5 Ways To Unplug
Without a digital detox
Blogging, social media content creation and any online business tends to result in a job that never turns off if YOU don’t turn it off. There is always another DM or comment to reply to, email pitch or collab follow up to reply to, story to post, feed post to share, blog post to write or optimize, Pinterest Pins to organize, the list goes on. If you take anything away from this blog post, let it be that you can find the balance between success in an online career path / business and digital wellness.
Sometimes the online world is just too much, but we can’t always just go ghost on our devices. Too much of everything all the time, right in front of our faces on a convenient pocket sized screen takes away from our internal peace and well-being. In today’s technology driven society, it can be extremely difficult to slow down and take a few moments for oneself. Screens off, sitting with yourself without any distraction or stimulation may be a completely foreign concept to some. The amount of external stimulus we have on a daily basis is far higher than what most humans have had in any generation. Unplugging and digital detox have become buzz words, but they aren’t always the answer, and for many working professionals, aren’t even an option.
The rate at which tech has developed is extremely fast, considering most people in their early to mid adult lives as of now could remember a time when they did not have access to so many screens at any given time. It was not that long ago that we had to print out directions to get to a destination we were unfamiliar with, if you were even a household that had a computer. Giving yourself permission to unplug and being present in the moment – device free – is becoming more and more rare these days but we can change that! Digital detox with a period of time away from all electronic devices is a nice option, but for many it is a luxury they can’t afford, so we have some alternatives here.
It’s no secret that most of us find the technology of our modern day lives to be beneficial in more ways than it is harmful. Most of us could not imagine getting through all of the obligations we have on any given day without the assistance of planning & strategy, most of which is fully intertwined with our technology. We shouldn’t have to live without the amazing tech that’s available, but we can remember that these technologies are in place to make our lives easier (not control them) and that is exactly what they should do. As such, it may be harming us more than we realize if we aren’t able to balance tech in a way that allows our brains and bodies to rest. This can lead to an array of problems, as outlined by Harvard Medical School here.
Being plugged in all of the time, from the moment we wake up checking our phones to the moment we go to sleep, checking one last time, can lead to issues with our overall health & well being. It goes beyond just the potential damages that the screens can do to our eyes, an inability to unplug can affect more of our lives than we know. Blue blocking glasses and other screen protecting technologies to reduce blue light exposure have been extremely popular, but aren’t the only ways to help offset the effects of such a plugged-in life. Increased screen time can lead to more anxiety for various reasons, in addition to an upset circadian rhythm and more, as outlined in the Harvard article above. Reducing screen time, doing a digital detox or limiting it may be difficult for some people based on their profession. However, it is possible to find ways around this need to utilize technology without allowing it to control your life.
This list outlines various ways you can take back control of your technology usage on your journey to becoming more balanced in your life. Each of these tips will increase in intensity/severity, with the last one being the most extreme. With any or all of these, you can gain back control of your life and time without the need to fully unplug or commit to a digital detox. Totally get it if you’re not ready for any or all of these, though they can work really well! Enjoy this cute pic & read on below to see our 5 tips!
5 ways to help take back control of your technology usage:
1. Set up app timers
Set up app timers. In case you didn’t know, most smartphones have a system in place within their software that allows you to put time limits on different apps on your phone. Even if you have a profession that requires you to be on social media, like we do, you likely are spending more time on there unnecessarily than you realize. In order to effectively take back control of your technology usage, you may need to change your habits, and this can start with setting timers on your apps. Ideally, you want to use this as a tool to get yourself to a point where you are not mindlessly spending hours on social media outside of any work you may need to do there.
2. Stay off your phone for the first hour of the day
This may be difficult the first time, but it definitely feels nice to not worry about what notifications you may have missed, what unnecessary things are coming at you, and enjoy the moments in your first waking hour. One way that this can become easier is to set a morning routine that has nothing to do with your phone. If it requires that you get up earlier, you may want to build up to this, perhaps first waiting 15 minutes and then 30 and then 45 before working your way up to a full hour of no screens upon waking.
