Digital detox / “breaking up” with your phone

The statistics around screen usage in our society at the moment are eye-watering. And most of us completely underestimate just how many minutes a day we actually spend (and often waste) on our smartphones. Download the Moments app if you want to see just how much of your day is devoted to yours!

In the 2018 Wired Guide to Internet Addiction almost 50 percent of people said they couldn’t live without their phones, which on average we were checking every 12 minutes each day, touching 2,600 times and spending around 5 hours a day on! (And I dread to think how much worse it’s been since lockdown!) It’s no wonder that many of us struggle to find time to do other things.

Whilst advances in technology have changed our lives for the positive in many ways, there’s also a very negative side that includes things like:

  • feeling like we need to be available all of the time
  • feeling compelled to check and respond to notifications that aren’t actually that important in our day, which leaves us with little time for other things
  • the impact that our phones have on our relationships
  • an increased need for external validation
  • thinking that our lives are somehow lacking because they don’t live up to what we’re seeing at the time
  • feeling like pictures of us need filtering and editing before we can share them
  • our sleep being impacted by us not taking time to wind down before bed and because of the blue light that our phones emit
  • And the list goes on

Plus there’s also the longer term unknowns around the impact of blue light and electromagnetic fields on the body, as well as the issue of addiction itself.

However, you do it, I think we all need to spend more time away from our phones and this will have the added benefit of freeing you up to have some more free time for whatever you’re struggling to fit in.

So here are a few ideas (in no particular order) for you to think about…

  • Removing apps that just absorb your precious time for no useful output
  • Turning push notifications off so you don’t feel compelled to go into an app outside of the time you were intending to use it
  • Scheduling in your phone time so that you have to focus on what you want to achieve and only for a set period of time. (You can use apps like Freedom to physically stop you from using you phone at certain times)
  • Putting most of your non-important apps into one folder so they’re out of sight
  • No tech at meal times. Pop your phone in a box or drawer if it’s too tempting having it out
  • No phones during the hour or two before bed
  • Getting an alarm clock so that you don’t make checking your phone the first thing you do every day
  • Or going a step further and not allowing your phones in your bedroom at all. You can make or buy your own Bagby to prompt you with this
  • Unsubscribing from things that are not really that important to you
  • 5:2 digital diet, so no smartphone use on weekends (or very limited use)
  • “Screen free Sunday”

There are loads of fabulous books and blogs on this subject if you’re inspired to take it further. I highly recommend “Breaking up with your phone” by Catherine Price and she has several free to join challenges on her website which you can use to get started.

Get in touch and let me know what’s worked for you!

Comments 3

  1. Great post! I think one of the biggest problems with smartphones is not that users are addicted per se, but rather the fact that so few people are willing to recognize that and do something about it. We are so complacent in our unhealthy dependencies, and it’s so important to normalize this conversation about how to improve! (we happened to publish a similar article just a few days ago if you want to check it out!)

    1. I think that’s definitely the case for some people, but I equally think that lots of people just don’t understand how to create positive habits and change in many areas of life (nutrition is a good example – most people understand what better eating looks like, but really struggle to do it). Your article sounds interesting, I’ll check it out.

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