A digital detox is where you decide to part company with as many of your digital gadgets as you can cope with. Ideally all of them but if this is the first time you’ve done this and you’re nervous even at the thought of it then maybe just one or two.
We’ll look at some manageable ways to do a digital detox – none of the suggestions here will throw you into the wilderness and I’m not going to suggest turning yourself into a hermit. But they do involve some relatively small, hopefully manageable, changes to the way you interact with technology.
Start with an hour or two
Since looking at our phone screens helps to keep us awake at night, a good beginners digital detox would be to set your phone aside for the last hour or two before you go to sleep.
If you use your phone as your alarm clock, make sure it’s set and placed somewhere you can hear it when it wakes you in the morning. But ideally somewhere out of sight so you’re not tempted to have one last look at it before retiring for the night.
Make sure that the do not disturb mode is adjusted to take account of this change in your routine. Although if you still need to take certain important calls then you’ll need to adjust the settings for that as well.
See how you get on with this relatively small change for a week or so – it’s a bit like a diet where you’re only allowed to eat within certain times except this applies to your phone.
Reduce your screen time generally
Reducing your screen time is a good idea whether you’re detoxing from technology or just trying to get your life back.
Some people seem to have an almost umbilical link with their phone and it can be disconcerting to part company with it.
If you don’t think you can resist the temptation, install an app that will enforce your new rules. Ideally with a passcode set by a trusted friend so that you can’t “accidentally” change the settings.
Change your notification settings
Notifications were supposed to be helpful and if they’re rare enough that’s still the case.
But if the bleeps and tones from your notifications could almost be translated into morse code, you’ve definitely got too many of them.
Ideally, turn off notifications altogether.
If that’s too much of an ask, prune them down so that on a busy day you don’t get more than one or at most two an hour, ideally less.
This is a permanent change that’s well worth making. Which means that the length of time this part of your digital detox should last is for the forseeable future.
Don’t use your phone while eating
I know you like to post photos of your food to Instagram and that’s maybe allowable. But only if you put your phone away for the rest of the meal.
That means don’t text other people while you’re eating and definitely don’t have conversations on the phone with them.
Ideally, put your phone in a pocket or a bag. That way it’s a conscious effort to get it back which should give your mind the chance to remind you that you’re detoxing from that digital device while you’re on a meal break.
Go old school
Real books are more interactive than their electronic equivalent.
That’s not just the feel of the book or the fact that you can turn over the corners of pages or put in bookmarks. Studies suggest that we actually process printed information better than its digital equivalent.
OK, there’s not the immediate gratification of downloading and starting reading immediately. But it’s worth the wait.
Have a digital spring clean
This is another ongoing process.
If you’re on an email list where the only thing you do with the emails is press the delete key, stop for a few seconds and find the unsubscribe link (there should be one, if not train your email program to treat it as spam) and click the link.
And if you have some emails that you look only look at occasionally, set up a separate folder and send them there.
Likewise get rid of any apps that you’ve installed but haven’t used in a month of Sundays. Apart from anything else this will make finding your lesser used apps a bit easier.
Get your mind on your side
If you’re spending too much supposedly quality time with your digital devices, your mind isn’t on board with the idea of a digital detox.
That’s perfectly normal – it thinks it’s being helpful by glueing you to the screen.
But it’s not good!
Listen to this hypnosis audio to help you get your mind back on your side.