****Bonus: Do the same thing for the final hour before you go to bed. Most of us spend a lot of time on our phones at night, perhaps scrolling through entertainment apps before we go to bed. Find another activity to dedicate an hour to, such as meditation, journaling, stretching, or reading a book.
3. Make daily use of airplane mode
Utilize the modes that your phone gives you to set it on “do not disturb” or another notification-free setting, like airplane mode. This is a great way to temporarily turn off all distracting notifications while you get into the zone for your work. App timers such as the Pomodoro method are great, but fully turning off notifications is a really good way to make sure you don’t get distracted from something you may need to be doing on your phone, your computer, or off-line. Our favorite picks for focus apps are the Pomodoro based “Focus to do” timer, the “Forest” app, and simply using the setting on your phone for do not disturb or airplane mode.
4. Ignore your notifications
Sounds intense, but it is a game changer if you set it up this way all the time! Turn off all popup/sound based notifications on your phone, aside from calls if needed. Yes, we mean all of them, even text messages if you can. This is something that we have done in the past, and although it may be difficult to get used to, it works really well. We dedicate time to reply to notifications, but generally don’t allow them to consume us, because they totally will! If something is a dire emergency, chances are you’ll get a phone call (or multiple) so in most cases, this can be a good way to take back control of your time and attention. This really allows you to eliminate the distractions that may come up from endless notifications either popping up on your screen or sounding off. It’s a bit extreme, and depending on your line of work it may be something that takes a while to get used to. For example, if you need to reply to all direct messages on social media, you may need to start going into your social media apps to intentionally reply rather than replying as they come in throughout the day. This makes it easier to get into deep work and focus only on the time you dedicate to the tasks at hand related to any given notification.
5. Make your phone reeaally boring
Turn on the grayscale/monochrome mode, your phone will now be as boring as a gray, black and white old school newspaper! Yep, this is the big one, although it is extreme, we do challenge you to try it at least once. It can be an incredible way to refocus your attention on yourself, those around you, and your life off your phone. Best used in conjunction with one of the above listed notification reducing tips, but it also has the effect of making your screen less enticing overall, since it’s basically now looking like a newspaper, so it could be helpful all on it’s own. Of course, you may need to turn this off once in a while so that you can do work on your phone that may require colors, such as photo editing, but if you can use this outside of any work that you need, it can be an amazing way to reduce the amount of time you mindlessly spend on a device, and possibly the effects of being constantly on your screen.
****This can generally be a hard setting to find, so here’s the lowdown.
– For iPhone it’s settings>accessibility>display & text size>color filters>turn on color filter>select grayscale.
– For Android it varies, the newer versions make it easy, as they have it in the Digital Well Being “Wind Down” mode options. With that, you can set a timer for your phone to automatically switch to grayscale at a certain time. Another option is the swipe down quick settings, and some allow it to be a menu shortcut. If either of those don’t work, here’s an article outlining more on how to do it on various Android versions.
Well, there you have it. Some hard core ways to get out of your phone’s control and get your phone under your control. Go ahead and get some blue blockers too if you’re so inclined, it’s not always possible to do all of the above, but you can still protect your eyes. Another option would be to make use of the settings in your phone to turn off the bright screen at a certain time in order to allow your body to adjust away from the blue light at night. Existing in this modern world and thriving financially and otherwise undoubtedly requires technology, and increasingly so each year. We can live and thrive with it, while being mindful of our consumption and wellness. Living your best life can be possible with tech!
Even if you don’t do any of these tips, we encourage you to pay attention to yourself on your phone – what are you really doing?
Look at the screen time statistics each week, how did you spend that time? Where can you reduce it, and how can you structure your days to be more supportive of a balanced lifestyle? We challenge you to implement at least one of the above tips to help support your well being and give yourself more control over your screentime.
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