10 Smart Tricks to Help You Stick to Your Digital Detox
After a year on screens, this year many of us challenged ourselves to take a break from the online world, to log off and look up at the world reopening around us. However, as January turned to February and then nearly half the year flew by, those resolutions may have lost momentum. Maybe you committed to limit your time on social media using our digital detox tips but haven’t gotten around to it yet? Or perhaps you committed to leave your phone outside your bedroom but haven’t been able to consistently manage that either because you still use it as an alarm?
Whatever the excuse, all is not lost! We know how difficult it can be to stick to those plans so we have come up with 10 smart and simple digital detox tips to help you stay committee despite the distractions.
#1 Go Cold Turkey
We have always said: the best way to start a digital detox journey, or to restart it, is to go cold turkey. You don’t have to switch off for a month and go stay in an ashram, you can carry on your life much the same as normal, but turn off your devices. This will enable you to find a new baseline, of how much time you actually have in the day and what you want to do with it. We would recommend a week but if a weekend is all you can manage that’s fine – turn off devices at 5pm on Friday and on again at 9am on Monday- you will be amazed at the change two and a bit days can make.
#2 Work Out What You Want
This is another really important tip for when you are first starting (or restarting) this digital detox journey: you need to work out what you want. For each of us that will be a different thing, perhaps you want to spend more time with your kids, improve your sleep quality or find the time to get reading again. No matter what it is, work it out, write it down, and put it up above your desk or in your bedroom. This way you’ll know what you are doing your digital detox for.
#3 Remember, Imitation is the best form of flattery
When you are getting into the swing of things it can be hard to go from cold turkey to completely reinventing your life. So, we recommend you cheat, just a little bit! Find someone with a similar work/ life to yours whose relationship with screens you admire. It could be your boss, desk mate, sister-in-law or spouse. Once you have picked your person ask them questions about their screen-life balance (particularly as it relates to your goals), and copy what they do – it really can be that simple!
Expert level: once you have got into the habits of your chosen role model and stuck with them for a while you can start to adapt them to your lifestyle.
#4 Set mini milestones
As you know, if you are one of the people getting back on the bandwagon after a few months of not following your resolutions, it can be hard to stick to your goals and achieve them. So, we recommend setting little milestones and rewarding yourself. For example, if your goal is to spend more time with your family one milestone could be a week of dinner eaten without screens and the reward could be a trip to a theme park together (or if that is a little extreme, maybe just the local park with ice cream!). This will enable you to break up the goal and manage it more effectively.
#5 Grab an accountability buddy
Another of our digital detox tips is to find an accountability buddy. They could be someone else on the journey to digital health, a housemate who can keep an eye on you or even be your role model from #3! Whoever they are, tell them your goals and milestones and let them keep you accountable through checking up on you every so often. Telling someone can even make you more successful in the long run!
#6 Get outside
As we have said many times before, getting outside really is one of the best things you can do for your mental, physical and digital health. Last week In the UK Mental Health Awareness week and we spoke a lot about the value of time in nature, in order to improve general wellbeing. Another great thing about nature is that screens were not designed for the outside (as you well know if you have tried to use your phone on a sunny day) so the very act of being outside can keep you accountable.
#7 Fill your time
Linked to the idea of going outside, our next digital detox tip is to keep yourself busy. Whether this is through analogue alternatives, such as the ones we have proposed in our series last year, or other hobbies is up to you- just make sure that the time you used to spend on screen is now filled with joy and movement instead of sedentary boredom otherwise you won’t make it!
#8 Set boundaries
Again, this is one of our most often cited digital detox tips, repeated only because of its universal truth: you cannot begin to rebuild your digitally balanced life without setting some boundaries. These may be around time, e.g. not going on your phone until you start work, or physical places, e.g. no phones in the bathroom. However you choose to set those boundaries, consistency is key. Once they are a part of your everyday life you will wonder at the difference they have made.
#9 Turn off notifications
Another smart tip is to turn off notifications. Notifications are designed to hook you in, the smartest minds in Silicon Valley have perfectly crafted them so that they interrupt your focus and draw you to the app, never to leave again. Internal emails are now, on average, opened within 6 seconds of them being sent– notifications are too addictive. So, turn them off! Similarly to going cold turkey, have them off for a while and then you can decide if the pros outweigh cons for some apps, such as calendar.
Though you are working towards a goal, spending more time offline should actually be fun, so try to enjoy it. Make sure that you substitute screen time for fun and get the most out of the experience, that is the best way to guarantee success.
For more tips on sticking to your digital detox take a look at our new book ‘My Brain Has Too Many Tabs Open‘, publishing in the US and Uk on 7th September 2021.