It’s just like the week-long detox diet you tried last year, except this time, instead of swapping sugar for greens, let’s swap screens for reality. It’s undeniable that as a collective, we’ve all gone down the digital rabbit hole. Everything from grocery lists to work projects to answering the doorbell is all done on a device these days.
Our most powerful digital tools can often become worrisome distractions, imposing on productivity and sometimes even affecting our well-being. When you start feeling like the digital world is controlling your real one, it’s probably time for a digital detox challenge.
Here, we’ve compiled our secrets to success, helping you build tools for switching off when needed and what to do instead, making sure our devices remain our friends, not out-of-control tyrants.
For the next five days, try these simple steps one at a time and reap the benefits of a digital disconnect.
Pro Tip: Keep a digital detox journal along the way to track your behavior and how you’re feeling while working through these steps.
The best place to start your digital detox challenge is by getting off your devices as much as possible.
First thing’s first – assess how much time you’re spending on digital activities. You’d be surprised how many hours are spent on your phone or laptop, often not in a very productive manner.
With the latest iPhone update and on certain apps for both iOS and Android, you’ll be able to track your screen time. Usually this is a necessary wake up call, essential to kicking your digital detox challenge into gear.
From there, you can set clear daily limits for how much time you’re allowed on your most distracting apps and websites. Share your goals with a friend or your partner to keep you accountable and take notes in your digital detox journal to track your progress.
Daily Limit Ideas:
Out of sight, out of mind is a real thing. One of the easiest ways to remove digital distractions and spend more time away from your devices is by eliminating the problem altogether.
No, that doesn’t mean we’re throwing away our iPads and swearing off of anything technological. After all, our devices are reliable and quite frankly, incredible tools. Instead, delete the apps from your phone or computer that are causing the most trouble.
Using your digital detox journal, whenever you realize you’ve wasted 15 minutes on an app, add it to the list of those you should delete.
Another trap is allowing notifications to pop up at any time. While sometimes convenient, they’re usually not worth it. Notifications trigger us to immediately check our email or Instagram feed. So, to complete your digital detox challenge, one simple trick is to turn them off.
What to Remove:
We’re more likely to reach for our phones if they’re always within arm’s reach. Whether on the table when you’re out to dinner with your spouse, on your desk while you’re working, or on your nightstand while you sleep, keeping devices within your range of vision is a dangerous plan.
Things to Try During Your Digital Detox Challenge:
In your digital detox journal, keep a log of each morning or night you went without your smartphone. You may even want to write out how you were feeling as you break this habit. You may start off feeling anxious, but after a few days you should notice a sense of calm.
Getting fresh air is so underrated. Nowadays, it’s easy to lock yourself indoors, getting lost in your screens. It’s only then that we realize we haven’t seen the sun in days. It’s been proven that going outside improves short-term memory, mental energy, stress levels, concentration, and can even help you think more clearly and creatively.
Take your digital detox challenge outdoors. And if you’re worried that pressing work won’t get done by taking your break outside, it’s actually more likely that you’ll be even better at your job. Chances are, you’re probably just on Facebook anyway, so you should have time to spare.
When you’ve realized that your digital world is keeping you indoors, try this:
While it’s certainly convenient to use digital notes that are uploaded to the cloud, available on any device, anytime, anywhere – it also adds to your addiction. Kick it old school and use pen and paper for notes, grocery lists, journaling, and your daily to-dos. Your digital detox journal, especially, should be in physical form.
Best-selling author, Ryan Holiday uses 4x6 notecards for his to-do lists. By crossing off each activity as it’s completed and finally ripping it up and throwing the card away at the end of the day, he not only feels fantastic, but it also separates him from his devices, meaning less opportunity for distraction.
Here are some other ideas:
The point of a digital detox challenge is to minimize distractions, hopefully making us more productive overall. According to productivity guru, Chris Bailey in his bookHyperfocus, on average we only last about 40 seconds while working before getting distracted.
So, when you become distracted by your digital devices, try this instead:
Remember to check in with yourself during each of the five days of your digital detox challenge using a digital detox journal. You may be surprised by the positive changes that occurred as you look back on the week. Who knows – you may have just created a few lifelong habits.
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