Career Advice/ Lifestyle/ Technology/ Wellness

5 Tips for Your First Digital Detox

As you may remember from last month, I’d shared my mobile device dependence experience in Unplugging: My First Digital Detox post.

Over the course of three days, I’d gone tech-free (including my phone) and journaled the concerns and emotions ditching my devices brought up.

​It wasn’t easy, but it was much needed.

I was so pleased with the health benefits going three days without devices provided that I’ve made this whole “digital detox thing” a regular event.

It’s been a wonderful way to reconnect with the non-tech world, along with myself, recharge and refocus in a way that leaves me towards optimal experiences with my community, family, and work.

So if you’re feeling the drain 24/7 connectivity can bring, and would like to take a digital detox out for a spin, here are five tips for pulling it off successfully (aka: not checking Facebook): ​

​Customize It

Your digital detox can be as long (or as short) as you’d like.

There’s no magic length for feeling refreshed – everyone’s detox time frame will be personal. For me, three business days is plenty of time to help me feel rejuvenated and regain my focus. For others, even just a few hours device free may make a world for difference in their overall balance and perspective.

When deciding the ideal length for your detox, go with whatever makes you feel better (it’s okay if this is a little trial and error).

​Notify Your Network

If you’re like me, a large part of the pre-detox anxiety stems for the fear of missing something important – maybe some pertinent market news or even your BFF’s pregnancy announcement. In today’s highly connected world, 24/7 connectivity has become the expectation, not the exception, and one’s social silence can be misinterpreted as lack of interest or giving the proverbial cold shoulder.

To prevent potential fallouts from your decision to detox digitally, consider communicating your unavailability, like you do with an e-mail vacation responder, by posting a notice on social media, or sending an eblast. Who knows – maybe your commitment to work-life balance will encourage others to unplug occasionally.

​No More All-in-One

We all know it’s not healthy to keep devices on the bed stand (or under the pillow), but how many of us really maintain a device-free bedroom, all the time?

As you prepare for your digital detox, you should consider the many applications your phone has within your daily life, including functions as an alarm clock and a calendar.

For your digital detox to be successful, you’ll need to consider alternative tools to wake you up and keep you on track. I recommend purchasing an alarm clock, wrist watch, and maintaining a paper calendar (you can just print off your digital one).

​Disable Push Notifications

I liked this digital detox strategy so much, that I maintained disabled push notifications even after my detox was complete. It’s so nice to not have seemingly every activity interrupted by an e-mail, a tweet, or Facebook’s latest annoying messages! Before starting your detox, disable push notifications from your social apps and e-mail, or better yet, turn your phone OFF.

Instead to reacting to everything coming into my device, working without push notifications allows me to be much more intentional about responding to all incoming. I find it easiest to select a time each day (or, if you’re felling bold, every other day) that you check and respond to all platform notifications.

​Instead of Scrolling…

According to a recent study, the average user will spend over five years of their life on social media.

That’s a lot of time spent scrolling!!!

Social media use came in only second to watching television (seven years and eight months), and it came in well ahead of eating/drinking, grooming, and face-to-face socializing.

Given that we spend so much time online (connecting with others, while disconnecting from ourselves), one may find it helpful to identify some supplementary activities in preparation for a digital detox. One week before my first detox, I raided our local library’s discarded book sale, upped my workout routine, and replaced the inner tube on my bike. This way, when I started to get the urge to scroll, I could pick up a book, follow my exercise regimen, or go for a leisurely bike ride.

Have you tried a digital detox? Share your experience in the comments below!

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