How long can you go without checking the notifications on your phone? Are you often suck into mindless scrolling of tweets and group chats and rushing to clear notifications due to the fear that you might miss out on an “important” text, tweet, or email?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then you are due for a digital detox.
A break from technology can help you recharge and give your brain some time to relax. You will be able to focus on other things other than the excess different types of important and trivial information you bombard it with on the daily basis. And no, you don’t have to pack a rucksack and live in the woods to do so!
Digital detox has many advantages. It is a great way to unplug not only if you are addicted to technology. It is also because almost everyone in today’s world is interacting with technology and being sucked into social media every day. In fact, numerous studies examine the terrible effects of overusing technology.
These adverse effects are seen in poor sleeping habits, low productivity, decreased self-esteem and even in poor communication and management of your relationships. Therefore, a digital detox every now and then is a great way to increase relaxation and happiness and allow yourself to recharge.
When many people think of digital detoxing, they believe it involves ditching technology, purging your social accounts and living off the grid! However, while that has worked for some people who entered the woods and never looked back, if you still want to stay connected, work and socialize, it is difficult to take the above steps.
Fortunately, digital detox involves taking some actionable tips to disconnect from technology every day, every week or month by taking time to focus on other things besides scrolling through your phone.
While it is a scary concept to relinquish your digital devices for whatever amount of time you have set for your detox, why not try now? After all, we are right into spooky season when embracing the scary and the strange is the fun thing to do!
Best believe that your detox will be a very rewarding experience. It helps you recover the time and attention you otherwise lose when you hop onto one tweet, one text, one article, and one video, which inadvertently turns into minutes or hours of jumping from the one to more.
Taking a deserved break helps you minimize distractions, something which is quite difficult to do if you are surrounded by all your digital devices. However, isolation is really not practical and neither is avoidance.
Moderating and balancing technology use is better and to get to the point where you can resist its allure and balance its use for work/fun with time for yourself. Then you can start off by taking a break.
Why You Need a Digital Detox
So, do you need a digital detox? Find out below:
You always spend more time than you intended
Do you hop onto your phone intending to check something really quick, then find yourself 30 minutes or an hour down the line chasing down the rabbit hole?
Technology is quite like quicksand, very easy to get into but quite challenging to leave. It is all too easy to get hooked after checking one social media post or one article and instead keeping scrolling down your social media news feed. Being aware of the use of your time on your digital devices is a good way to start as it will motivate you to find ways to contain your excessive use of technology.
You Experience Guilt and Dissatisfaction
Digital wellness is important and a digital detox will help you overcome the harmful effects of excess screen time as well as the bombardment of information.
As you continuously check social media activity and other online sites, it is important to realize that the reason why you end up feeling dissatisfied is because most excessive technology use has instant gratification but few long-term rewards.
The reason why you end up feeling guilty is because it is hardly time well spent because it is repetitive and time-wasting.
With digital detoxes, you will eventually learn how to use the internet in a purposeful and mindful way such that it will serve your need and not have you serving it. This then leads to more productivity and time for yourself and for connecting with people in real life instead.
You experience fear of missing out
The internet thrives on making you feel like you always need to be online to avoid missing updates. In fact, companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc. have psychologists on their payroll to structure their content and sites in such a way that you always want to be scrolling through.
There will always be new notifications and new updates every single second of the day on the vast internet. If you obey the call of every notification or update, then this means that you have lost control and are instead serving the interests of technology rather than your own. It is because you have developed a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) that allows you to get distracted very easily.
You tend to experience separation anxiety with your digital devices
Remember the sense of panic you feel every time you can’t find your phone? Well, this is separation anxiety. Sometimes it happens even while inside your home!
This means that you have become so dependent on your digital devices and experience the instant gratification of checking it every time it’s with you such that if you don’t see or feel it then you easily get into panic mode.
To combat this anxiety, you need to incorporate digital detox tips to reduce the amount of time you spend on your smart devices and the need to keep checking them such that they become less of a necessity.
You keep checking your devices
If you experience the overwhelming need to check your phone even while having conversations with your friends and family, then you’re in too deep!
Constantly being in-and-out of your conversations reduces the connection you have to your family and friends and even ruins special moments. Furthermore, interruptions also lead to major delays in completing your projects, whether at work or even your own personal projects.
