Recently I decided to do a quick digital detox over the weekend. I realized I had NEVER done this before even though I talk about the importance of it all the time. I have been a little too attached to my phone over the past month or so, constantly checking and rechecking email, facebook, twitter etc etc etc for no reason whatsoever! I realized I have no boundaries set around my digital usage so it was beginning to have more control over my time. So what to do? Try a few days off.
According to this Huffington Post article, “New research conducted by British psychologists shows that young adults use their smartphones roughly twice as much as they estimate that they do. In fact, the small preliminary study found that these young adults used their phones an average of five hours a day — that’s roughly one-third of their total waking hours.” That’s an enormous amount of our time every day just looking at phones!! It goes on to say, “Research has shown technology use can impair attention, productivity and memory, dampen creative thinking, increase stress levels, reduce sleep quality and lead to “cognitive errors” like forgetting meetings and walking into people.” The more we focus our attention on that little screen the less we are really using our brains in a functional way.
So my foray into the digital detox world went something like this:
First I didn’t forbid myself from picking up my phone so I wouldn’t have the allure of the untouchable. I allowed myself to pick it up, but not to engage. This means not opening facebook, email, and other social media apps. On Saturday the pull to check it was very strong and even felt a little stressful. This was surprising and a little scary as I realized how much I was attached to checking my phone! Not picking it up was stressing me out! As the day progressed the feeling improved, but I still felt this underlying nagging feeling that I should just check (especially when some FB messages popped up! Oh how I wanted to click on that chat head!) I made it through the first day unscathed, but still wanting to drill down into the notifications. Sunday was a bit better. I left my phone by the bed in the morning and just enjoyed snuggling up with my pup, a cup of coffee, and CBS sunday morning. I felt more relaxed and not pulled in so many directions. I didn’t feel such a strong need to check my phone and respond to the awaiting messages (although the feeling was still there). We took the dog to the park to run around, ran some errands, and returned and not once did I pull the phone out just to look at it! Small success! As the day progressed I actually completely forgot about the phone and left it in my purse for the afternoon. I had less and less desire to see what it wanted me to see. By the evening I was actually starting to feel a bit stressed about having to get back on my phone! Within 2 days my attention and need for the phone was already starting to shift.
As I go into Monday (btw my phone is beeping at me and I really want to stop and check it while I’m typing this!) I am not quite ready to jump back in. I slowly acclimate back to the world of smart phone use and unfortunately before long old habits have cropped up and I’m on my phone most of the day. Moral of the story? Boundaries are important and habits take time to change. What I will be working on for the next month is setting boundaries that make sense, allow me to engage in a healthy way, and provide detox time on a regular basis. In the evenings books instead of phones, in the mornings no checking phone until after 9am (I will move this later as I progress with my habit building), and adding an app to monitor my usage so I become aware of how often I am checking my phone. Becoming aware is really critical for long lasting changes.
How are you doing with your phone usage? Have you made boundaries or taken a break recently? If so how did it go? I’d love to hear from you!