Smart devices are here to stay. They’ve let us streamline basic tasks like banking, getting directions, buying movie tickets and so much more. While there’s no doubt technology has made our lives easier in many ways (anyone remember day planners?), research suggests that our addiction to it is real. Chances are you’re reading this on your smartphone and if not, it’s probably within arm’s reach.
So, how do we fight the urge to be connected at all times? A digital detox may be in order!
Device use has become so prevalent that entities are beginning to fight back. Some restaurants are implementing bans on devices, more offices are keeping them out of meetings and there are a slew of new apps that block you from being able to use the rest of your apps—especially useful at formal events and in classrooms.
Think about how careful most of us are with our devices. We even tuck them in at night like they are treasures, taking care to make sure they are recharging while we sleep. In the same way that it’s healthy to get a sitter for a little personal time, it’s also healthy to take some time away from our devices. They do ‘demand’ our attention in a sense. However, unlike our children, leaving them alone for a little while won’t hurt them.
The good news is, ending our constant dependence doesn’t require going cold turkey! A few simple steps can enable us to stay plugged in and “detox” at the same time. After all, who among us doesn’t want to increase our health and create a a better work life balance!
To begin your digital detox, cut back on digital dependency a little at a time. Start by turning off your phone’s push notifications for just one or maybe two social media apps.
Some studies show that spending too much time on social media can make people unhappy because they constantly compare their circumstances to others instead of focusing on the positive in their own lives. Perhaps there is a site that leaves you feeling bad or drained, maybe even a little depressed. Avoid it, even for a little while.
Maybe that site is Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or a dating app — anything that sends an alert when someone contacts you or likes a post. If looking at it makes you feel bad, look at it less. Set a specific time of day to check each and set limits on how long you’ll spend on the site. This will give you more control of your time and increase your mental and emotional energy. Eventually, you may start to think more clearly about how to spend your time.
Another digital detox strategy is to set aside 15 minutes to an hour every morning to ignore your devices as you prep for the day. Start your day on your own terms and feel more inspired, rested and less anxious. This also leaves more time to have some personal interaction with the family before the day runs wild (as it often does!). Maybe you can use that time to enjoy a cup of coffee and breakfast at home instead of on the run!
Once you are comfortable with one or two apps not popping up constantly, keep going! Turn off the notifications for three, four, maybe even 10 apps. Before you know it, you will be able to set your phone (and or other devices) down for enough time to have an entire digital-free meal. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to get through the day without taking a peek at your phone at all!
Alice Hebert is the community manager at 510 Groveland in Minneapolis, Minnesota.