After a distraction where you check your phone and scroll through notifications and updates, it can get very difficult to get back on the task you were on. In fact, on average, a study found that participants took around 23 minutes to get back working on their duties after a distraction.
If you find yourself checking your phone due to phantom vibrations as well as finding yourself wondering if your screen just flashed on, then again, you are ripe for a detox!
You find yourself with less-than-enough time in your day
Distractions and excessive technology use are massive time wasters. You might log on with the intention to log off in 15 minutes but find yourself working on texts and emails, messaging, posting and checking media two hours later! This can happen several times a day and the cumulative result is that you find yourself with way less time in your day to work on other projects that might be of interest to you.
At the end of the day, you will feel incredibly busy and stressed up trying to catch-ups. To avoid this, the trick is, of course, limiting your smartphone use not only to feel relaxed but also to finish your tasks and have more time available for other important matters.
You have some physical concerns
Yes, excessive screen time and technology use does not only adversely affect your time, mental health and productivity but also can result in physical rule. If you are experiencing back pain from being hunched over your computer or phone, and blurry vision, headaches and/or eye strain from too much screen time, then you need a digital detox!
How to perform a digital detox
So we have established that you do need to digitally detox, but how do you go about it? Even before we start on the why imagine the benefits you will gain after you reduce your attachment to digital devices.
You can finally finish that novel, or start on that hobby you have been putting off. And oh, that project you have been procrastinating on? Now you have time to tackle it with ferocious enthusiasm! You can go on that trip you always wanted to go on or just take time to get real and connected to your family and friends.
A digital detox will help you reclaim all the vast amounts of time you have been wasting surfing the internet and channel it to other useful things.
In fact, if you have also been meaning to turn your life around either by dedicating time to make more money or gain new skills, or even just reach out to friends and family more, then a digital detox can be the very first step to doing so.
Can you handle a digital detox?
It is only normal to feel some apprehension about your ability to succeed in digitally detoxing. However, if you start small and work up from small habits such as going without checking your phone first thing in the morning to not needing your smart devices as much, that is doable. So, no, you don’t have to ditch your phone for an entire month. The goal is to build habits and not really go cold turkey for days on end.
Make a list of all your smart devices and the time you spend on them
Let’s kick it off with some eye-opening motivation. Taking stock of the current use of technology as well as your screen time duration will help you do the math and see how much time you spend each day, week and month.
Be very honest and you will find the numbers quite a shock. Even just 3 hours a day adds up to a day lost every week! That is 12 weeks lost every year! Imagine what you could have done with 12 extra weeks last year!
Doing this taking stock part before you start your digital detox will let you know exactly how much time you waste, which is the time you are looking to reclaim for other things.
Make a list of things you’d do if you had time
Speaking of reclaiming time for other stuff, the next part of your digital detoxing process should be dedicated to making a list of things to do.
That is a question we all ask ourselves. What would we do when we stop using the internet. There are many amazing activities that will give you joy and allow you to be less dependent on technology.
For example, you can take up cooking and baking, writing, reading either by yourself or, if you need motivation, by joining a book club. You can also start dancing, take up board games, learn a new language, take up learning how to play a musical instrument of your choice, start drawing or painting, learn how to code, get into paper crafts, try gardening, sewing, knitting, podcasting, makeup and meditation.
Finally, you can also indulge in self-care, exercise and even carve up time to work on your side hustle! There is such a wide range of activities. If you do your research, there are even more depending on your enthusiasm and budget.
Decide your daily device use allowance
Like we mentioned earlier, digital detoxing does not mean that you quit your technology use cold turkey forever or for weeks at a time. Yes, you can take a week without smart devices if it is doable, but for the most time, the longest you can go practically is a weekend of no device use due to work and social concerns.
However, to avoid using your devices excessively, you can have a daily allowance that help you get things done online but still limits your screen time.
Ask yourself what is the bare minimum amount of time you can spend on your smart devices without compromising on online work, safety and convenience. This can become your daily allowance meaning your device use should not exceed this time limit. You can give yourself two weeks to try the detox and then scale up every time you hit your goal.
Analyze how you feel and your accomplishments
While on your detox, make some time each day to check in with yourself and see what you have accomplished and how you are feeling. You will probably notice that you are more focused, calmer and consume less shocking news. This will make you feel validated and motivated to continue on this trajectory.
