How to Do a Digital Detox
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
In another time, you would have answered one of the following: stretch, brush your teeth, drink water, or jump in the shower. These days, however, the first thing most people will do is check their phone.
Our smartphones have, over the years, turned from an optional gadget to almost an essential phantom body part. For most people, it is the last thing they look at when they go to bed and the first thing they check when they wake up in the morning.
While our smartphones have made our lives so much easier, it’s also made us more dependent on technology for entertainment. Think—how much time have you spent mindlessly scrolling on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in the past week? How many times have you been more concerned with taking the perfect photo to post on Instagram instead of enjoying a day out? When out with a friend, do you keep your attention on the conversation, or compulsively keep checking your phone?
Of course, some people may not be as extreme as this. However, there is a need for us to remember to do things for the sheer pleasure of being in the present, and not constantly thinking about how good it will look on social media. Put away the gadgets for a weekend, and do a digital detox to remember what life is like when you’re really offline.
Step 1: Plan your digital detox weekend.
If you work in a job that requires you to be online all the time, this would mean a little bit of pre-planning on your part to make sure your bases are covered before you take a leave. The point is to be prepared so that you aren’t anxious and compulsively checking your iPad or laptop every fifteen minutes.
TIP: Try using or borrowing a very basic phone for the weekend—the kind that only makes texts and calls. That way, people can contact you if needed, but you’ll still stay true to your digital hiatus.
Step 2: Make a list of things you want to do.
Have you meant to clean out your closet? Do you want to spend your weekend cooking up a storm, or having a major movie marathon, or DIY-ing some accessories for your home, or working out? Think of the things you’ve been meaning to do but never got around to because of wasting time on Candy Crush, and resolve to do them. If you want, you can even take a short weekend trip that will keep you occupied, too.
Step 3: Get rid of temptations.
If you think your resolve will crumble in a matter of minutes, then ask a friend, or your significant other, or even your sibling to keep your gadgets away. If you find yourself with idle time, you’ll be more likely to reach for a book, go for a walk, or check off another item on your weekend activities list.
Step 4: Resolve to go through with it.
The hardest part is starting. If you’re enjoying a weekend in, stick to your planned activities so that you can do what you’ve resolved to do. If you think you’d be better off detoxing while travelling, being away from social media will help you truly appreciate the sights and live in the moment. There’s a lot more peace of mind when you drink in the view of a sunset framed by the beach, compared to when you’re frantically trying to frame and filter a photo for Instagram.
Ultimately, all of us will need to unplug and unwind at some point in time. There’s so much noise online that we forget that we should be experiencing what gives us added value. Will you try doing a digital detox soon?