my “me” apps: one for fitness and the other for meditation. I believe in the sunk cost fallacy, so I deleted a bunch of apps that just didn’t contribute to my “self-betterment.” But I also found great use of an app that was on my iPhone all along: “Reminders.” Specifically, I make use of the feature within the app – the location-based reminder, and I set it to repeat each day when I arrive home.

Like many members of our community, I commute. The commute for me is to the eastern edge of Westchester County. I have plenty of time for news, audiobooks, and podcasts. I also have a lot of time to think about the kids here and the great work that our faculty are doing with the students. And every day, when I pull in the driveway, I get a location-based reminder: “Welcome Home. Leave your work in the car. Be present.” Within the nature of a 24/7/365 connected culture, work is never too far away. But if we utilize technology to keep us centered on the things that keep us centered, we can make technology work for us rather than the other way around.