Technology. Thanks to smartphones and Wi-Fi, it’s everywhere these days. Sometimes I wonder how in the world our family ever lived without it. And other times I really wish we could find out.
As an entrepreneur, I often feel the need to be plugged in 24/7. My staff members and sales reps all have my phone number and know the door is always open to talk. I check my email often to make sure everything is going well.
But I recently got a wake-up call from one of my kids. She called me out one day and said: “You know, Dad, when you put me to bed you used to really talk to me, but now I catch you checking your text messages or checking your email. That tells me you’re not really here.”
I realized right then that I had been letting technology take control of what should have been family time.
As I thought about it, I realized I was doing the same thing with my wife when I came home every day. Instead of being all-in and fully present when I walked in the door, I’d be checking technology all night long.
It caused me to realize that family time isn’t family time if we’re not fully present for it.
How to Take Back Your Family Time
I decided to make a change. I led by example. I put my technology on the table.
Now when I walk into the house after a day of work, I put my smartphone on the table.
I know where it is if I need it. I can hear it if it rings. But I’m not tempted to check it every two minutes.
Just by doing what seems a simple thing, I am free to connect with my kids and my wife without being tempted to check emails, social media, or voicemail one more time.
I’ve even coined the phrase in our family, “Put your technology, on the table.” When we all go out to dinner as a family, it’s the first thing we say. Every member of the family then puts their technology in the middle of the table.
Our kids get out their phones and we stack them up in a pyramid on the table. All of our technology stays on the table until the dinner is done.
By putting our technology on the table, we all get a break from the constant tug of technology. It sends a clear signal that we are choosing to focus our attention on one another.
It’s also allowed us to talk more about how we can intentionally use technology to build the brand equity of our family business. By not posting to Instagram or checking email for a few minutes, we can get the greatest return on our investment of time together as a family.
Now whenever we gather as a family, whether for dinner, family meeting, or any family time, we put technology on the table — and it changes the dynamics of the gathering. Our kids will even call for everyone to put technology on the table if they want to get our attention.
The fact is that technology is important; we couldn’t run our businesses without it. And it can make family life simpler in many ways.
But if you really want to build your family’s brand equity, put your technology on the table — and encourage the rest of your family to join you.