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7 min read

Happiness in Technology

So I’m back, from outer space, I just wrote this little blog to put a little smile across your face. You should have blocked our stupid feed, you should have never followed me. If you had known for just one second I would be rambling about PC’s, now Go!

Just kidding, welcome back to the HoC month of happiness twilight zone. In my last post, I was talking about what is happiness? Since then, Debi and Ben have been sharing some great advice, tips and tricks on making happy goals and the karma of doing something nice for others. In this post, I’m going to delve a little further into happiness within technology.

He’s buck ass silly I hear you say? Yes, well, your probably right, I am. However, there is some solid advice behind my ramblings. Things that work for me and I have seen work for others successfully and helped them to stay a little more mentally balanced and happy in their everyday life. So here goes…

Many many years ago, as a young hairy little Irish dude, I was full-on addicted to technology. In some ways I still am, but I do have to retain a certain amount of normality and composure to be socially accepted by my family, peers and wider circle of humans. I have a mask which makes me look normal, but in the depths of night when the world is sleeping the mask comes off and the real me emerges (think American Psycho). I go into my happy place of immersive learning about technology and enjoying the capabilities of the shiny toys buzzing away in my home office – for the record, I am referring to computers, I know what you are thinking, but those toys stay in another room.

That sort of ‘technology’ though, if you can call it that, can definitely make people happy. Many scream with happiness on occasion, it can be that ‘effective’. PC’s or any form of computers, on the other hand, can bring a different type of happiness.

Let’s look at what computers, smartphones, wearable devices and such things are. They are designed first and foremost as enablers. People tend to forget that when they are walking around the Apple store looking at the next new shiny MacBook with that thinner bezel and that extra trackpad space. Oh, I must have this, I can’t wait to be sitting in Starbucks and some random geezer notices I have this 2020 edition. This will be a game-changer for me. Really? You, my friend, have just got sucked into the world of marketing. This does not matter in the slightest and for the most part, nobody cares.

It really does not matter what technology you use, but how well you use it. If you think of it first and foremost as an enablement tool, you are on the right path. The truth is, laptops, phone and various other gadgets have changed little in the last decade or so. The architecture is pretty much the same, as are the designs, form factors etc. Don’t get sucked into the latest thing, it’s a false reality.

When you are investing in technology now, the key thing you should be considering is how can I use this to make my life easier? How can I use this to carry out some of the burdensome repetitive crap tasks I carry out every month? If you can achieve these things by using technology in some form then by doing so you will be able to make time for more of things in life that are important such as looking after your physical and mental health, spending time with family and loved ones, and hopefully, a little time to give something back to others.

Here are a few tips and tricks I have learnt along the way:

  • Remembering stuff so that you don’t have to: Invest time in understanding explicitly the capabilities of your operating system when it comes to diary management, task lists and reminders. All current operating systems for business and domestic users have this capability right out of the box. If you use these tools well, your shiny black….computer…will make life a little easier for you. Make sure the applications that you are using on your computer also have mobile app counterparts so they sync well together. Try not to go cross-platform if you can, this will lead to problems down the road.
  • Automating the boring stuff: Most people view automation as something to do with robots and, at best, something they may do in work to help them with certain tasks. Take some time to look at the capabilities of software products such as Zapier and Pabbly Connect, to name a view. There are many free and paid variations of automation software. Look at how you can apply this to your personal life and not just your working life. You would be amazed at what you might find! Again, by doing this, you can spend time on other cool stuff.
  • Honing your technology: Most operating systems, both desktop and mobile, out of the box are raw beasts, designed for a wide global audience of humans. You have individuals needs, specific needs that will help make things easier for you. Take some time, in the depths of the night (if that’s your thing) and learn your OS capabilities. Get rid of the bloatware that comes with it that you will not use, turn off notifications of rubbish that will do nothing more than distract you and ensure that anything that is left is of practical use. If you consider this from the perspective of minimalism, any software product that you do not use within a 9 month period should be deleted. Why I hear you ask? I invested in a 1Tb SSD so I could keep as much crap on my computer as possible? I spent an extra billion dollars with Apple for a 256Gb iPhone so I could have endless amounts of apps? Trust me, delete them all, no constant updating software you don’t use, no unnecessary conflicts with you OS due to crappy quality control with software releases = no distractions. Keep your tech for its sole purpose, to enable you in life better. Tame the beast.

On a final note, I spoke earlier in this blog about taking the mask off at night and going into my world of technical learning. This works for me, but many years have passed since that hairy little Irish lad would sit until the early hours of the morning stuck to monitors. One thing I have learnt over the years, probably the biggest lesson of all, is to remember to stay disciplined with technology. There is a time and place for it, don’t let it consume you, it’s designed to do so! Digital distraction is very much a real thing now. Be strict with yourself on how much time you allow yourself to use technology. If you let time run away with itself, you will have completely lost sight of its purpose in the first place. Let it be an enabler, but nothing else.

Use the time gained from these magical devices to spend quality time on the things that are really important such as your own wellbeing and your loved ones. If you can do that, then you deserve to wear the crown of a technical expert as you have mastered and controlled what technology is really about. It should do nothing more than make you happier ?

Until next time, be happy!

T

Tony Baker

Tony Baker

Director & Co-Founder at Humans of Code