I set out on a Digital Detox and the opposite happened. Kind of. My number one takeaway was maybe it’s not how much time we’re spending using technology as much as where and how we are spending the time. My mind was blown with this online exercise. Now, I’ve been doing it at least once a week for the past two months.
That said, cutting back on the amount of time I spent using technology and social media has been an objective of mine to “simplify my life”. After having a conversation about this topic, ironically on Twitter, speaking with many people and trying various methods I netted out with a list of things that have worked. Tried and tested. To feel more in control over my time spent using technology and social media and in effort to address my digital fatigue, I’ve implemented the following crowdsourced tips.
Digital Detox Tips:
- The Unfollow Exercise: We all have those moments when we scroll through our feed on a social media channel and cringe when we see certain people. Either they annoy us, they’re constantly negative or we never did really know them or like them to begin with. Do yourself a favor: UNFOLLOW. If you have the physical “ugh” reaction when you see their updates, then simply remove them from the equation. It’s incredible how powerful those moments of negativity can be. They can dictate our moods. Peace is one click away. Don’t let people rent space in your head for free. It’s valuable real estate.
- Set Triggers & Limit Access: To be more intentional about when you look at social media networks on your phone, put your social apps on the back page/screen of your phone so you have to willingly flip to the back page in order to get to them. Hopefully, this process starts to serve as a trigger and you’re able to catch yourself. Some people I spoke with even deleted the app from their phone and set up adult restriction blockers on their laptop.
- Turn Off Push Notifications – both visual and audible. All of the sounds – the buzzers, rings, updates, etc. They’re one of the top distractions not only to you but the people around you. I realized how annoying these notifications were and I turned everything off except silent text message notifications. I rarely have any audio notifications enabled. Try it. You can always revert back to the buzzing if needed.
- Digital Dead Zones: These are like No Fly zones. There are certain times and places when it doesn’t make sense to be using your phone or laptop. For example, don’t bring your phone or laptop to bed. Again it’s a distraction for not only you but the people around you. Studies
show that the lumens from the screen impact our ability to sleep. For many people, the first thing they do when they wake up is look at their email, facebook, Instagram, twitter, etc. This allows the outside world potentially dictate your mood before your feet even hit the floor. During meals is another time to refrain from being on your phone or laptop. How many times have you seen people having dinner at and they are all on some sort of digital device – not saying a word to one another.
- Manage Expectations. Turn your ‘Out of Office’ email notification bounce back message on when you’re done working on Friday and before you begin working Monday morning. Then don’t check your email. If it’s not possible to not check your email at least the person sending you messages will be notified that’ you’re out of pocket and they won’t expect a response right away. I spoke with someone who started doing this and instead of being on email they’re using the time to read books and learn about new things.
- Gamify Your Detox: Add some competition and reward to the process. Example: while at dinner, have everyone stack their phones in the middle of the table. The first person to grab for their phone has to pay for the entire bill.
- Selfish Serotonin If you have a few free moments, try asking your social media audience how you can help them. Serve up some good old serotonin! It sounds fluffy but I bet you it makes you feel good and you end up doing it more than once.
I’m still experimenting but what I’ve come to realize is that we need to evaluate what a healthy relationship with technology looks like for ourselves. This includes both HOW MUCH time we spend using technology but also HOW and WHERE we are spending that time. How does it make us feel? That’s a question I’m asking myself more often in general.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on these topics. Please share any insight you may have!