7 Super Feasible Ways to Disconnect More This Year
What is the first thing that we usually reach out for when we wake up in the morning?
Most of us would likely reach out for our phones. Through that small rectangular lit screen, we are instantly connected to the world, getting up to speed with new Facebook or Instagram posts, or whatever emails or text messages that came in while we were asleep.
Technology has become such an integral part of our daily lives that it is difficult to imagine life without it. However, technology has also had an impact on our social skills and emotional well-being, making us more stressed, depressed and anxious (1) than ever.
In a world that is becoming increasingly digital and connected, it is important for us to learn how to establish a healthy relationship with technology.
Here are 7 super feasible ways to help you disconnect more and find that healthy balance.
01 | Start and End Your Day Gadget-Free
Make a commitment to minimize your interaction with technology for the first hour of your day. Before the hustle and bustle of the new day sets in, spend the first hour of the day on yourself. You could use this hour to learn a new skill, read a book, meditate, journal, or plan out your tasks for the day. This allows you to set a clear direction for the day, instead of reacting to whatever holds your attention first.
At the end of each day, begin winding down for the night by turning off all electronic devices one hour before sleep. This helps to disengage from the day’s events, and also leads to better quality sleep (2).
02 | Schedule Specific Times for Checking Email
It is easy to get distracted by incoming email when you are focusing at work. To avoid letting your inbox control your life, turn off all push notifications on your desktop and smartphone. Instead, set specific times throughout the day for checking your email.
If you are anxious about missing important emails, you can schedule to check your email a few times a day, instead of once or twice. The purpose of this is that you are setting aside time to respond to information, rather than react to it.
03 | Use Only One Device for Checking Social Media
We are spending more time than ever on social media, with the average person spending more than two hours per day on social media platforms. This adds up to a total of five years and four months across an entire lifetime, which is more than the amount of time we will spend in a lifetime socializing!
One strategy to minimize the amount of time we spend on social media is to use only one device for checking social media. You can set your desktop as strictly for work, and limit surfing of social media sites to your phone. Or, you can remove certain social media apps from your smartphone, so that you can only access it from your desktop.
04 | Use These Tools to Manage Your Time Online
If you need help with managing distractions and being more productive, here are a few recommendations of great tools that you can use:
- RescueTime: RescueTime is a desktop and phone app that allows you to keep track of the time that you spent on various websites and activities.
- StayFocusd: StayFocusd is a free Chrome extension that allows you to block access to certain websites while working.
- Freedom: Freedom works similar to StayFocusd, but has more functions, such as the ability to schedule productivity sessions ahead of time. It also works with iOS products, such as the iPhone and iPad.
05 | Make Your Meals Screen-free
It is comforting to eat in front of the television, or while surfing the internet at our work desks. Even when we are eating with somebody, it is also convenient to turn to our phones when conversation at the dinner table runs dry.
Whether you are eating alone or with someone else, make it a point to turn your phone face down and eat without distraction. Unplugging during meal times is a great practice for being in the present moment. It allows you to fully appreciate and taste your food, and engage with the person you are eating with.
06 | Make a Technology-Free Activity List
Not sure what to do without your phone?
Sometimes, we turn to our phones simply because we do not know what else to do. Spending technology-free time may be a novel idea that needs time to get used to. Make a list of things that you would like to do, but have not found the time for. Make a list of books that you would like to read, and add to it whenever someone recommends a book to you.
When you find yourself with some free time on your hands, turn to that list instead of turning to your phone. You may be surprised by how much you can accomplish without the distraction of technology and social media!
07 | Leave Your Phone at Home
Sometimes, the best way to disconnect is simply to leave your phone at home.
Planning to go on a 2-hour hike with your partner? Going on a short coffee break with your colleague? Try going through with these experiences unplugged. This may not be as crazy an idea as you think. After all, life at its best form, is the one that is happening right in front of you.
(1) Brian A., P., Ariel, S., César G., E.-V., Erica L., B., Jaime E., S., Jason B., C., & James, A. E. (April, 2017). Use of multiple social media platforms and symptoms of depression and anxiety: A nationally-representative study among U.S. young adults. Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 1-9. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.11.013
(2) Figueiro M, Bierman A, Plitnick B, Rea M. Preliminary evidence that both blue and red light can induce alertness at night. BMC Neuroscience 2009;10(1):105.