Can you go more than 10 minutes without checking your phone?
According to a study from Asurion, the average person would say no. And for one out of 10 people, it’s once every four minutes.
From waking us up in the morning to navigating our way around town, we rely on our phones to get us through our days. Mobile phones allow us to connect with new people, help us answer our questions and give us the latest news updates, all with just a few clicks or a quick verbal ask to Siri.
But are we at the point of addiction? If we can’t go more than 10 minutes without checking our phones, it begs the question: Is this a serious problem?
It takes a little personal reflection to answer that question. We should be checking in with ourselves on how present we’re being in our lives. If you’re feeling constantly unfocused and scattered, it might be time for a digital detox.
We can all use breaks from technology and screen time, and there are plenty of ways to take breaks that don’t involve giving up your phone or going off the grid.
Here are seven ways you can experiment with a digital detox this month:
Start with your mornings
Put your phone in a separate room before you go to bed. If you need to wake up at a set time, purchase a physical alarm clock so you don’t need your phone nearby to wake up on time. If you prefer your phone for an alarm, set it across the room and only touch your phone to silence your alarm—without looking at notifications. Then, spend the next 20+ minutes technology-free. It feels nice to be truly present for yourself in the morning. You can spend that time reading, journaling or making breakfast without worrying about how you’ll respond to the emails sitting in your inbox. It can all wait until you’re ready for the day.
Turn off notifications
Do you get alerts every time you get an email? How about text message dings throughout the day? Notifications are distracting, and keep you from tackling the items that you actually want to check off your to-do list. Set aside a specific time to check your emails or instant messages, and turn off those notifications.
Have a phone-free weekend
Have you ever spent an entire weekend without your phone? It can feel impossible when everything is handled on your phone—including your navigation. But leaving your phone behind for awhile is possibly the most freeing thing you can do if you feel addicted to your technology.
If you can’t commit to an entire weekend, perhaps you leave your phone in the car during your next date night, or have a tech-free Sunday evening.
Create phone boundaries, especially when it comes to work
Having your phone on you 24/7 often means people feel like they have access to you far past your working hours. That doesn’t have to be the case. There’s an opportunity to set boundaries, even with your work.
If you receive a non-urgent message late at night, try replying to the message the next day, during work hours. It sends the message that you don’t work past your designated work hours. Most requests aren’t urgent. Almost everything can wait—for both work and personal requests—and once you set those guidelines, most people respect them.
If you’d like to take this to the next level, add your work hours into your email signature or create an auto-respond message, so people know your availability. You might be surprised by how quickly people adapt to your preferred schedule when you commit to it.
Delete the apps altogether
If you’re struggling with mindless scrolling on Facebook, delete the app for a day or two. Tapping an app and mindlessly scrolling can become such a habit that you barely remember doing it. When we’re standing in line or waiting for a website to load, we take out our phones without a second thought. Deleting your most frequented apps allows you to break this habit, and develop more conscious ones. You can always redownload the app. And maybe you’ll find that you don’t even miss it after all.
Go full Marie Kondo on your social media accounts
Marie Kondo, the Netflix queen of “Tidying Up,” is known for her tips on eliminating items from your home that don’t “spark joy.” In the show, she tackles items within the home, but this can easily be applied to technology too.
Go through your following list on your social media and determine if the people you’re following “spark joy.” If they don’t, unfollow or mute them. There’s no reason to clutter your feed with people that don’t make you feel inspired or add value to your day.
Check out your screen time
Did you know that you can check to see exactly how much time you’re spending on your phone and within specific social media apps? It’s a great way to get honest with yourself and the amount of time you’re designating to your mobile device, and social media accounts in particular. Go to your settings to check out the screen time. For Android users, you go to settings > battery > screen time. Make it a personal challenge to minimize that time by at least 10 minutes per day for a week.
Have you ever done a digital detox, or considered one? Tell us about it in the comments or on Instagram at @caringmagazine.