Way back in October last year, I posted about how I’d survived a ‘Digital Detox’. This was recently stumbled onto by BBC Radio 5, and I did a small piece on radio about digital detoxes – today I’m expanding on things, and giving you a few pointers on how to take one.
Think about everything you do day to day. How many times do you pick up something like a phone, or laptop to do that? How many times do you press the action button on your phone to check your notifications? How many hours do you lose laid in bed, watching Twitter scroll by? Or are you like me, a serial fiddler when it comes to waiting rooms.. My phone has become a comfort for me at times when I’m anxious or feeling worried. Even having it in my hand is enough sometimes to make me feel more at ease.
A school in Gloucestershire have recently undertaken the Digital Detox challenge, so – why don’t you?
Step One: Find Your Balance
A Digital Detox is a huge personal thing. What works for one person might not work for another, and you really need to keep that in mind. When I first began detoxing, I tried a week and it was way too much.. I felt isolated, alone and anxious. So my balance is taking one weekend a month where I’m completely offline. It doesn’t sound like much, but 48 hours without feeling pressured to check my notifications or e-mails works wonders.
Step Two: Make it Manageable
If you have to start slowly, do it. Quit one app at a time if you have to – as I mentioned previously, jumping in head first can be a really scary prospect so try make sure you have your own interests in mind. Undertaking a detox then failing won’t do your well being any good at all.
Some people choose to delete applications from their phone completely, some move them to a restricted folder. I don’t work well with either of those methods, and tend to just leave my phone upstairs instead of in my bag when we go out, but everyone has different methods.
Step Three: Give Yourself A Break
Make a checklist of things you need to do, the day before your detox. I find posting about it the day before gives me that extra kick up the bottom to stick to it. Here are my tips for that day before preparation:
– Put your out of office e-mail on
– Prepare your social media if you feel you have to – I have an instagram graphic (below) that I use to signal my offline status so people know why I’m offline!
– Schedule your social media if that’s relevant to you – as a blogger I tend to schedule a lot, so having a few automated tweets going out when I’m ‘afk’ is important. I recommend Buffer for this.
Step Four: Lets Do This!
Okay, so its the morning of your detox and you already have the pains to check your twitter feed. Make yourself busy – go have a cup of tea, pick up a book, spend time with your loved one. If I’m going out for the day, I put my attention into taking photographs and enjoying myself – it makes me feel as if I’m preparing for those first days back online when I do, which makes it a little less daunting. Tell your friends what you’re doing, go out to the pub, walk the dog.. The possibilities are endless as you aren’t tethered to that technology.
Step Five: The Aftermath
Okay, so its the ‘online’ day.
How do you feel?
If you didn’t stick out the full time you set yourself – well done! You still attempted it, and that really is the first step, and you can build on that. Knowing your limits is important during this kind of undertaking, and now you know.
Reflect on the time you did spend offline, and think about how you used that time positively – or how you could use it positively next time.
This is a good time to think about the applications or functions you do use your phone for – after all, we don’t use phones for simply calling or texting anymore. We use them as food diaries/calorie counters, pedometers, trackers, social media hubs, cameras, video players… I found after losing my tech for a few days I was able to snip down my social media apps, and I was able to reduce the things I did use my phone for.
Will You Give The Digital Detox A Try?
Let me know if you do – I’d love to hear how you did!