The internet brings a strange paradox. At the same speed it connects us around the world, it often seems to isolate us from real-life relationships. We can Google answers, have an app direct us around town, and talk to multiple people at one time.
We are strangely captivated by our smartphones and other devices. It's increasingly hard to simply sit and wait and focus on one thing. To us, waiting has become wasting.
There are many things to unlearn in order to develop a new appreciation for real-life experiences. We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.
My hope is that you'll join me in intentionally cutting back on technology and focus on the simple things in life that are often overlooked.
20 Ideas for a Digital Detox
1. Take advantage of the opportunity to experience something new. If you're not used to going without technology, it can be very difficult to start because you don't know what to do with your time. So try this. Before you attempt a digital detox, make a list of activities you can do/want to try that don't require the internet or your phone. Keep that list handy for when your "bored".
3. If you have a Mac, download SelfControl. It lets you block distracting websites and anything else on the Internet you choose. Just set a period of time to block and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites – even if you restart your computer or delete the application.
4. Step away from your phone – and give clean water to children in need. The UNICEF Tap Project encourages you to stop texting, emailing, calling, and using social media on your phone to help provide clean, safe water for children around the world. The longer you go without touching your phone, the more clean water will be given to children in need.
5. Set aside half a day, or even a whole day, once or twice a month where you deliberately disconnect in order to focus on what is important to you.
6. Can't do a whole day without just yet? Try it for an hour or two each day then. Put your phone in flight mode and turn your internet connection off. You will be amazed at how productive you'll be!
7. In the morning, go online only after you have had devotions and only after you've taken time to decide what you need to do for the day. This way God and you determine your agenda, not incoming urgent emails.
8. When you're on the train, bus, or passenger seat, keep your phone in your pocket or bag.
9. Delete the app you're most addicted to for a week. After the week is up, re-evaluate if you really need it. Who knows? Maybe you'll have even forgotten you deleted it!
10. Take the weekend off from replying to emails! Chances are you don't actually need to respond until "normal" business hours on Monday morning. So if you run your own business (or even if your blog is your business) give yourself a work break and reply to emails later. It's the weekend after all!
11. Check your emails only during restricted periods during the day, such as once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and once in the afternoon.
12. Charge your phone at night so that it's full in the morning. Once your phone runs out of battery during the day, don't recharge it until 2 hours before bedtime. (This way you have an hour to check any messages or calls before putting it away for the evening.)
13. In the hour before you go to sleep, put away your computer and phone and read a book or talk with your spouse instead!
14. Cut down on the number of times a day you check Facebook and other social media. Most of the time, we check it because we're bored. Go outside, work on a project, read, or call one of those Facebook friends instead.
15. Another way to cut down on the social media checking is to leave your notifications be. Once you post something, leave it at that. No need to double and then triple check your "like" count on your Instagram photo or obsessing over how many times your post on Twitter was retweeted or favorited. Just check it later that day.
16. Or just simply turn off notifications and alerts!
17. Be present. Make a rule that you won't check your phone at restaurants or when in the presence of others. Learn to put the smartphone down and give people your full attention.
18. Even better. No phones at the dinner table.
19. Stop walking and checking your phone! There are so many things you miss by constantly looking down, not to mention it's the easiest way to drop and shatter your phone. Looking up every once in a while is a great way to experience the world – and keep your phone in one piece.
20. Leave your phone in your pocket during even the most awe-inspiring experiences. We all know that sunsets and sunrises are beautiful, so enjoy it instead of taking a picture. There will be many more of them to come.
I hope you'll be inspired to try some of these ideas! The one I'm most excited to try is the no walking and phone checking. Hopefully I'll be able to enjoy what's around me more this way!
How do you plan to digitally detox? Have you tried it before? Was it easy or hard for you?