Have you seen The Social Dilemma yet? If not, it’s an eye-opening look into the ways that social media, search engines, and addiction to screen time are changing our lives…and not always for the better.
This documentary made us think deeply about how much we’re using screens, and how we feel when one isn’t in front of our faces. While it can be convenient to be connected to the world around us, in truth, it’s raising anxiety and taking our attention away from living in the moment.
So for October, we decided to try a digital detox. Before you click away (we know you’re thinking about it!), read on to explore some ways you can live less in front of a screen and more in the moment.
Get Back in Touch with Hobbies
Back before Candy Crush, TikTok, and instant messaging, there were these things called “hobbies” we used to do. They included crafting, archery, gardening, art, and collecting. There were even things like boating, baking, and traveling.
We kid, we kid—sort of.
Did you know that having a hobby reduces negative physical stress and promotes eustress (aka positive stress)? Taking the time to enjoy this type of activity reduces cortisol, and can even help reduce your waistline!
So go ahead and buy that pack of glitter, and spread those good feelings to your heart’s content.
Schedule Screen-Free Time
Just like you would schedule time for a hobby, you can also schedule time away from screens. If you have roommates or family living with you, this scheduled time will be much easier if you’re all in on it.
Start small with this, for example, over the dinner hour. You don’t necessarily have to go so far as to lock up your phones and tablets, but designate a drawer where everyone will deposit their phones and won’t see or hear notifications for the hour.
If you’re the one proposing this screen-free time, come up with a list of icebreakers to get the ball rolling. Try some of these ideas:
- Would You Rather? types of questions are so much fun. And when is the last time you asked someone if they’d rather be abducted by aliens or robots?
- Talk about something you’re grateful for today
- Name one thing you’re excited for this week
- Have everyone confess their hidden talents
- Tell a story about the funniest thing that’s happened to them
Get the idea? Start talking and get the ball rolling on the conversation. You’ll forge deeper relationships with your loved ones, which is always a great thing!
Be Picky About What’s on Your Phone
Even though your phone can hold 10,000 apps on it doesn’t mean you have to fill every megabyte. Be ruthless and delete all apps that you haven’t used within the past three months. This is the digital equivalent of cleaning your house, and freeing up the clutter is going to feel so good.
Next, take a look at your settings and go to the notifications tab. Turn off all notifications for social media, email, and all the other little things that buzz, beep, and otherwise interrupt the important moments of your day. If there are contacts that you absolutely cannot let wait for a few hours, set them as a VIP contact. Everyone else can wait.
Remove all work accounts from your phone. While it might be tempting to check emails during your off hours, you’re robbing yourself of priceless time off. You absolutely need this time to rest and recharge after the hard work you’re doing, so don’t let work intrude on that time unless it’s a condition of your job.
Finally, turn on the setting on your phone that sends you a screen time report every week. Your goal should be to reduce that by 10% every week until you’ve reached a point where you don’t feel tied to your screen all the time.
Use Only One Screen at a Time
Raise your hand if you watch TV while checking your phone. Yep. Us, too!
Despite what some managers think, multi-tasking just isn’t a thing, and when you try to do it, you’re being incredibly inefficient with your time and are actually going to take longer to get things done. So much for boosting your productivity.
If you’re going to watch a show on TV, watch the show. If you’re going to check out TikTok on your tablet, only do that. But don’t try to do both at the same time. It’s too much for your brain to process, and we’ll bet you a dollar that you won’t remember anything you’ve looked at for the past 30 minutes if we asked.
Set Do Not Disturb Times
You might have already set the do not disturb feature on your phone to kick in at bedtime. This is a great start. But you don’t have to limit yourself to bedtime.
If you’re going to a movie, watching your kids’ game, or having dinner with your grandmother, turn on this feature. Be mindful and in the moment. You get one life, and you don’t want to miss out on these amazing moments. And think of how your kid or grandma will feel if they look up and see your head down looking at your phone.
Just like any lifestyle change, this isn’t going to come easily or quickly. That’s okay! Focus on one step at a time, starting with the most pressing. If, for example, you’re continually answering work emails at all hours, start setting digital boundaries there. Then work on the next bad habit and go from there.
The important thing is that you replace this time in front of a screen with meaningful things. Whether it’s hobbies, quality sleep time, doing-nothing time, or getting in touch with friends and family, we want you to learn how to embrace living in the moment.