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Interview with Allyson Kukel, Part Two: On a Balanced Relationship to Technology

In the first part of this interview, we talked to Allyson about her journey to founding Rooted in Calm, being a woman in business, and taking ownership of our own stories.

In this second part, we discuss our relationships to technology and how to set boundaries for ourselves.

You also touched upon the relationship we have with technology and how this can be a productive or addictive relationship. What do you think is the best way to find a balance?

It's difficult, because this year is our get out of jail free card for the ridiculousness of technology. But it is good to start thinking about what is really important. I like to look at the 'ideal week', so looking through Monday to Friday. 'What do I need to do? What do I want to do?' Personally, I use a spreadsheet to visualize my week. Because if you visualize how many hours you can waste every single day of your life, it's a lot. When you decide what you want to do, then decide what you don't want to do. I started with having a good sleep hygiene routine. I wasn’t a good sleeper, but it was more my lifestyle that was fueling not sleeping well. I decided that I wanted to have 8 hours of sleep every night I can. Sometimes there of course can be exceptions where you go out and have fun. But that little reminder on my phone really got me in the habit of just going to bed and not staying up later than I need to.

You know how you were growing up. You were either a kid that said 'Goodnight, I'm going to bed' or you yelled and kicked because you wanted to stay up all night. Now it's about finding this balance of maybe going to bed a bit later but sleeping in later. So, I think the sleep time reminder is very useful. Also, most phones will tell you how much screen time you are using, so understanding that is a good step. Then you have the ability to set filters for how long you should be on the phone or on specific apps. And sometimes we just need that discipline. Think for yourself: 'Okay, I’ve used this application for one hour, I don't need to use it further.’ Go for a break. Put the phone away and go for a walk without the phone. Or pick up a book. Do things that are tech-free. I get the irony that we're currently interacting over technology via Zoom, so there's a part where we have to make that more difficult decision right now. To give ourselves that downtime that we won't have when we are engaging with each other normally. So, it's more of a temporary thing for now. I mean, I do it, make sure you have screen-free time. I get on the computer first thing in the morning and work all day like this, so at lunchtime, the phone stays up here in the office. So, I'm not distracted by it, as it is then out of reach. I meditate in the morning, and I use my phone to do it and then I leave my phone downstairs, and my morning routine doesn't have my phone involved in it. So, I'm also trying to find these little ways to not have my phone in my hand, because the second it's in my hand, I will look at it.

I think a lot of people can relate to that. Also, as students we have a lot of tabs open, both mentally and technologically, which can be a lot to deal with. As we already talked about, we also have difficulty setting boundaries for our workload. How do you think, for those that are struggling, how can we get back into the flow of positivity, and healthy productivity?

Maybe it's good to separate the two in terms of productivity and positivity. Because I think that if we put a lot of value and self-worth in the work that we do, then that can become the only way in which we get our positivity. This can become very difficult for us, as this way of thinking affects our mental health. For example, with that mindset, if you fail an exam or you don't get a job interview, then all of a sudden your self-worth takes a really big hit. So, I think that if we look in terms of positivity, we now have the opportunity to figure out how we want to balance technology and well-being, because we're living through such a hybrid situation. Everybody that sort of adopts the technology we need, adapts to the way that we use it. We're the group that is going to go out there and then know how to navigate this new landscape and create it. Which is really exciting. I think that this is the positive side of it.

The healthy side of it is that it is okay to say no. It is okay to set some boundaries. I think it might be difficult, because at this point, especially for most of the WIL community, there is a change in identity. From being a student to going into being a leader, to going into the workforce. Your identity is still forming. It is not a solid thing yet, and we're going to continue to change over time. So, that thing I did two months ago 'Alright, it was stupid, I have to forgive myself for it, because I am not that person anymore and I am going to continue to change.' There are things that I look back on and I think "Oh no, not my brightest hour, not a brilliant moment". But I think that understanding that it's this change in the community, this timeline around the impermanence of the situation. So, it's going to continue to change, and we can be happy that we are becoming a better version of ourselves. And that is the fun part! I don't look back and think I really wish I was 23 again, or I really wish I was 17 again. None of the years have been the best years, there have been years that were tough. But every year I can say that it was a nice year, it was okay. I think this is a better way, and also a healthier way to look at it.


Written by Florbella Rodrigues Baptista

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