Look up more. Your digital detox is not a quick diet, it’s a lifestyle change for the better.

It’s extremely common when you’re knuckling down to do good work (most likely deadline driven) or out with your awesome friends, that your mobile will ping or flash and you simply must look ‘just in case’. Many people handle their mobile over a hundred times every day and that includes walking down the high street, in the car, crossing the road, on the toilet (that would cause me to break up with someone), at dinner with fabulous company, in bed. Using your mobile and pushing your chair is more of a challenge but I know people who can, or will, stop every 100 metres due to a notification. Facebook and Twitter are the main offenders here, but the tips listed below are suitable for all digital distractions. This digital interconnectedness is amazing in building relationships with people we may never meet in person, that we grow to care about. And this digital usage is changing our brains, read “Mind Change” by Susan Greenfield. This organisation Time Well Spent has a great mission to reverse the digital attention crisis.

This is now so frequent I’m not sure it’s even thought of anti social and rather that is the way it is now. That’s not the way it is for me though, I like the humans with me to be *with* me (although I’ll admit I’m fallible, if you pick your phone up first I might crack and also look because I’m offended or gently stare until you come back to me), and I’m sharing these strategies to help you get a grip on your productivity and win friends back with your laser like attention to them.

 

  1. Stop the gatecrashing. Mute the audio and visual notifications.

Turn off all notifications that don’t require immediate action, everything from Twitter, Facebook, and every app with a “follow” function. You can probably leave calls and texts on. Turn off your email notifications too. You’ll be checking it soon enough anyway. If needed, establish a “call/text if it’s an emergency” policy. When you download a new app, immediately disable all notifications (or just never enable them). Job done. Also hide them from popping up on your locked screen to avoid temptation.

an iphone with it's screen converted to greyscale

Greyscale © LifeHacker

  1. Take away the shine. Use greyscale to make the experience suck.

Without colour the phone is much less attractive. How to do it is explained  here.

 

  1. Make it hard for the lazy you. Remove the Facebook/Twitter apps.

This is quite a radical step but worth the challenge. Using a browser will take more time and make it less likely you will return so frequently. Also takes away the all-invasive notifications. Win win.

 

  1. Set a physical block. Utilise browser help.

Use tools to limit your wandering online.

 

  1. Set a timer and stick to it.

I’m not saying no to Facebook, I’m saying manage the time rather than you being Facebook’s bitch. Use your phone timer to countdown 10 minutes and value your time by sticking with it. Or if you’re on a laptop use this easy kitchen timer link. Feel superior to Mark Zuckerberg.

 

  1. Leave the mobile elsewhere.

I can see this being difficult in case of emergencies (e.g. car breakdown, although unlikely) so put the phone in a separate room or bag overnight, don’t keep it in your lap during the day. Build up to it, leave it at home if you’re out with a crowd. Someone will call for you should the crap hit the fan.

a dummy mobile phone game

Dummy mobile © Klemens-Schillinger

  1. Get A Dummy Mobile

This recovery tool actually exists and keeps your hands busy. The struggle is real.

 

Like all addictions, giving up is hard, who doesn’t love the dopamine hit from a Facebook like? There is a very real Fear Of Missing Out with your online tribes. Think about the lost hours (non-returnable) looking at Trumps ridiculous tweets and the very entertaining comments. And those cat videos, adorable but will they help you read that book that’s been on the side for 6 months, complete your course work on time or remind you to call a friend and actually hear your voice out loud. This need to continuously browse is compounded if you live alone and spend more time at home than you choose to, or if you’re feeling a bit lonely or lost: let’s see what everyone else is doing to reinforce my feelings of worthlessness or boredom that I’m experiencing right now, that will help. Sarcasm alert.
a very tidy desk

Tidy desk © Carl Heyerdahl

 

It’s immediate gratification, but will monitoring every car crash move Trump makes help you achieve your daily goals, which lead to the success of the monthly and annual goals? What else can you spend that time on, you probably already know and maybe it gets very little of your valuable time as sitting on your butt scrolling is a very easy option. When our phones were not smart they were an aid. Now with the expectations of an immediate response it can be a tiny lead weight we carry around. Maybe we are already seeing a backlash in how much we accept their use in public, with many gig promoters now banning their use. It could go as far as smoking, which has made many people a social outcast with their choices. I am a huge technology fan and don’t want a ban in public places, I do want humans to sit with each other in person and hear deeply what is being shared from the heart. The type of listening that makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room. And to laugh about the cat videos they have seen online this week.

a beautiful sunny day looking up between two pink buildings

Fes Morocco © Tyler Hendy

Look up more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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