At Sync, we love, live and breathe technology. But we’re also firm believers that tech needs to benefit the user, and have a positive impact on your work and personal lives. However, the occasional digital detox is healthy.
With that in mind, it’s very important to be aware of your technology habits. A recent Ofcom study found that one in five people spend more than 40 hours a week online, and Brits check their smartphones every 12 minutes.
Here are seven ways you can give yourself a much-needed digital detox…
1. Allocate times for checking emails and other messages
It may sound simple, but carving out specific times for checking emails, reading messages and catching up on your social media notifications can work wonders for your productivity and your mental wellbeing, too.
Rather than constantly checking your phone or tablet, or being distracted by the lights and pings, turn off any unnecessary notifications in your Settings and instead, make a conscious decision to check messages at certain points during the day.
For work emails, you can always set up an auto-response, listing the times you’ll be checking them, and providing your phone number for any urgent requests or queries.
2. Have a tech cut-off point every night
Although there are several schools of thought regarding how screen time before bed can affect your sleep patterns and mental health, having a tech cut off at night time could help you to unwind in the evenings and enjoy other pastimes too, such as reading, playing board games with the family or just… talking to each other!
To help users get the balance right, Apple devices include a ScreenTime function, which monitors your phone usage and enables you to set allowances and limits for certain apps, and an improved Do Not Disturb setting as well. And one easy tip is to put your phone on Airplane mode after 8pm, which will disable all cellular data functions.
3. Go out without your phone once a day
If the thought of going 30 minutes without your phone every day fills you with dread, then it could be an indicator of how addicted you are. But taking half an hour phone free just once a day will help you to mentally unwind and be mindful in the moment when walking at lunchtime, going for a run in the countryside or popping to the shops. Give it a try!
4. Put your phone away during social occasions
Social occasions should be just that – social. So, every time you go out with friends, enjoy a date at a posh restaurant or rustle up a Sunday roast for the family, keep your phone out of sight and out of mind.
This way, you’ll avoid distractions and focus solely on your friends and family members instead.
And, if you need to stay switched on, you can always tell your nearest and dearest to phone you in an emergency…
5. Clean house on your devices
One easy way to remove many of the device-led distractions from your life is to spend an hour clearing unwanted distractions from your iPhone.
Uninstall any apps you don’t use, delete the app data, and switch off any unnecessary push notifications from ones that you do. Unsubscribe from any emails that you’re no longer interested in, delete podcasts, books and music you don’t need (it’s better to stream than download anyway!) and move your pictures over to the Cloud.
If you’re feeling very brave, you can even delete your social media apps and decide to log in via the desktop versions instead. Gulp!
6. Use apps to help you
It may sound contradictory, but some apps can actually help you to manage your screen time and take some time out from the digital world.
The popular Moment app monitors your screen time and social media usage and provides a coaching option to help you to regain a healthy balance.
Space is another app that can assist your move to a more zen you. It describes itself as a “personalised behaviour change programme designed to help you think about how you use your phone and how it affects your life.” Deep!
7. Take a digital detox holiday
If you really need to disconnect from it all, take a digital detox break. Some organised retreats offer yoga sessions and mindfulness consultations in device-free settings.
Or, simply go on holiday without your phone and check in with your loved ones via a landline, like the olden days! If you really need to take your phone, leave it in your hotel room and allocate an hour a day to check messages and reply to anything urgent.
What are your tips for getting the balance right?