In a world where you feel helpless without your phone, lost without the internet, and alone without background noise (courtesy of your favorite Netflix series), it’s easy to feel like technology is a valuable asset in your day-to-day life. But when you’re attacked by information overload (the average social network user receives 285 pieces of content per day) on a daily basis and forced to consume unrealistic ideals of life every time you open social media (it’s linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep, up 70 percent in that last 25 years), technology is actually doing you more of a disservice than you think.
When you’ve gotten to a point where your phone is glued to your hand and you can’t leave home without your laptop charger, it’s time to ctrl-alt-delete everything you think about digital dominance. Here’s how to (successfully) accomplish a much-needed digital detox. Trust us, you need it.
Picking up your phone several times per hour could be attributed to the constant notifications you’re receiving. In our hyperconnected world, our phones light up every time a news story breaks, when somebody looks at a picture you posted, your friend posts a picture, when you get a text or an email, you name it. Getting constant updates on what’s happening in the world is informative — but it can also be distracting. If you’re allowing yourself to be distracted ten times every hour, you’ll never be fully focused in that time. Turn off push notifications and focus on the task at hand. Whether you’re working on an assignment or simply trying to live in the moment, you’ll notice how much more focused you are and how much faster and better you perform.
Stop filling the time with mindless scrolling
Social media started as a form of entertainment, but it’s become a way to distract yourself, or to avoid or distract yourself from whatever is happening right in front of us. Feeling writer’s block? You pick up your phone. Feeling awkward in a room full of strangers? You pick up your phone. Sound familiar? Instead, keep a stress ball at your desk and squeeze it while you focus on the problem at hand. And the next time you feel alone in a room of people (‘tis the season for awkward holiday parties), strike up a conversation with the next person trying to stay busy on their phone. It might feel equally uncomfortable at first, but it’s better than relying on technology.
Keep your phone out of sight (and out of mind)
There are certain situations where your phone should be kept in your pocket or purse. Spending time with your kids, friends or family, during meals and while driving are just a few examples. Checking your phone (or even just having it out on the table during a conversation) can be a distraction, and the more energy you direct toward your devices, the less energy you direct toward whoever else is in the room. Start by designating these specific times as no-phone zones. Chances are you’ll feel happy with the change and go on to expand on it.
Make your bedroom a no-tech zone
If you use your phone as your morning wake-up call, keep it face down on the opposite side of the room (not your bedside table) or invest in a traditional alarm clock. Why? It’s easy to rely on it as before-bed reading material or reach for it when you can’t sleep. While it seems harmless, a study over at Harvard University recently found that looking at your phone in bed can disrupt melatonin production, sleep quality and mood.
Additionally, if you have a partner in bed with you, phones can get in the way of intimacy. In a recent survey that surveyed 2,000 people, 33 percent said technology has interfered with their sex life. Another 30 percent said their partner has been distracted by their smartphone in bed. Wait, it gets so much worse! 15 percent admitted that they would check a text or answer a call during sex. We highly recommend you fight the urge to reach for your phone now. Instead, make your bed a device-free zone and invite greater opportunities for intimacy — and sex. Oh, and you’ll also sleep better.
Put your digital detox on the calendar
Now that you’re less distracted by your phone throughout the day, make it a point to keep it put away even on your off time. Every so often, go on a digital fast. Use this time to recharge your brain, forget about unrealistic ideals of life, stop doing things for the ‘Gram and just live in the moment. Plan periodic digital fasts and treat them as any other important event in your calendar: Set a time and stick to it. Commit to a weekly digital break (maybe an hour at first, then work your way up to a whole day) and see how your phone slowly becomes an afterthought. Once you’ve seen a change in your mood, productivity and quality of life, chances are you’ll stop scheduling digital detoxes, they’ll just be a way of life.