So, what have you got on your list of new year’s resolutions for 2020? I don’t really bother making resolutions as everyone knows they’re impossible to stick to. However, I always have the same general goals in my mind at the start of a new year like ‘eat healthier’, ‘exercise more’, ‘use my phone less’.
It can be hard to follow through with all of these and they usually don’t last very long! The hardest for me is using my phone less since I need to use it a lot for both my job and blogging. I’m going to really try to use it less in my ‘spare time’ though, which is going to be difficult as I am happy to admit that I’m slightly addicted to my phone!
If, like me, you are going to try a bit of a ‘Digital Detox’ this year, here are some tips that may help you to use your phone less…
What is a digital detox?
This is when you stop using devices such as smartphones, tablets, computers, and also social media for a while. “Detoxing” from digital devices helps you to focus on real-life without distractions and let go of some of the stress that comes from being online constantly.
Reasons to do a digital detox
Being online 24/7 has become normal for most of us, even those of us who grew up before smartphones and social media. Reasons to spend more time away from your phone could include:
- Enjoying more time with your family
- Enjoying more time to yourself
- Create boundaries between work and home life
- Living ‘in the moment’ rather than looking at life through a screen
- Leading by example for your children
- Stop comparing your life to those ‘perfect’ Facebook or Instagram photos
- To get more good quality sleep
- To generally improve your mental health
Signs you might need to do a digital detox
- You feel stressed or anxious when you can’t use your phone
- You feel the need to check your phone every few minutes
- You worry you’ll miss something if you don’t check your phone
- You obsess over the number of likes and comments on your social media posts
- You stay up late on your phone rather than sleeping
- You have trouble focusing on tasks because you get distracted by your phone
If any of this sounds familiar you might need to take a break from your phone, computer, and social media…
How to do a digital detox
Here are 8 tips on planning your detox from technology:
1. Set realistic boundaries
As mentioned above, if you need to use your phone or other devices for work it’s not realistic that you can get rid of your phone, laptop and any other devices completely. But it is possible to cut down on the amount of time you spend using them and improve your day to day life.
Start by setting out a schedule of when you have to use your devices – by ‘have to’ I mean for work, studying, etc rather than for nosing on what your friends are up to or watching cat videos! Pick a time each day that you’ll turn off your phone and laptop, setting an alarm will help you to stick to it.
2. Put your phone away
To stop yourself from being tempted to use your phone when it’s supposed to be off it’s a good idea to put it in a drawer or in another room – ‘out of sight out of mind’. Putting your phone away at mealtimes, when you’re watching a family movie, and when you get into bed at night can help you to cut down on phone usage.
3. Set social media time limits
How much time per day do you spend on social media? I think if you worked it out you’d be quite surprised – 10 minutes here and there throughout the day can add up to quite a few hours.
Did you know you can check how much time you spend on Facebook? Have a look now and see if it’s more or less than you expected.
Click on the three lines in the top right-hand corner on the app and scroll down to Settings & Privacy, then scroll down to Your Time on Facebook. There will be a bar chart showing your usage time displayed in hours and minutes per day, as well as the average amount of time you spend on Facebook per day.
In this section, you can also choose to receive a reminder when you’ve used up your chosen amount of time on Facebook. Once you know how much time you’re currently spending on social media you can choose a realistic time limit going forward.
4. Have a social media spring clean
It can be hard to follow what everyone is up to when you have hundreds of friends on social media or are following a lot of businesses or celebrities. Having a bit of a clear out of who you’re following can help by cutting down on the amount of updates you have to scroll through when you log into social media. You can stay friends with people on Facebook but ‘unfollow’ them without them knowing if you aren’t really bothered about keeping up to date with their posts but don’t want to cut them off completely.
Take this time to also unfollow or unfriend those people who’s social media updates cause you stress for whatever reason.
5. Turn off notifications
It can be hard to concentrate on work when your phone keeps reminding you of social media comments, emails, or the latest news alerts. If you have kids they’ve probably mentioned it when you’ve picked up your phone to check a notification during a movie, dinner, or day out.
Putting your phone on silent can be a good idea, but not always practical if you’re worried about missing important phone calls or messages from work or the kids’ schools. Try turning off push notifications for social media, emails and news so that you’re not tempted to check your phone during your ‘downtime’. Don’t forget to also turn off any notifications on your smartwatch if you have one. Set aside a limited amount of time each day to reply to comments or check your feeds rather than doing it throughout the day.
6. Make your bedroom a ‘no phone zone’
Do you find yourself looking at your phone in bed for an hour when you promised yourself you were having an early night? The blue light on screens tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime making it harder to drift off. You probably also find yourself scrolling through Facebook as soon as you wake up when you should be getting ready for work or the school run. If you were to leave your phone downstairs when you go to bed and buy an old fashioned alarm clock instead you might find that you get to sleep earlier and even have more time to get things done in the morning.
7. Tell people you’re doing a detox
I don’t mean announce it on social media, but if you’re trying to use your phone less it’s a good idea to let your family and friends know so they don’t worry if you take longer than normal to reply to a message. They can also help by giving you a friendly nudge if you pick up your phone when you’re not supposed to – kids are especially good at doing this!
8. Find other things to do
Most of us head straight to our phones when we have some free time, usually for something to do more than anything else. Instead, why not think of some things that you could do instead. Keep a book nearby so you can read a couple of chapters if you have a spare half hour, or maybe a crossword, writing, colouring, or whatever else people did before technology!
So, what do you think? Will you be trying to spend less time on your tech devices this year? If you’re going to give a technology detox a go – good luck!