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Need A Digital Detox? 10 Ways To Switch Off

Need A Digital Detox? 10 Ways To Switch Off

Considering most of us depend on our smart phones to wake us up in the morning, tell us the weather, and direct us to our next destination, having a digital or gadget free day (or hour) is no easy challenge. Technology has made life a lot more interconnected and convenient; however, it has also compelled its users (us) to feel a need to be switched on 24/7. Having to keep up with endless notifications coming from 10 different social media platforms can be stressful and exhausting. Let’s not even get started on emails.

If you struggle to break up with your phone for even two minutes, maybe it’s time to take action and treat yourself to a digital detox. Even if it’s just one hour a day, it can make a world of difference to your well-being and sanity.

Not sure where to start? Here are 10 ways to unplug and switch off. The goal is to be more productive and do more of what you love, minus the reliance and addiction to technology.

Be Ruthless With Your Smart Phone Notifications

Guilty of checking your phone every time someone mentions you on Facebook or tags you in a photo on Instagram? If self control is an issue here, do something drastic once and for all. Dedicate time slots throughout the day (or on weekends), where you turn of all incoming data notifications. Instead of spending your days with your head down, scrolling through feeds and feeds of information, why not fit in some quality face-to-face time to catch up with friends, family, or your significant other? If something’s urgent, people can still reach you by calling you. Don’t worry, your Facebook messages and Instagram tags aren’t going anywhere.

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Do a Digital Cull

Bite the bullet and delete all of the apps that you never use on your phone (or hardly ever use), as well as any unnecessary social media platforms. Unsubscribe from newsletters you’ve subscribed to, but usually delete before opening – they’re just adding to your digital clutter and causing unneeded stress.

Unroll.Me is a fantastic website to use for digital culling. Sign up to see a list of all your subscription emails – then unsubscribe instantly from whatever you don’t want with one simple click. Too easy.

Indulge in a ‘Wellcation’

Holidays are meant to be relaxing, but when you’re constantly on your phone Instagramming every perfect shot you can get and Snapchatting as you walk, it’s easy to get lost in the virtual world and forget to appreciate the moment by simply ‘being there’. If you’re ready for a break where you can unplug and de-stress, treat yourself to a ‘wellcation’ on your next getaway.

Book a flight to Fiji or any other island paradise where you can escape from the digital world, be out of range, and reconnect with nature. You will be so busy snorkeling, swinging on hammocks, getting massages, and drinking fresh coconuts by the pool, that your emails will be the last thing on your mind. If you need some extra help, the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa offers an Ultimate Business Break package where guests are able to surrender their devices to their personal butler.

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Get Smart with Emails

As most people would agree, emails can be the bane of one’s existence. Sure, it’s necessary, but it’s also a major time suck. Thanks to technology, we’re constantly ‘at work’, checking emails as soon as we wake up, when we’re on the go, on holidays, and even during meal times.

If all of the above sounds like you, it’s time to manage your emails, rather than letting your emails manage you. Set up an efficient email system where you only read your emails at set times during the day. You can also turn off all email notifications after hours and on weekends. Craft up response templates for generic or common emails to save time, and don’t be shy about setting out-of-office emails to set expectations.

Establish Some Social Rules

Ensure to practice digital etiquette when you are in company, including when you are on dates or simply having drinks with friends. This means turning your phone on silent or keeping your phone in your bag and focusing on the conversation. To make it fun, play ‘Phone Stack’, which is a game that takes place with a group of friends over a meal. Everyone must give up their phones and place them in the middle of the table. The goal is to see who can last the longest without their phone. Whoever caves first must suffer the consequences and pay the bill. Digital detoxes are easier when friends and money are involved!

Schedule Screen-Free Time

Everyday, allocate time slots in your calendar for non-negotiable screen-free time. When it’s written in your calendar you are more likely to commit to the time you have set aside and promised yourself. Treat it with the same importance as you would with a work meeting or a doctor’s appointment. Utilize this time to do whatever you wish that’s tech-free.

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Screen-free time can be as simple as reading a book in the garden for the afternoon or going out for a walk. Think of it as quality ‘me time’ or ‘down time’ – you just may be surprsied how much better you’ll feel aftwards.

Substitute Your Screens

In today’s digital world, we use our tablets to read a book and our laptops to watch movies on Netflix. Substitute these screens by visiting a book shop or organizing a night out during the week with your friends to see a movie at the cinema. You can essentially still have your fun but with less screens involved and more opportunities to interact with others.

Similarly, if at work, instead of hosting meetings or brainstorm sessions whereby everyone’s attached to their laptop screens, organize a stand up or outdoors meeting instead. Getting up and about with some fresh air can help introduce clarity of thought, resulting in more productive meetings and pleasant experiences.

Reorganize Your Bedroom

Creating a digital free sanctuary in your home is a great way to de-stress from your busy lifestyle. Your bedroom should be the ultimate zone to unplug and switch off after a long busy day. For this to work, set some ground rules. Remove all screens from your bedroom. The TV can stay in the living room, but your laptop or tablet should be out of sight. The same goes for your phone, where you can use an actual clock instead for your alarm. Invest in a comfortable bed, as well as some quality sheets and pillows. Introduce candles into the space and diffuse some essential oils every night. Do whatever it takes to design an environment that’s comfortable and relaxing – no gadgets involved.

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Find a New Hobby

If you normally fill your spare time with screen time, then you may need to seek out some new activities and hobbies to fill the digital void. Write a list of all the activities or side projects you’ve been meaning to do but never seem to have the time for, and start ticking them off one by one. Whether it’s trying out Pilates and Yoga, or taking up knitting or pottery class, now’s the time to do it. Opt for activities that don’t require access to technology and ask a friend to join you for added motivation.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

If you still need help, download the Big Red Stop on Google Play, a free digital detox app for your iPhone. If you feel like going offline for a while, all you need to do is press the big red ‘Stop’ button in the app which will let anyone who messages you know that you are taking a break and when you will be back online. Yes, it’s ironic that you’re leveraging technology to detach yourself from being switched on; but, hey, whatever works right?

Conclusion

A digital detox is all about the power of now and being present in the moment. So, next time you sit down to enjoy a sunset or get up to dance at a music gig, instead of getting your phone out to take the perfect shot, leave it in your pocket and simply enjoy the experience.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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