Feeling the need for a little digital detox? Our phones and screens are such a blessing at times. I know my greatest love for my phone is that I no longer get lost!!
However, screens sometimes take from us way more often than they are giving. We are losing the ability to make connections with other people. We are forgetting how to have conversations. And while we watch things on our screens, we are missing the experiences happening right in front of us.
Don’t get me wrong, I too love my phone, my smart TV, and all the benefits of technology. Going cold turkey or completely off-grid is a no-go for me. We’re past that.
Sometimes though, I want a break from it all. If you are looking for a digital detox, here are some ideas. Maybe don’t do them all but pick one thing to try this week. See what you think about it. Did you enjoy being tied down to your devices a little less?
Here are just a few digital detox ideas you can practice this week (without going completely off-grid):
Delete social media from your phone’s home screen
I’m not brave enough to even try to pause my social media. It’s a little embarrassing, but I’m just not there. However, I can greatly reduce my time on social media by deleting the app from my phone’s home screen.
When you delete the app, does this mean it’s gone forever? Nope. It’s still there. It’s just not easily assessable. It’s not a quick bored swipe and boom… you just lost an hour scrolling.
Give it a try. Then, go do something with that hour you aren’t wasting in the endless scroll while you try to find the end to Facebook.
Plug in your phone
Do you really need your phone with you while you go from room to room? How about when you go the bathroom? (I’m not judging you. Just admit it.)
When you are home, plug in your phone and then leave it there. Now, you know where your phone is located, you will still hear phone calls and texts come through, but you won’t accidentally end up in an endless scroll or down some internet rabbit hole.
Put your phone in your purse (or pocket)
Look around next time you are somewhere with other people. Phones have become an extension of people’s hands. They are always there. If they aren’t in their hands, they are sitting next to them, in their back pocket, or somewhere close by and in view.
Out and about, put your phone in your purse or your pocket. You don’t have to have it in your hand the whole time. You don’t need to constantly check the time. And for goodness sake, you don’t have to check your messages or social media when talking with a friend.
Engage with the people around you. Yes, even engage with strangers. You might just make a new connection!
Keep a notepad handy
I’m super guilty of going down rabbit holes on the internet. Think of a random question with an unknown answer. No worries! You can pull out your phone and learn everything there is to know about that topic with just a few clicks.
I love the internet and the ability to look nearly anything up. However, this pursuit of knowledge comes at a cost of precious time.
What’s the smallest country in the world? I don’t know; let’s look it up. Hey, let’s see what it costs to visit there. What language do they speak? Etc., etc., and down the rabbit hole I go.
If you have a thirst for knowledge and love having the world wide web at your fingertips, keep a notepad handy. When you think of these random questions, write them down. Then, later, if you truly want to know and have the time, come back to them. I always think learning is better than endless scrolling!
Get a dumb phone
OK, maybe this one is too extreme. I get it. I haven’t taken this leap yet. However, I have met people who have downgraded to a dumb phone, and they tell me they won’t ever go back.
How do you get around? GPS. Going all the way back to the year 2000 here.
How do you look things up? On a computer… or gasp, in a book.
What do you listen to for music/podcasts/audiobooks? The radio. Or, one friend had an MP3 player.
I know when my kiddos finally get a phone, it will be a dumb phone. I hope to give them a little more time to learn about the world through experience before I put the whole world into their hands to be found online.
Bonus of getting a dumb phone? It’s a whole lot cheaper! You no longer have to pay for a data plan.
Set up your phone to limit your time on apps
Got an iPhone? Go to the Settings on your phone and scroll to Screen Time. Next, you will see App Limits. You can add some here. You can also schedule downtime on your phone, which forces you to take a break from any apps or features so you can rest.
Got the Google store? Digital Wellbeing works on Google devices and helps control your wasted time on your phone too.
Get your phone out of your bedroom
If you battle going to sleep, going back to sleep, or delaying getting out of bed because of time with your phone, maybe it’s time to make your bedroom a no-phone zone.
I get it. Our phones are our connection to the world, our alarm clocks, and even our sleep apps! However, I promise, if you get your phone away from the bed, you will sleep better.
Where do you put it then? You have options where it can still be your alarm and not by the bed.
You can plug your phone into an outlet in the hallway, right by your door. If that’s too far, plug it in at least 10 feet from your bed. If that’s still too hard, at least plug it in and set it on the floor, next to your bed. Whatever you do, get it away from easy access and let yourself sleep peacefully!
Create no-phone zones
If you want a serious digital detox, then create times and spaces where phones are not allowed.
Want a few easy ideas? Make these areas a no-phone zone:
Your car. OK, it’s your GPS. Then put your phone on driving mode, and don’t take any messages or calls.
Got kids? They are watching. They may not be old enough to drive, but they are learning from you. In fact, you can ask your kids to hold you accountable and call you out if you go to grab your phone while driving.
The kitchen table. Nothing says ruined family time around the table like everyone holding their phones and not talking. If you are eating, even if eating alone, put your phone elsewhere. Don’t even let it touch the table! Enjoy your food and the people you are with, all without the distraction of a screen.
At your kid’s activities. OK. I’m bad at this one. Some of my kids’ activity practices are BORING. In fact, I’m writing this article, right now, at a practice.
However, there are times when I’m asked to “please watch”. If so, I’ll either pop in an audio book or I’ll chat with the other parents. Admittedly, chatting is sometimes hard…as everyone is on their phones! Gosh, the Catch-22s we create for ourselves.
The 30 minutes after you or your spouse gets home from work (or your kids get home from school). This isn’t actually a space but a time period. When you or your spouse gets home from work, (or when your kids get home from school) take just thirty minutes to be home.
Turn off the TV
Ask each other about your days. Catch up on any events. Give each other your full attention. You haven’t been together for hours. Soak it in. You may learn something about them you didn’t even know if you hadn’t taken the time to connect.
Commit to no TV mid-week. You don’t have to get crazy and cancel all your subscriptions (although you might want to after your detox). Just give yourself a break. We are busy enough throughout the weeks. We don’t need late-night binge-watching keeping us from spending time with our family, getting that project done that’s been looming over our heads, or preventing us from getting good sleep.
A pain-less digital detox
If you want to try a digital detox, don’t make it painful. It’s hard to go completely cold turkey. Yet, you can try one or two suggestions above. If they work, maybe the next week you add in another.
We live in a world of digital wonders, and I believe it’s here to stay. The question is, can we make our digital lives work for us, rather than let our devices control us? We still need to live our lives, experience the joys of connection, and capture the moments right in front of us (and not through a screen).
Try a digital detox this week, and then, let me know how it goes!