Are You Addicted To Your Digital Devices?
Do you find yourself checking your smartphone last thing at night, first thing in the morning? Have you found your eyes are a little more strained than they used to be, or you suffer rumbling headaches, or a sore neck? You might need a digital detox.
Unplug To Remain In Touch
Have your ever sat in a restaurant and watched a family spending the evening ‘together’, each one flicking their smartphone keypads with industrious fingers? At the end of the meal, the parents pay and they all wander away, having not uttered a single word to each other all evening. Boy, those selfies at the dinner table must look great on Facebook – but did they really enjoy their evening together?
Sometimes the perception of being in touch with the outside world is so strong that you don’t realise you are losing touch with it. Sometimes you need to unplug your digital self to reconnect with your real self and others, and enjoy real-life experiences that will re-energise your verve for life. A digital detox will help you do this. Here’s how to do this.
Step #1: Self-Diagnose Your Digital Condition
In a digital world, it can be hard to unplug from your devices. They are addictive, like sugar, gambling, cigarettes, and a whole bunch of other things you don’t want to become addicted to. On your commute home, you hunch over your laptop to do that little bit of extra work. Then you drift to checking emails and updates on projects. You might check your social media accounts.
This snowballs into habit. As soon as you get on your train, you fire up your laptop. If it’s not your laptop, it’s your smartphone or tablet.
When you arrive home, you fix a cup of coffee and connect to the virtual outside world. You think you’re in touch – but is this a case of perception versus reality?
Take a hard look at yourself and your digital habits. Signs that you are heading toward digital addiction include:
- Checking your emails constantly
- Leaving your phone on silent in the cinema ‘just in case you get an emergency call’
- Checking your social media accounts while watching TV
- Flicking through Facebook while eating
- Constantly wondering what you have missed online while you are offline
Still not convinced you need a digital detox? Try this exercise:
Ban yourself from your digital devices for a day. See how long you last before you start to get twitchy, wondering what you are missing. Are your digital devices controlling your life? Are you drawn to getting online and getting connected with the virtual world that is taking you away from the real world?
Step #2: Believe in the Benefits of a Digital Detox
OK, so you know you have identified that you have a problem. You know that problem is making you more remote, and that it’s probably messing with your life in ways you’d rather it didn’t. Now, look at the positive reasons to detox from your digital devices. Here are just three of the many benefits of being less digital:
You'll Focus On Your Life Instead Of Other People's Lives
Facebook is great for staying in touch, but it can also mean you focus on what others are doing. Those holiday snaps, birthday celebrations, news of new jobs, exam successes… they are all things that you may wish were happening to you. Guess what is stopping you? You’re immersing yourself in the online world of others instead of focusing on your world.
You'll Miss Out On Fewer Real-Life Experiences
Life is to be touched. It’s to be felt, tasted, heard and watched. Most of all, it is to be experienced. You cannot get real-life experience from a screen. When your focus is on your mobile device, you miss a whole world of experiences and opportunities happening all around you.
You Will Create Instead Of Consume
By its very nature, the digital world is one of consumption. Yes, it also promotes creation, but by and large you will consume when you are plugged in. That might be work emails, articles (like this) that others have created, music, film, etc. etc. Ask yourself, do you want to be a creator or a consumer?
When you interview for your next job in the digital world, will the interviewer be more interested in the articles you have read or the content you gave created?
Step #3: Set a New Digital Routine
Once you understand the nature of your digital addiction and the benefits of a digital detox, the next step is to adjust your digital habits. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Set a time to check your social media accounts
- Only check emails a maximum of three times each day (when the working day starts, mid-way through, and last thing before you leave your desk)
- Leave your mobile device out of the bedroom – ensure lights out means lights out (did you know that blue light plays havoc with your sleep, and that’s going to harm your productivity?)
- Call your friends instead of messaging them
- When sitting down to a meal, make ‘no mobiles’ a rule
Step #4: Let People Know Your New Digital Regime
Like breaking any habit, you can’t do it without support. Let people know that your digital habits are changing:
- Set an email autoresponder to tell email senders that you check emails at a certain time, and to call you if it is urgent
- Send a message to all your contacts to let them know that you will only be available on instant messenger at certain times of the day
- Once you have spent your allotted time on your social media accounts, post your status as offline
- Give your smartphone to someone to keep from you while you detox
Step #5: Change Your Devices
Still tempted to get stuck in your smartphone and other devices? Then change them! Switch your smartphone for a simple phone without online connection. Swap your smartwatch for an old-fashioned analogue. You can’t use what you don’t have.
Step #6: Choose Digital Detox Activities
Go to places where you can’t use your smartphone. Take a Yoga class. Go swimming. Take a Sunday afternoon drive. Join a book club. Now we’ve mentioned books, go back to paperbacks as your reading material before you fall asleep.
Step #7: Retrain Your Brain
In this digital detox process, you have freed up a lot of time. Use this to retrain your brain to wander and enjoy your digital freedom. Meditation is a great way to clear your mind. Take notice of your surroundings. Peoplewatch! You’re in the real world now.
Digital Detox Is a Life Skill in the Modern World
Of course, being connected in a digital world is essential – but it is not critical. Digital detox is a life skill in the modern world, and will help you connect to the real world. You will sleep better, become more creative, and your personal productivity will rise.
The connected world is a good thing, but, like my parents used to tell me, “You can have too much of a good thing.” So, detox digitally and reconnect to the real world to improve your work/life balance.
The best companies are hiring digital expertise. But they also know that the best digital talent are those who are connected to the real world, too. To learn about the amazing opportunities available in the digital space, contact the Digital Team at Prime Insight (link to contact page). In the digital world, it is the people who make the difference.