Where your attention goes, your energy flows.
It’s been 13 years since the invention of the iPhone, and by now, we’re well aware of the downsides of using too much technology.
We know digital devices can harm our physical and mental health. We’ve read the studies about social media and its association with anxiety, depression, and psychological distress.
And yet, most people continue to refresh their news feeds on LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook as if they didn’t know.
These people hijack their ability to do anything meaningful with their lives. While they feel they’re working, for example, they do nothing more than shallow work.
“Technology is a great servant, but a terrible master.”
— Stephen Covey
And while 99% of technology users distract themselves from the things that would change their lives for the better, you can decide here and now to take back control of your attention.
By doing a digital detox once in a while, you’ll set yourself up for a happier, healthier, and more meaningful life.
Here’s what it is, why you should do it, and how you can do a detox from the comfort of your home.
What is a ‘Digital Detox’?
A digital detox is a short-term intervention, and contrary to daily habits, is done once in a while. The duration is up to you (more on that in a few sentences).
During a digital detox, you quit your modus operandi. You stop relying on your brain’s default network. You step away from the screens and step into the clarity of your mind.
During a digital detox, you give your eyes and brain a break. You can use it as an opportunity to reduce stress. You can focus on social interaction in the physical world or use the space for inner work.
Why You Should Try A Digital Detox
By doing a digital detox, you’ll reap countless benefits along the way. And while they are powerful and simple in themselves, they have a positive impact on other areas of your life.
#1. You’ll Connect With Yourself
When you’re staring at your screen, you’re unable to feel your body.
While I love to write every morning for some hours, I’d be lying if I’d say my body loves it. I can’t connect with my body when I focus on a screen.
Any online stimulus, like a dopamine shot from a LinkedIn notification, can distract you from your body’s signals. We lose any mind and body connection.
By saying no to your screens, you’ll say yes to your body. You’ll not only notice how you feel but also have the time to do things that make you feel good.
Stop looking at your screen and start looking inside yourself. Connect with how you’re feeling and read your signs for change.
Paying attention to your feelings instead of your phone will upgrade the course of your life. Promise.
“Disconnecting from our technology to reconnect with ourselves is absolutely essential.”
— Arianna Huffington
#2. You’ll Live Your Days with a Clear Mind
Inner peace and joy come from living in the present moment. By refraining from technology, we create the environment to really enjoy and see what’s happening in front of us.
I checked my phone first thing in the morning for a decade. It wasn’t until I made the first digital detox that I experienced the power of not using technology.
Since then, I write every morning for three undistracted hours. And by undistracted, I mean no phone, no social media, no e-mail.
Our mind works at best when we give it space to unfold.
By using digital detox, you can realign your attention on what matters to you.
By leaving all your distractions shut, you’ll be able to center your focus on the things that bring meaning to your life.
“What we choose to focus on and what we choose to ignore, play in defining the quality of our life.”
— Cal Newport
#3. You’ll Protect Your Time
Too often, we give away our time without realizing it’s a highly restricted resource. Time is the most precious thing you have and it’s ticking away with every second.
Everything you consume, information, news, messages, notifications food, shape your days, and ultimately your life.
And while it’s easier than ever to let let Instagram, Netflix, or Youtube rob your time, these services won’t improve the quality of your life.
By doing a digital detox, you’ll be treating your time in a way that it deserves to be treated.
You control what you spend your days on. It’s you who determines whether you control technology or let technology control you.
“No person hands out their money to passersby, but to how many do each of us hand out our lives! We’re tightfisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”
How You Can Do a Digital Detox
So, you know about the meaning of digital detox and the benefits that come along with it. It’s time to apply this intervention to your life: How do you conduct a digital detox?
#1. Decide what you’re going to detox from
Before starting your detox, be clear about what you’re abstaining from. This will look different for everyone.
Here’s some inspiration of what I include in my digital detox:
This one is the game-changer. In my first detox, I tried to use it in flight mode to add some music to my time. Again, I was tricked into some other apps.
Every time I switch off my smartphone completely.
While I use my computer mainly for work, I also include it in my digital detox. I didn’t want to have the temptation to open a side tab on LinkedIn to check a message quickly.
This one is tricky. It’s not really a device that distracts me, but I feel I want to refrain from everything that has a screen. So no Kindle for me during my digital detox.
Once you have decided on what to detox from, you’re ready for step two.
#2. Set a specific time frame
This one is critical. Unless you have a clear goal in mind, you’ll find yourself on your computer and smartphone faster than you can imagine.
My first digital detox failed not only because of my smartphone’s flight mode but also because I wasn’t clear on this one.
I thought I’d go for on so long that it feels good.
Turns out this was a bad choice.
By setting a specific time frame, you have a clear goal in mind. For a starter, you can aim for 5 hours and gradually increase the length as it feels right for you (and as your work allows).
My digital detox range from 3 hours to 21 days. There’s no right or wrong duration. And any length is better than none.
#3. Plan what you’ll do instead
In the end, you’re not detoxing to punish you. You’re not using technology to reclaim your focus.
Here are some suggestions what you can do while fasting on your digital devices:
- write a journal entry
- take a bath
- envision your 5, 10, 20-year future
- create a vision board
- clean your apartment
- create some art
- read a physical book
- go out in nature
- cook and eat with full presence
- work out or stretch
- write letters to people you love
Whatever you decide to do, make it something you genuinely enjoy.
And think about an offline treat you can do when you want to get up and pick your phone. Thereby, you’ll set yourself up for a successful digital detox.
“If we don’t create and control our environment, our environment creates and controls us.”
— Marshall Goldsmith
In 2020 it’s a luxury to refrain from technology for a longer period. To do a digital detox:
- Decide which devices you will detox from
- Determine the duration of your detox
- Map out what you can do instead
Yet, we’re so used to using our devices every minute that the idea can feel daunting first.
Don’t ever let any post make you feel overwhelmed because you’re not practicing all the suggested steps.
This article is here to help you live a more intentional life — not to let you feel bad.
Use these ideas as a source of inspiration and brainstorm what might help you to live a happier, healthier, and joyful life.
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