11 hours. That’s how much time the average adult is interacting with media per day. More specifically, another study found that 42 percent of the time Americans are awake, their eyes are fixated on the television, smartphone, computer, tablet, or another device. That comes out to 7,956 days over a typical lifespan. We can’t just turn it all off in this world we live in, but here is how to realistically go on a tech detox without destroying your whole schedule.
We don’t rely on tech to merely to keep us entertained. It’s become essential. After all, tech has drastically improved communication, networking, and work efficiency.
It can assist in employee engagement and discover new opportunities for growth. And, with an unlimited supply, tech is the most powerful tool to learn and gain valuable insights.
Why you need a tech detox.
At the same time, too much of good thing can be bad. And, tech is no exception because of the following reasons.
- It’s not good for your mental health. Technology makes us feel anxious and stressed. Another study shows that heavy technology use can lead to sleep disturbances and depressive symptoms — mainly because of FOMO and social comparisons.
- Being connected 24/7/365 makes it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
- Smartphone notifications and the internet are two of the biggest distractions in the workplace.
- Technology can make us lazy and negatively impact our eyesight.
- It’s negatively affecting our relationships because we are paying more attention to tech, then the person we’re currently with.
So, what’s the compromise here? I mean tech has become an integral part of our lives. But, it also has its faults. So, the easiest solution may be going on a digital detox.
Don’t get too hung up on the term here. A digital detox is simply a period of time when you unplug and disconnect from your electronic gadgets. And, by doing so, you can counter those negative effects — and rebalance.
Here’s the problem though. Doing a digital detox can also destroy your schedule. Can you just imagine the chaos it would cause if your family, business partners, employees, or customers couldn’t contact you for several days? Additionally, you probably need technology to get your work done and accomplish your goals.
1. Put it on your calendar.
Like anything else that you really want to do, whether it’s getting work done or starting a new hobby — you have to make time for any additions. And, the same is true when disconnecting. You’ll have to make time for the disconnect.
Making time for this effort will be a challenge. So, start small. Let’s say that you’re using a productivity hack like the Pomodoro Technique. During the times you’re not working go on a min-detox. Even ten-minutes would suffice since the world isn’t going to burn down in such a small amount of time. Even better, that time can be spent going for a walk, resting your eyes, or meditating.
I’d also suggest that you designate tech-free times — such as when eating meals or the first hour after getting home from work.
From here, gradually work your way up. Are you going on a weekend getaway? Great. That’s a perfect time to go off the grid for a day or two. You’ll know this time in advance, you can give everyone a head’s up, and you prepare for the shutdown. You could even create an out-of-office message notifying people when you’ll be returning. But you’ll have to get ahead on your work, or this won’t work for you.
2. Block apps at certain times.
Completely turning off your devices, particularly your phone can give some a serious anxiety attack. I’m not being facetious either. The main culprits for this are FOMO and that a lot of people view their phones as an extension to themselves.
Researchers believe that “defined and protected” periods of smartphone separation “may allow consumers to perform better, not just by reducing interruptions but also by increasing available cognitive capacity.” Adding these expected periods in your calendar is a start. But, so would blocking distracting apps at certain times.
There a number of apps that allow your set time limits or screen time on your Android or iOS device. For example, you could shut down your social media apps when focusing on deep work. Other apps let you set a schedule. In this case, you could block work-related apps or sites during family game night or when embarking in your evening routine.
3. Designate tech-free zones.
Examples of a tech-free zone would be an unused office that you or employees could use to mediate or nap-in or lunchroom. At home, a tech-free zone might be your dining room or bedroom.
Besides banning electronics from these areas, which makes it easier to unplug, it shouldn’t interfere with your schedule. The reason? You probably have scheduled times to be in these zones. For instance, if you’re lying in bed until it’s time for sleep or waiting to eat a meal until you’re on a break — you can accomplish another activity in this timeframe.
4. Incorporate boredom into your day.
Sometimes we get glued to our gadgets because we’re bored. For example, you’re waiting in a line to pay for your groceries or for a meeting to start. Instead of just sitting there, you scroll through your phone or tablet.
Like exercising, start building your boredom muscle. Keep your phone in your pocket and let your mind wander. As a result, this will make you more creative, self-aware, goal-oriented, and productive.
5. Get less social.
It’s unlikely that you can permanently quit social media. But, there are ways to reduce the time spent on these channels.
For starters, remove the apps from your phone so that you aren’t getting bombarded with notifications. If this isn’t an option, then at least remove the apps from your home screen so that you aren’t tempted to look at them.
Secondly, you may want to do a little spring cleaning and delete the accounts you aren’t using. Even glancing and using brain power passing over apps or accounts you don’t use, uses up seconds of brainpower. Snapchat may have been cool a couple of years ago when all your friends signed-up. But, now it’s an unused app because they got tired of it. I need this app because of my family, but you may not need it.
Thirdly, automate or delegate recurring tasks related to social media. You could use a tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to schedule social posts. Or, you could assign this responsibility to someone else.
Finally, block out specific times to log on. Ideally, this would be before work, after lunch, and after work. It’s a simple way to fight back against FOMO, while also limiting your usage.
6. Keep your inbox in check.
The average person spends five hours a day on email. What’s more, 13% said that they check their inbox while still in bed. And, 25% of Millennials and Gen X admitted that they check their work emails multiple times a day while on vacation.
To keep your inbox in check so that it’s more manageable, block out specific times to go through it. A perfect time would ben when updating your social accounts. You could set up filters, labels, and unsubscribe from newsletters that you never open.
You should also find ways to reduce the number of messages being sent. One way would be to use “EOM” at the end of your subject line. Standing for “end-of-message,” this lets the recipient know that there’s no need to respond.
You could also use a tool like Calendar. Sure. It’s not an email-specific app. But, it’s a scheduling tool that eliminates those back-and-forth communication when planning a meeting.
7. Spend more time in places where electronic devices aren’t permitted.
Yes. There are still some places where digital devices aren’t embraced with welcome arms. For instance, a yoga class or a place of worship. Even locations like coffee shops and libraries can at least limit your usage. Let’s say that you’re productive at a local coffee shop. You may need to be on your laptop. But, taking a phone call or not silencing your notifications will definitely earn you some dirty looks.
8. Schedule a call or one-on-one.
The other day I had a colleague text me a question. As I went to respond, I realized it would be more efficient and less consuming if I just called him. And, that’s exactly what I did. Instead of exchanging texts all day, it took me all of five minutes to answer the question.
9. Be respectful of others’ time.
As I’ve mentioned, technology can be distracting. But, that’s just not when you’re trying to work. It’s also during meetings or talking to others. Think about it. There’s someone speaking and your attention is elsewhere. That’s rude and can bring things to halt since you’re missing key information and have to constantly ask the other party to repeat themselves.
10. Go old school.
Finally, stop relying on technology so much. I know it’s awesome. But, as opposed to jotting down notes on your phone’s notepad, use a pen, paper, or a whiteboard. The reason? It will prevent you from getting sucked into an app.
Another option would be to use an alarm clock and not your phone to wake-up. The same can be said of using your old wristwatch instead of a smartwatch. And, think about printing out your calendar or using a paper calendar so that you can see what your schedule is like without being reliant on tech.