Tis’ The Season For A Digital Detox
There’s growing awareness about the potential detriments of spending excessive amounts of time online, so how can we break the cycle of addiction?
Ironically for many of us today, the first and last thing we look at everyday isn’t the faces of our loved ones. More often than not, it’s our phones. The prevalence of smart phones has made all sorts of information readily accessible at the swipe of a finger. Checking work emails? Catching up on trending news? De-stressing with cute puppy videos? Keeping up with your friends’ lives? Everything is but a click away. And to be honest, how many of us even use our mobile phones to make calls anymore? Social media platforms have taken over to become the most commonly used method people choose to stay in touch with one another.
While seamless connectivity has many benefits, smart phones have also gotten a bad rep – increasingly, people are becoming less adept at face-to-face conversations and finding it harder to connect with one another in person.
With the world literally at our fingertips, many of us have also fallen into the habit of “over-multitasking”. As a result, we struggle to maintain focus – because even the apps on our phones are fighting for attention.
So what does this all mean? In the long term, this could lead to poorer personal relationships and compromised productivity when it comes to work.
The real question then, is this: in today’s hyper-connected world, how can we switch off and disconnect from our digital devices?
#1: Monitor Your Screen Time
It all comes down to the good ol’ art of mindfulness. The habit of always picking up our phones is so ingrained that we may not even notice ourselves doing so. Our digital dependence has become so prevalent that we often gravitate subconsciously towards our smart devices any time we have a moment. It’s almost as if we’ve lost the ability to entertain ourselves otherwise. Just last August, Telegraph released a report which estimated that the average Brit spends 24 hours a week on his smart phone – that’s a whopping full day out of seven.
To truly kick a habit, awareness is the first step. Here’s where iPhone OS’ Screen Time, a function which tabulates and reflects your daily and weekly device usage, comes in handy. Screen Time not only tells you the amount of time you spent on your device every day, it also shows you your most commonly used apps, and the amount of time you spent on each of them.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Knowing how much time you’re spending on your smart phone, provides clarity on the amount of time you could otherwise spend indulging in other activities like working out, immersing in an interesting read, hanging out with friends, or just getting more quality sleep.
#2: Deactivate Alerts
The insights provided by Screen Time are plentiful – you’ll also be clued into the quantity of notifications received daily, as well as the apps which send you the most notifications. But why is this important?
The number of notifications received correlates to the number of times we’re more likely to get distracted. It makes no difference whether we’re at work, having dinner with loved ones, or in the midst of having some me-time curled up with a good book. In short, getting distracted is never a good thing, and getting rid of apps that aren’t essential, effectively minimises distractions.
Alternatively, deactivate unnecessary alerts, or switch your smart phone to silent mode and keep it in your bag. Learn to be present instead and focus your attention on the people around you.
#3: Go Cold Turkey To Recalibrate
If you’ve attempted the above suggestions and still can’t seem to reduce your smart phone dependence, it might be time to go cold turkey. Check yourself into a spa and turn in your smart device while you unwind with a therapeutic massage, or re-centre yourself at The Yoga School’s yoga and meditation classes.
And if you really want to go all out, consider taking a real break by visiting a remote location that’ll bring you closer to nature. Without constant connectivity, your smart phone becomes nothing more than a camera and a music player, leaving you to observe and take in more. After a few days, you might start to feel completely at ease – and not even miss your devices!