Chances are that for most of your adult life you’ve had a mobile phone and Internet access. When used properly,technology makes the day-to-day easier, makes us more efficient and frees up time that we can use creatively, and yet our relationship with digital gizmos appears to have become increasingly dysfunctional.
I’ll be the first to admit that I once had a big problem with “unplugging.”My phone was with me at all times, and I was messaging or calling friends or taking photos or on social apps pretty much constantly. I’d forgotten how to enjoy the moment; I’d become a slave to my iPhone. Then something wonderful happened: my phone was stolen. It was only then that I realized how destructive my relationship with that wonderfully useful device had become. So tech and I broke up, made up, and now we’re friends again, but on a more equal footing.
Fixing an unhealthy relationship with technology is easy, and there are baby steps you can take to wean yourself off slowly. Firstly, set ground rules for how much time you use technology. My guess is that if you were allowed only 20 minutes of access to the Internet each day, you’d make them count, right?Of course, in reality our work and personal lives mean most of us need more than 20 minutes, but you get the picture. Here are eight ways to help you “unplug” each day.
1. Cap your daily usage
Split your Internet usage into personal and work-related categories. I give myself 30 minutes a dayfor professional needs, and the same for personal, the latter to be spent outside working hours. Make your targets reachable. Operating in this way encourages focus on priorities.
2. Simplify, simplify, simplify
Gmail, Outlook, text messaging, Facebook, WhatsApp, Slack, WeChat, LinkedIn, Twitter … Informationarriving from so many angles can leave us overwhelmed and frazzled. Stick to one medium when responding to people. Why send an email reply and later repeat yourself via Facebook? That creates two trails about the same topic. That’s just clutter!
3. Focus on one thing at a time
Multi-tasking is responsible for a myriad of problems, such as an increased chance of making mistakes. Mindfulness is the state of being conscious of the present moment, and doing things one at a time is helpful. When you and your partner go out to a restaurant, enjoy each other’s company.Is there anything worse than seeing two people out to dinner, but both on their phones?
4. Don’t check emails first thing in the morning or last thing at night
Enjoysome “me time” at the beginning of each day. Similarly, create space at the end of your day to process everything that happened and fully disconnect before you go to sleep.
5. Go off-line for a couple of hours before bed
Reading a real book (instead of on a Kindle or tablet) is a great way to wind down. Or you could review your day and get to know yourself better through journaling. It’s reported to have a number of health benefits. (Check out our top six wellness books here!)
6. Make your bedroom a technology-free zone
Leave your phone and computer outside the room where you sleep, or at the very least three feet away from you. If you need a wake-up light,there are some great options out there. I bought a Lumie Body Clock years ago and love the feeling of being woken up by “the sun” rising in my room each morning.
7. Install a display optimizer app
Apps such as f.lux significantly reduce the disruption of sleeping patterns. Your device’s screen coloradjustswith the time of day – brighter and bluer during maximum daylight, dimmer in the evening and at night. Excessive exposure to light at night can affect sleep.
8. Shut it down occasionally
As technology advances, the reduction in screen sizes means displayed content is also shrinking, which is not kind to the eyes. Give them a break now and then by shutting your device down.