Short of living in a cave in the wilderness it’s pretty impossible to escape our digital lives. But follow these steps and you can perhaps find yourself some time in the New Year to focus on one of those resolutions . . .
Know Your Enemy
Before you start cutting back analyse how you use your phone. Track your usage for a couple of days noting down what you use, the duration and why you’re doing it (e.g passing time on the commute, bored when watching TV). Then review it, you may be shocked to see how many hours a day you spend with your phone and how little you’ve gained from it.
Trim the Fat
Once you’ve seen how you use your phone, work out what you can cut out. Delete apps that drain time without giving you anything real back. Do you really need to have all the social media platforms on your phone - instead of using them all try concentrate on the ones that you get the most out of and get rid of the rest.
Whatever your guilty pleasure, be it Candy Crush or Instagram Stories, set yourself a time limit. Instead of falling down a digital rabbit hole when you use your phone think of it as another hobby that you need to assign time to. Be generous at first then slowly reduce the amount of time every few days.
If you find yourself reaching for your phone when you’re bored, give yourself distractions to fill your time instead. Take a book or a Kindle with you on the commute. Take up knitting or crocheting to make yourself feel busy whilst you’re watching the TV at night.
Keep yourself in the moment you’re in. If you’re out with friends, be out with friends. If you’re playing with the kids, play with the kids. If you’re watching the TV - watch it! If you let it, your phone will act as if it’s another person in the room demanding your attention. Social media will still be there when you log on minutes or hours or even days later.
Make an effort to speak, see or write to people. It’s so easy to feel connected to people because you’ve seen what they’re up to on Facebook, but do you really know what’s going on with them? Take the time to pick up the phone, write them a long letter/email or even pop round to see them- you might just make someone’s day.
Use Your New Time Wisely
What would you do if you were given an extra hour a day? Sleep more? Write that novel you’ve always wanted to? Go to the gym? Use the gift of time that your digital detox gives you constructively and it’ll help you to stop slipping back into your old phone habits.
Blue light is bad for sleep, so keep your phone out of your bedroom at night. If you have to keep it on for emergencies turn off the WiFi and place it over the other side of the room so you don’t reach for it if you wake up in the middle of the night. If you use your phone for an alarm or to know the time - buy a basic alarm clock - they cost less than a tenner and they’ll save you from being tempted to start browsing.
Turn off notifications
Once you’re in the swing of the digital detox, start turning off notifications from different apps. Do you really need to know that someone’s liked one of your Instagram photos or that you’ve received another email from someone trying to sell you something? Try to take back control. In your non-work time check your messages and emails when you want to - not when your phone wants you to.
Digital Detox Windows
There are going to be days and times that have more phone usage than others but try and balance it out. Set yourself a cut off time at night - e.g don’t use your digital devices after 9pm or have whole days like digital detox Sundays where you stay offline. Hopefully you’ll feel freer and be able to relax more.