Digital Detox

Digital Detox

Do you check your email before you’ve gotten out of bed? Do you have a Pavlovian response when your phone bings, buzzes or beeps? Have you interrupted a conversation, an intimate moment or a family meal with real live people because there’s a new post on Instagram? If you’ve answered “yes” to even one of these questions, you’re a good candidate for what is referred to as a digital detox— disconnecting yourself from technology.

Now, don’t get me wrong: Technology is a wonderful thing. I am amazed at just what my iPhone can do, whether it’s finding answers quickly, communicating with friends or watching a video. I love that I can FaceTime with my nieces and nephews, especially given the socially distancing parameters of 2020. However, drawbacks exist, and human contact is important. This is why it may make sense to limit our use of technology.

Some Ideas on Disconnecting

Lighten the morning routine:
Get up, shower, dress and eat without looking at your technology. If you need to check email before you head to the office, wait until you’re in the car (and before you drive). Another idea: Move the phone-charging station out of the bedroom.

Reclaim non-work time:
Especially given our current environment, many of us are working from home and/or juggling multiple responsibilities. That can cause a blur between “work” hours and “non-work” hours. It’s more important than ever to honor your non-work time. Just because a work email comes in after business hours, it’s likely you don’t actually need to respond until normal business hours.

Delete time-stealing apps from your phone: It’s easy to get caught up in scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc., and wind up getting sucked into a black hole, then wondering where that last hour went. Sometimes social media can make you feel like you’re not doing enough. By taking at least some of those noncritical apps off your phone, you’re automatically going to be more productive.

Adopt the one-screen rule:
Have you found yourself sitting down to work or firing up a show on Netflix, only to immediately pull out your phone to mindlessly scroll through some app or check your email? Our tech dependency has reached a place where most people have two to three screens within easy reach at all times. While this might not feel like detoxing, limiting yourself to just one screen will help to ease the feelings of restlessness that tech over-exposure can cause.

Make breaks a part of your schedule:
Stuff constantly competes for your attention, and this can be more than our technology talking. Put blocks of “device-free” time on your schedule, and make self-care a priority. Whether you use that time for a quick walk, reading a chapter of a book or remembering to eat something is up to you. Another idea: Turn off the instant notification that makes your phone buzz, beep or vibrate when anything new comes in.

Most ImportantlyBe Truly Present in Your Life.
When you are on your phone (tweeting, Instagramming, Facebooking, texting, emailing) and others are near, you are not fully present in the real world. Your nonverbal cues speak volumes, letting everyone know you are elsewhere and signaling they are less important than whatever is happening on your screen.
Learn to put the phone down, even deliberately saying “I’m going to turn this off /put this away so I can focus on us.” Just watch for the looks of appreciation you’ll get as you acknowledge putting real-live people as your priority. 

Whether it’s just one day or an entire week, having even a brief fast from electronics can work wonders for your productivity. Upon completion, you may even find yourself without the desire to return to your previous technology habits.

Three Immediate Techno Tamers

Make the most of your phone’s screen-time feature. Most smartphones nowadays have a feature that will track your usage, giving you a clearer picture of how you use your device throughout the day. If you see that you’re spending more than two hours a day on social media, try setting a time limit on your phone so you can taper it down.

If you are going out with your friends or family, try leaving your phone at home.  Since you are with others and if there’s an urgent need, you can use their phone or still be reached if if an emergency arises. 

Do “tech-free” meals. Put your phone in the middle of the table and invite your meal mates to do the same. According to Nielsen’s State of the Media: Social Media Report, a third of people between 18 and 24 don’t even go to the bathroom without their smartphone. Yikes. Shouldn’t these be tech-free zones?

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