I've been thinking about my reliance on electronic devices for a while now. I read somewhere that the average person checks their phone 200 times a day, or every 6 and a half minutes, which when you see it written down like that, is completely ludicrous - I actually bet that my aimless phone browsing is contributing to how unproductive I can be! So combined with that, my talk about self-improvement in my 7 Ways To Start Your Year Right post, and in the spirit of wellness and wellbeing for 2017, I've been thinking about how to divert wasted time away from my phone/iPad/etc to things considerably more meaningful and positive - not to mention how many fewer headaches I'd suffer from.. so keep reading for my thoughts and tips on how to start and maintain a digital detox.
M A K E L I S T S
As with all troubleshooting in my opinion, I think you've got to firstly assess how bad your situation really is! Make a list of the gadgets you own and use, to see how dependent you are on technology, and then make another list of hobbies, activities and people you'd like to attribute more time to. Having things down on paper really helps me to visual how I could be better spending my time.
T H I N K A B O U T W H A T Y O U C A N G I V E U P C O M P L E T E L Y
If there's anything in the list that jumps out at you for being a complete waste of time, that's an easy one to cull. For me for example, whilst I still have an account for 'emergency purposes', I stopped using Facebook a few years ago and have found that that was an excellent decision - I dislike the platform/their ethos greatly anyway and the temptation to just 'FB message' people rather than meeting up or giving them a ring was enough to turn me off it completely.
G I V E Y O U R S E L F A D A I L Y A L L O W A N C E
Rather than using your devices completely freely during the day, try giving yourself set and distinct periods - eg whilst you're exercising, 30 minutes during lunch, or an hour in the evenings to keep up with your blog. Even at weekends, on a 'blogging day', I'm finding it easier to allow myself say 2 hours for taking photographs, and then 3 hours to write up a post or two. I've found that concentrating on just one thing at a time rather than multitasking with my phone throughout the day means I'm more productive too.
M A K E R U L E S F O R Y O U R S E L F
If you're trying to achieve a general decrease in electronic device dependency, try incorporating little rules for yourself to abide by day to day. Whether it's checking your emails no more than every 3 hours, only having one tab open on your browser at a time, or going for a walk every lunch time to escape the screens, habits form after around 3 weeks, and these will slowly become completely routine for you. My new one is going to be no screens once I've gone to bed - because lying around with the iPad before I sleep is really not helping!
O U T O F S I G H T , O U T O F M I N D
This is so obvious I feel like I'm cheating you slightly by giving it as a tip! But if your phone (substitute with any of your devices) isn't there, you won't use it. So don't make life hard for yourself by having it within range (or at least put it on Airplane Mode) when you're 'not supposed to be using it' (eg during quality time snuggling with your loved one, a meeting, a family get-together). You could try creating a 'gadgets holder/corner' where all your gadgets can sit safely out of the way. Also it's amazingly freeing to go for a walk in the country or pop down to the shops without it, that's something I love doing.
B O O K A G A D G E T - F R E E W E E K E N D A W A Y
If it's something more than small lifestyle changes you're looking to make for your everyday life, then you should definitely consider taking a break from technology altogether - in the delicious form of having a relaxing weekend away, free of social media and emails! I'm allowing cameras because I'm generally snap-happy, but for goodness sake leave your laptops at home and don't even think about writing up blog posts whilst you're away! Pick somewhere beautiful, perhaps a country manor, with in house spa and woodland copses and sandy beaches a short drive away. And of course take a special someone with you to share the quality time.
D O N ' T G E T S U C K E D I N T O S O C I A L M E D I A
Don't get me wrong - social media can be great, and I'm so grateful to have met some wonderful people via it (Instagram is a particular favourite!) but social media, I feel, is a bit of a potential life-trap and can have more negative effects that positive ones if you're not careful. It's all too easy to start feeling down comparing yourself to everyone else's 'perfect Instagram lives' (which is most likely, a curated, heavily edited snippet of their life), and it's the easiest way in the world to waste hours of time, just scrolling through Twitter or Insta feeds, with nothing to show at the end of it. Don't worry about feeling like you need to fit in by utilising social media every hour of the day. I see bloggers that seem to be online 24/7, commenting on every last post, and whilst I admire their dedication, I can't help but think their 'offline life' must just be a bit empty - because I don't think you can sustain both in that way - I certainly can't! Whilst social media is both fun and useful, just don't let the number of followers you've lost or what your stats are take your focus away from what's really important in life.
B A B Y S T E P S
It's unquestionable that technology has become embedded into our everyday lives - so much so that we barely even notice how much we use it. My point being - don't fret about struggling with your digital detox! And don't try and take on too much at once - try to focus on making small, sustainable lifestyle changes rather than worrying about being a perfectionist about it all. Every little step you take helps, and you'll soon start reaping the benefits - feeling less frazzled from staring at screens all day, spending more time with your significant other (mine's already thankful for my changes!), having more time to do the things you want to, it's all uphill from here!
Let me know if you're looking to lessen your tech-addictions this year and any tips you'll be following - we can do it guys!
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