I know I’m not alone in this. We are being completely engulfed by technology and social media. I constantly check my phone…even when I haven’t heard it beep with a notification. Your phone is probably within an arms length from you this very minute. My dependency really hit me hard one Sunday morning…I was having coffee in the lounge catching up on Facebook gossip while my son was building his farmyard. He kept asking me to help him but I was too engrossed in nonsense, telling him ”later baby”. It suddenly dawned on me – what example am I setting for him? I felt sick to my stomach; I am choosing other people’s drama and fake news over my own son? That’s the moment when I decided it’s time for a change. It’s time for a digital detox.
This unhealthy dependency on our smart phones is destroying our relationships and it’s ultimately affecting our self-worth (an entire post on its own!). I have put together 5 suggestions to help you reduce your dependency on screen time. The suggestions below are just that…suggestions! Some might work for you and others not. But if you are serious about being more present in your own life as well as for those around you, I strongly encourage you to take a stand against the screen-addiction.
1. Buy an old-school alarm clock
Start the day on the right foot! Make your bedroom a phone-free zone. Buy one of those old-school alarm clocks so you don’t need that as an excuse to have your phone in your room. Honestly, the first thing I used to do when I opened my eyes in the mornings was reach for my phone! And, you know what…I never actually missed out on anything during the night. My phone is still switched on but it’s in my drawer or in the kitchen so I am still available for emergencies.
2. Notifications – off!
Switch off notifications for social media and apps like WhatsApp so you don’t get distracted by all that beeping. You know the cycle…phone beeps, pick it up and read the message, respond, remember that you wanted to check in with someone else, head over to Facebook quick, watch a video of puppies on Youtube and before you know it 30 minutes have gone by! You’ll increase your productivity at work by limiting this distraction.
3. Limit usage and stick to the rules
When you have a coffee date with friends, a romantic dinner with hubby or any other social gathering, put your phone on silent mode and leave it in your handbag. Don’t put it out on the table…you’ll be so tempted to pick it up which will make your friend or other half feel unimportant and not worthy of your time. Put it out of sight. You’ll actually make eye contact instead of constantly glancing down at your phone. This will allow you to be present in the moment; you’ll engage more deeply with people and give more thoughtful insight to the conversation. Friends of mine have a no-phone rule during dinnertime which is also great. Meal times are the perfect opportunity to catch up on a deeper level so keep it tech-free. You could even make an unplugged-hour (or 2) rule every night and not just limit it to mealtimes.
4. Make genuine ”me time”
When was the last time you actually read a book? The paperback-kind! Set some time aside in the evenings or on a weekend when you do something just for you, without an audience or without telling the world about it. Switch to silent mode and leave your phone in another room so you aren’t distracted. Since October last year, I’ve applied a facemask every Sunday night and then I lie and relax on my bed. Ask friends for book suggestions, give yourself a pedi, join a pilates class or just soak in a bubble bath. This will give you valuable alone time to focus on yourself, reflect and recharge. It’s so important to unplug like this! At least once a year, go on an adventure with your girlfriends! Reconnect with your soul sisters and give your morale a boost. Be sure to make this a digital detox adventure too!
5. Full day detox
Pick a day of the week and start with a couple of hours of phone-free living. Sundays work well because this is typically a rest-day. Switch off your smart phone or leave it behind if you’re heading out. Progress slowly and soon you’ll be comfortable enough to say goodbye to your phone for an entire day. Try switching off for the entire weekend. You will probably find that you didn’t miss out on anything! The next step: Make your next holiday an unplugged one. By all means take your camera and capture some special moments but you don’t need to upload them to Instagram or Facebook right away. You could delete the apps from your phone (but not delete your accounts) for the duration of your trip to remove the temptation to hop online completely. Be 100% present and fully engaged while you’re on your dream trip! You’ve likely invested a lot of money and it would be a shame if you missed out on something because you were too busy reading meaningless gossip.
Ok, I must admit that initially a digital detox isn’t easy. I am only a few weeks into my new routine and sometimes it’s hard but I also feel quite liberated that I’m doing things on my own terms! Studies show that reducing screen time improves your sleep, memory and improves friendships. You only have one life, live it to the fullest and be fully present in everything you do. Let the challenge begin, all the best! Let me know how it goes! A