New year, new me right? Well, let’s see about that. It’s that time of year again where we all reset and try to be a better version of ourselves. For most that could mean trying to spend a little less time in front of a screen because let’s be real given the overpowering addictive nature of smartphones, putting our devices down for an extended period of time has become difficult to near impossible. We’ve all done it, 11 pm laying in bed and you quickly go to check that notification that came in and an hour later you still cannot stop yourself scrolling Insta, checking your Tinder matches or worse still have jumped down a YouTube rabbit hole that will only end God knows when. Anyway if your the type who gets twitchy when your phone is low on battery, it may be the time to get some control, reconnect with yourself by disconnecting and try out some of our Top Tips to help you with your digital detox.
Find Out Your Usage
What’s your daily screen time number? Do you even know how many minutes a day you spend mindlessly scrolling? Check it out and then ask yourself seriously if you need to think about digital detox. This is important and a great first step. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending/wasting in front of the screen you can then start limiting your usage accordingly. This isn’t about banning everything just know where you’re at and where you would like to be…find the sweet spot if you will.
Pretty much every phone nowadays has a feature in the settings that will let you see your screen time and not going to lie when you see it that will probably be enough to force you to make some changes when it comes to your digital detox. If you can’t find your usage in settings then call *#*#4636#*#* and you will be able to see your usage settings there.
Out Of Sight Out Of Mind
This might sound like an easy solution and it is. Run out for a walk and leave the phone behind. Buy an old school alarm clock and charge your phone in the living room at night and the more frequently your phone is out of reach the easier it should be to stay away from, or highlight addictive behaviour. If you find that despite your best intentions you still end up going back to your phone there are a number of other ways to limit your usage.
Firstly in your phone settings under the usage section, you know where you found out your usage? Well in there you can set a timer for each app and when you meet the time then bang the app will be unavailable until the following day. And if all the above is a fail…which in my own personal experience it can be then it could be time to invest in a lockbox, available on Amazon for about €10-20. The phone goes in, time gets set and viola no access to the phone until the time passes. Of course, that’s a bit more of an extreme measure but try the out of sight of mind method first and go from there.
Use the 1:1:1 Method
If going the out of sight out of mind route is off the table, you could also trial run what is called the 1:1:1 method. Essentially go offline, total digital darkness for one hour before bed every day, one full afternoon a week and one full week per year. This is a great time to plan some you time. Having done some research online some people use the hour before bed to read a book, journal or meditate, all good stuff for clearing the noise of the day to day. For the afternoon without, this is a great time to catch up with mates, join a sports team or take up something new. Then when it comes to the week, book a holiday a retreat or something that gives you a good reason to go dark. Essentially if you’re going to digital detox then the best way to understand how much time you spend in front of screens is to use your new-found free time and see what you can learn or achieve in that time.
Turn Off Notifications
Be present, give those in your company 100% of your attention and turn off the notifications. I’m a hoore for it, sitting for lunch with the lads and end up checking your Facebook notifications or some other nonsense that’s irrelevant in the moment. Yes it’s hard to do when you hear the phone beeping or vibrating. The simple solution is to turn off your notifications or turn on do not disturb. That simple step will help you prioritise what’s important in the now and what can wait till later. About a year ago the Oxford University published a paper on digital health and they discovered:
“problematic smartphone use is facilitated by characteristics of the technology including the frequency of alerts and messages. Popular apps, like the Facebook app, are designed in ways that increase the amount of time people spend on them.”
When you think you’re keeping yourself up to date with the world you are really distracted from the people you are with. If you’re being interrupted by notifications two-to-three times in an hour you are never properly focused on the task at hand and will find yourself reaching for your phone time and time again. Simply turning off the notifications or going into do not disturb mode is a simple way to get your digital detox going.
Speaking of turning off the notifications, another useful tip we have discovered is to designate one hour per day where you don’t check your phone. Arrange to go for lunch with your work colleagues, meet with friends to watch a game or whatever you want to do for an hour that will help you go offline for just one hour. A report by Nielsen’s State of the Media: Social Media Report, a third of people between 18 and 24 don’t even go to the bathroom without their smartphone. Ah yes the old stop, drop and scroll.
