Technology is designed to make everyday life that much easier. From brushing up on the daily news to chatting with our closest friends, there's a device, website and app that allows us to keep on top of things at the touch of a button. Though, as technology sneaks into every aspect of living, it's easy to lose track of how dependant we've become on needless online activities.
With the year hurtling toward a speedy finish, now might be the perfect time to take stock of how much time you really spend online. If any of the following sounds like you, it may just be time to plan a digital detox ...
1. You check your devices first thing when you wake up.
2. You keep your phone next to you on the table during meals.
3. You constantly check your phone for updates while eating.
4. The thought of losing your phone causes panic.
5. The thought of shutting your phone off for any amount of time make you nervous.
6. Your friends and loved ones complain that you're on your devices too much.
7. Social media cause negative feelings about your own life.
8. You spend more time checking up on acquaintances or strangers online than communicating with your real friends.
8. You've put off or given up on hobbies because of the amount of time you spend online.
9. Your attention span for non online activities is growing shorter and shorter.
10. Your sleep patterns have been interrupted because of your desire browse websites or social media.
11. You find it difficult to concentrate on other daily activities.
12. When something makes you happy or excited, your first thought is to post it on social media.
13. You regularly lose track of time while you're on your devices.
14. You get irritable when people try to speak to you while you're on your devices.
15. You check your devices last thing before you go to sleep.
As mentioned, technology is a normal part of everyday living, which makes it pretty difficult to cut out completely. This is especially true if the mere idea of being without your phone for any period of time causes anxiety. There are plenty of resorts that specialise in digital detox, allowing guests to retreat and learn to relax without their devices. But, if you're not quite ready to go that far, the best approach is to take your detox in baby steps.
1. It's the little things that count
Simple changes to your routine can help in big ways. For example, don't use your phone as an alarm clock. Instead, purchase an analogue alarm clock to avoid the temptation of scrolling through your emails and updates first thing in the morning.
2. Out of sight, out of mind
This step is twofold: minimise all of the apps on your phone to the bare essentials. Without all of those social media apps and games sending your push notifications, you'll be less tempted to continually grab your phone for a squiz.
Second, put your phone away. If you're the type to check for updates while you're eating breakfast, lunch and/or dinner, put your phone in another room while you eat. If you can't focus on a conversation because you're being tempted by an incoming text, toss your phone in your bag.
3. Switch off work afterhours
Perhaps one of the biggest anxieties about logging off is the prospect of missing out on an important work email or phone call; however, it's important to make and keep boundaries to maintain a healthy work/life balance. If you use a work phone, shut it down when you leave the office. If you get work emails on your personal phone, set your out of office reply and turn off your push notifications.
4. Set up some rules
In an effort to minimise your time on your devices, set up some rules around when and how long you can use them. Declare 'no phone zones' around your home and office (such as the dining table or lunch room) and define 15 minute blocks when it's acceptable to get online to brush up on the latest news. More than setting the rules, though, commit yourself to sticking to them. Discuss your rules and digital detox plan with those around you so there is always someone to hold you accountable if you falter.
5. Just one day
As you start to get more comfortable with being sans phone or computer, up the ante by dedicating one day per week completely device free. Put your phone and tablet away and shut down the computer and focus your attention on other, more important things in your life. It's worth planning a full day of activities so you have something to focus on other than your missing devices. Schedule a coffee or lunch catch-up with friends. Take the kids to the beach. Or work off the tension with a morning jog or yoga session.
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