How to do a digital detox on holiday
There are many ways to try a digital detox but one of the best times to do it is while you are on vacation. Vacation time presents more time and opportunities for offline things, which makes this time one of the best ways to do a digital detox and start some habits that promote digital wellness.
We use our screens for almost everything, from work, social connection, shopping or for fun. Limiting your screen time is easier during a vacation because there are more things that take your attention.
For example, say you are in a beach resort somewhere on an island in Thailand. Your concern will be to lap up the culture, try the cuisine, chase sunsets or sunrises on the beaches, go scuba diving and island hopping, actually visit the physical stores for shopping, try resort-offered yoga and other boot camps, etc.
While on vacation, therefore, it is easier to distract your mind from its need to check social media and emails. However, it is still incredibly hard to change your habits even while on holiday because they are ingrained. Indeed, smartphone addiction can be really hard to overcome, even while on vacation.
Fail to check an email and answer some questions? Ignore social media notifications and the urge to scroll through enticing Instagram posts? Easier said than done.
Therefore, you need to plan for a digital detox while on holiday to ensure that you are successful in staying away from your devices and, instead, communing more with your surroundings. Here is how you can achieve digital detox on holiday:
Change your mindset
Just like when letting go of any addiction or toxic habit, a change of mindset goes a long way to make you achieve digital detox. Develop an attitude that you can do without your devices and the need to be online all the time.
Convince yourself that smartphone abstinence will help you feel more relaxed and add to the authentic feel and experience of your holiday.
Set up automatic out-of-office messages
These notifications will automatically send an out-of-office message via messenger, email or WhatsApp whenever someone sends you a message. You can also turn off notifications on your digital devices because once you respond, you might find yourself drawn into a rabbit hole of continuous texting or scrolling.
Create a schedule
If you cannot be completely disconnected from your digital devices, then a great solution is to set an hour either at lunchtime or in the evening, where you can receive updates. Better yet, only use your phone selectively, such as only limiting yourself to using it as a camera, alarm clock, or travel diary.
Anytime you feel the need to log into social sites or use it for any other purpose, ask yourself if it is a matter of life death and, if not, put it away! There is still the risk of falling into continuous use with these two tips, but if you are determined enough, you can do it.
Switch to flight mode or do-not-disturb mode
Ensuring that you go offline is a great way to disconnect from the continuous use of your tech gadgets. This will not only save your battery life but also deter you from using your phone for social media and work while on your vacation.
Delete time-wasting apps
Some of the most time-eating apps, such as social apps, are the ones that keep you in the continuous trap of constant updates and rabbit-holes. Delete them before you travel to ensure there are fewer temptations to waste time.
If you relapse, forgive yourself, don’t give up and try again. Keep trying until it becomes a routine on your vacation that you can easily carry to normal life. Enjoy yourself and the higher quality of life and immerse yourself in your holiday.
Best digital detox phone
If you want to try something more drastic to help you reduce the amount of time you spend on your digital devices, then consider a digital detox phone.
What is a digital detox phone? This is a bare-bones phone that does not have the full functionality of premium smartphones and keeps you connected but not boggled down by the numerous time-wasting apps.
This kind of minimalist phone, such as a Nokia 3310 with 3G connectivity, is a good backup phone helpful in keeping contact but without the numerous notifications of a smartphone. This is especially great for day trips and vacations or times when you just want to detox from your digital devices but still maintain connectivity.
While using apps to help with digital detox such as Forest, and even keeping your home screen bare except for only the really essential apps can help, a digital detox phone is much better because, by default, there are not many apps and social notifications to distract you.
So if you are really struggling to maintain digital wellness, consider getting a phone with 3G connectivity, no social apps except perhaps if really necessary, WhatsApp, access to google maps, etc. This will help you detach from social media and reduce your screen time for better mental health.
In conclusion, despite conscious efforts to be more aware of your excessive smart devices use, it can be easy to get swept up by the information overload and beckoning distraction to the point that your use of technology becomes excessive.
This can rob you of time, wellness and relationships. However, taking intentional steps to take part in a digital detox will benefit you by freeing up more of your time and helping you become more calm, productive, and connected to real-life family and friends.