According to the same article, if you have one hour a day to set yourself a challenge and gamify your detox, you will gradually wean yourself off the need to check your phone so often (we unlock our phones about 100 times a day).
Give Yourself Time
Going totally dark is totally unrealistic and in the modern work cutting out all forms of social media is going to be hard. Instead, use the above tips to limit your time and slowly decrease your daily dose. Set yourself some goals like “I’ll only check each of my social platforms once a day” or use your lock timer to set realistic times that you can manage. The idea is once you know how you’re using each platform it will be easier to take a step back when you need.
Digital addiction is a thing if you feel you’ve gone too far with your addiction fear not you can get help. There’s now an entire industry based around the digital detox and how to help the over-connected turn down their smartphone reliance. Did you ever think a day would come where a digital detox retreat was a thing? Well, now it is.
Turn your screen from colour to grey. I know this may seem like a bit of an odd tip but the less seductive your screen is, the less likely you are to jump in. Only keep tools and necessary items on the home screen, no social apps and when you do decide to go on Facebook, set a timer and see how long you really spend.
The greyscale trick is actually a tried and tested method to dissociate, if you’ve ever played Candy Crush it’s the bright colours that pull you in. Tristan Harris, a former Design Ethicist in Google agrees that going into your settings and switching the phone from colour to greyscale will help. Granted it won’t cure an addiction to your device, but apps such as Snapchat are suddenly far less appealing in black and white than they are in colour, and this can aid digital detoxing.
I work in Digital Marketing and Social Media Advertising as a day job so, in reality, a full digital detox without taking the time off work is going to be nigh on impossible. So myself I did a wee detox over the holiday season to reset before doing it all over again. We all need to be realistic, we do live in a digital world so totally going off the grid is just not realistic and let’s be real, setting a goal and failing sucks. But ask yourself the questions and curtail your behaviour accordingly. Like do you really need to check work emails at 9 pm of a Wednesday when you will just be dealing with them in the morning? Probably not. Be practical and be realistic about what apps add to your life and what ones are a time void? Don’t not use Audible to catch your latest audiobook just because it classes as digital, that’s good you’re learning. Long story short, set realistic targets and a timeline around how you will manage your digital detox.
Take your work email off your phone!
Our second last tip is kind of a follow on from the above, but who the hell really needs to have their work emails on their personal phone? Seriously they pay you for the time in work, not the time you spend stressing in the hours when you are not there. I know people who live in a constant state of stress of falling behind at work because they could barely think straight between incoming mail pings. If you have a work phone, turn if of out of hours and if you need to have emails on your personal phone, mute that shit until you get back to work. You’ll be a long time dead, work to live don’t live to work. At the very least set up some email preferences so you get all the emails once an hour or two rather than as they come in. Enjoy that few hours you have at home from one workday to another.
Try an app that could help
And last but not least an app could be the answer to your prayers…counterintuitive I’m aware but hear me out. There are a number of apps like
- Space App – understand their phone usage, break phone addiction and to find their phone-life balance
- Moment – track and manage how much time you spend on your phone. You can set time limits, enable reminders, and enable automatic shut-offs.
- Flipd – limit screen time by locking your phone for a set amount of time. In this case, your social media applications disappear until the timer ends.
- Goodnight Chrome – Once installed, all you need to do is specify when you want Chrome to close for the day. During the closing period, Chrome prevents you from accessing the web on its platform.
- Forest App – cut back your habit of excessive phone usage by helping you stay focused on real-world tasks. Set a timer on the app and ‘plant a seed.’ When this happens, your seed will grow into a tree. However, if you unlock your phone before the timer is up, your tree will die. To encourage this behaviour, Forest will send you digital coins every time you grow a full tree. Over time, you can use these rewards to grow a real tree.
There are loads more apps that will lock screens and the likes to help you limit your screen time but at the end of the day it’s up to you. We hope these tips work for you and to we would love to hear how you manage your digital detox. Happy New Year folks.