Not so long ago, many of us worried about ‘worklife balance’. At its simplest, it meant making sure you divided your time sensibly between hours of work and hours of, well, everything else.

Today, we worry more about finding a balance between the time we spend online… and… everything else. And one of the most important parts of  that ‘everything else’ is the time we spend in nature. Today, we don’t worry so much about worklife balance, but we do worry about technature balance.

What Is Technature Balance?

Let’s face it, many of us are connected to the internet pretty much all the time. It’s where we work, where we play, where we meet up with people and stay in touch with distant friends and family.

All of that’s fine. But there’s something else we could be connecting to that has rather fallen by the wayside. Planet Earth. The soil beneath our feet. The air we breathe. The forests, beaches, fields, mountains, lakes and gardens of the natural world.

Today, most of us live in cities. Beyond the occasional urban park, they’re not exactly rich in greenery.

And long before the smartphone arrived, people who live in cities were already pretty accustomed to life without nature, but now it is fashionable to blame technology for that separation.

That is incorrect. It is we who are responsible. We thought we could concrete over the fields and design a better life for ourselves, free of nature’s wildness and uncertainties. But it’s very obvious now that this was the wrong way to go.

What we must do now is develop a new kind of balance, a technature balance. One which helps us live more healthily in cities, and more naturally with our technology.

Find Your Own Technature Balance

I’ve recorded a video explaining the notion of technature balance along with some practical advice on how to achieve it. In fact, just watching the film itself is an exercise in balancing the two, since it requires you to set aside five minutes of time to sit quietly and relax while you listen.

It ends with an invitation to audit your own technature balance. Here are some of the questions:

  • How many natural materials do you physically touch every day – real wood, soil, leaves, flowers, and vegetables.
  • When you need to rest your eyes, where do you look? At clouds, at trees, at gardens?
  • Did you tend a plant? Stroke an animal? Seek out a ray of sunlight and raise your face to its warmth?

I’d love you to share the results in the comments below, on the Technobiophilia Facebook Page, or on Twitter tagged #technature. I look forward to hearing how it feels for you!

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips:

  1. Images of nature can reduce stress and slow down your heart-rate so choose new pictures for your desktop wallpapers and screensavers.  Trees, water, blue skies and flowers all work well.
  2. Treat yourself to something made from real wood to add to your digital life – a mouse, a keyboard, a smartphone case. Enjoy the organic warmth, much more restorative than plastic.
  3. Take a trip into virtual reality to explore VR forests, plains, deserts, and oceans. Second Life has a wealth of landscapes to explore. Pause your shootout in Grand Theft Auto to take scenic photos of the glorious mountain ranges. Treat yourself to an Oculus Rift VR headset and open up whole new vistas.
  4. Go outside. Choose a topic to learn about this year – the shore, hedgerows, birds – and take your smartphone with you. There are lots of apps especially created for the outdoors, so remember – there’s no need to log off if you don’t want to.