16 Ways Technology Helps (Me)

Oct. 17th, 2016

The definition of ‘tech shaming’ as I understand it is “To make someone ashamed of using technology, especially smartphones, portable music devices, or tablets.” The fear behind this largely unintentional practice is, I can only surmise, that use of such technology will be detrimental to the lives of those using it. I believe the use of shame to change behavior isn’t a good way to build or maintain a healthy relationship with anyone. Even, or perhaps especially, a relationship with yourself.

Whenever this concept comes into my awareness and thoughts I always think of the many, many ways technology allows me to do things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. Here is a list of just some of them.

1. Reading

The first way that jumped to my mind is the app Overdrive (now called Libby). That app is nothing short of a miracle for me.

2. Drive safer

Once driving became commonplace for me, my brain began to feel bored by the task. As a result, my mind wanders in search of something to occupy it. This is of course hazardous when operating a 2,800 pound piece of metal. So on long drives I started listening to podcasts. The engagement is just enough to keep me from being bored, but not so complex that I lose focus on the road. I play them from my phone through the car’s sound system so my headphones don’t interfere with my driving awareness. I’m sure my life would have been in danger if not for Welcome to Nightvale or the MCDM Presents podcast.

3. Remember important things

Of course I don’t need to mention it yet again, but my reminder app.

4. Maintain long-distance friendships

For a long while I didn’t have text messaging to the United States and so my only contact with my American friends was via iMessage. Sometimes friends who share our interests don’t share our citizenship. How much emptier my life would be without those people and the technology that allows their warmth into my life.

5. Make cleaning fun!

Other things my ADHD dislikes doing separately are socializing and cleaning. Handsfree phone accessories allows me to do both at once. I once cleaned the entire house between two calls to England.

6. Stay accountable

A very effective productivity strategy for ADHD is accountability with friends. Many times I have engaged in a mutual accountability agreement with a friend or classmate via a Facebook group.

7. Organize family

Recently my mother came up with a stellar organizational trick. Instead of attempting to herd my family, all of whom have executive function challenges, into an organized event, she invites us all to a Google calendar event that is added automatically to our personal calendars for us to fit into our schedules. It’s fast, it’s easy, and best of all, it’s 100% nag-free. My mother is a brilliant woman.

8. Have executive function

I’ve mentioned before, at length, how useful my smartwatch is to me.

9. Maintain awareness

And then of course there’s Google Drive and Documents.

10. Fall asleep

My phone’s proprietary timer app has a setting where the tone is “stop playing” which turns off any audio after a set amount of time. The podcast app has a similar function. This allows me to drift off to sleep without having to reach over to turn off my phone. So. Incredibly. Useful.

11. Stay asleep

Another function of my phone is the ability to schedule times when all noise (except alarms) is silenced. I view this as a technological boundary. Nobody has to worry about waking me up by texting me because I’ve taken care of when I need to sleep.

12. Have fun and exercise at the same time

Zombies, Run! and Pokemon GO are both apps that have motivated me to include exercise in my life. The trick of both of them is the fun factor that is always a good way to motivate ADHD to do just about anything.

13. Remind my future self

Because ADHD often has memory problems, the statement “Oh, I’ll remember that.” is almost always fallacious. One way I combat this problem is texting and emailing myself information. Or sometimes I’ll ask someone else to do it, if my phone isn’t in reach, say, because I’m driving.

14. Study

When the business my husband and I run together purchased an iPad, its purpose was to be able to display custom chainmail pieces at shows. It became invaluable to me in my studies and coaching business. Of course the use of tablets in business and education isn't new, but before the purchase I could not have predicted how helpful it would end up being.

15. Explain the inexplicable

When my parents were assisting me with renovations, sometimes it was difficult to verbally explain what I pictured being built or altered. I created a structure in Minecraft that visually depicted the shelf I was imagining and it made instant sense to my father.

16. Coach

Most of the above has been for my personal life, but technology has been useful in my coaching business in yet another way. Skype and text message have allowed me to use my skills to assist anyone, no matter their preferences, location, or travel abilities. And all of the above are just ideas I use. I can't imagine how many other brilliant ideas are out there working for other people right now.

The key to it all, of course, is balance. The fact that technology is harmful in some cases is obvious, though I would say it's not as simple as that. People, to quote tumblr, have been sitting inside, ignoring each other since we invented indoors. This, so say I, is nothing new. The distractions, the addictions, the disruptions are all things we, as individuals and as a global community, must learn to deal with. And the key is balance, and each person’s definition of that balance is as unique as they are.

What role does technology play in your life?