Digital Detox Do's & Don'ts
We live in an amazing time. Digital communication allows us to have unprecedented access to people, stories, and information we couldn’t have had just a few decades ago. But our brains aren’t exactly evolving at the same rate. We’re wired to crave information in order to survive, and for most of human history, that’s worked out just fine. But now we’ve got unlimited access to more information than we could ever need, and it’s creating a new set of challenges: bad posture, headaches, and sleepless nights are just a few symptoms of too much screen time. But what else do we miss out on when we’re constantly plugged in?
Tragically, we could be missing out on some of life’s best little moments- the ones that are happening just beyond our screens. The aging pet that wants a snuggle. The sticky toddler with a new dance move. The way the sunlight looks a little different today than it did yesterday. All these are really easy to ignore… they can’t always compete with a flashy headline or the latest internet sensation, but does that mean they’re less important? No way. These tiny moments are fleeting, but they’re yours. And someday, you’ll want to remember them fondly.
Enter the hottest trend of 2017: the Digital Detox.
Simply put, a digital detox is a way to reevaluate your screen time, and make sure the time you do spend online is productive and useful… and yes, that can mean carving out time to mindlessly scroll through Facebook- in moderation. The basic structure of a digital detox is this: work your way up to a set amount of screen-free time, spend a few days completely offline, then ease your way back in… with a new perspective.
There are a lot of plans out there, so we’ve rounded up what works and what doesn’t, and put together a quick guide of what to do, and not do, when you start your digital detox.
Do: Plan Ahead. Look at your schedule, and pick a time that makes sense to go offline. Three days unplugged is usually enough to reset your habits without feeling too out of touch. Schedule it on your calendar.
Don’t: Go cold turkey. It can be tempting to just turn everything off and get away, but it can actually be more stressful than if you’d planned ahead.
Do: Evaluate. Spend a few days paying close attention to what you’re doing, and how much time you’re spending, online. Is it mostly news? Social? Entertainment? Understand what kind of information you crave, and think about ways you can act on those interests in real life.
Don’t: Judge yourself. You might realize that you’ve been spending more time online than you thought, and that’s okay. Even a few days unplugged can undo the effects of too much screen time. You have to start somewhere.
Do: Set a long-term goal. Once you have your digital hiatus on your calendar, think long-term. What will it look like going forward? Decide how much screen time is healthy for you, and which digital endeavors can you live without. For some, it helps to schedule your screen time strategically. If you plan to only look at social media on your lunch break, you might be less likely to browse at the dinner table. Consider implementing ‘screen free Sundays’ or spending a long weekend completely offline four times per year; once a season.
Don’t: Go it alone. Share your screen-free plans with the people you regularly contact, and let them know you’ll be unavailable. Kick on your ‘out of office’ reply, and turn it all off. Everyone will be fine.
Do: Take notes. When you reach for the nearest device out of habit, grab a pen and paper instead. Write down your search query instead of Googling it. When it’s time to go back online, you’ll have your list ready… and you might find that there’s plenty of information you can live without.
Don’t: Miss out. Getting offline is a great opportunity to check in with your surroundings on a deeper level. You’ll start to pay more attention with all your senses, and get in tune with what’s going on in your world. Embrace it.
A digital detox is your chance to decide how you want to use technology. It’s a way to start fresh, and take control of your time. It’s a chance to remind yourself what you want your life to be like. When we prioritize the things that matter, they become the things we do. So unplug, recharge, and refresh. Spend a little more time outside. Meet a few more strangers. Life is an adventure- make it a good one.