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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.