Don’t Touch That Phone: How To Plan A Technology Detox
Time Magazine reports that 68% of users sleep next to their phones…and that 37% check their devices every 30 minutes or less. (Are you checking it right now?) Another study estimates that we spend an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes on our mobile devices each day—and that doesn’t even include laptop or work computer time. (Have the robots taken over yet?)
Of course, digital technology remains an important part of daily life—we’re not suggesting going full mountain man off the grid. But if you’re looking to disconnect for a stretch, consider this your intervention game plan.
GO ON A DIGITAL DIET
First things first: A technology detox needn’t involve going cold turkey; a simple diet may be all that’s required. Head to a restaurant that doesn’t allow phones, screen out the noise through ad-blocker software, and, if you’re embarking on a weekend road trip, skip the digital playlists in favor of a throwback mixtape or CD.
Another key approach: Instead of thinking about what you could be missing out on, start packing your day with fulfilling and absorbing activities that don’t require digital engagement. Spend an hour cooking, sign up for a cool class, go for a long bike ride around your city, or plan a weekend getaway for a destination where you know there’s a bad signal. The truly ambitious can even sign on for a multi-day digital detox challenge to get the ball rolling.
TAP AN APP
All right, it may sound unlikely, but fact is your phone can actually be a pretty useful tool when it comes to digital detoxing and brain uncluttering. Try downloading a meditation app, for instance, which can help decrease anxiety and encourage you to practice living in the moment. Buddhify offers 80 different guided meditations for all different scenarios, while mindfulness-cultivating Headspace is billed as a gentle “gym membership for the mind.”
Beyond the om, if you’ve got a looming deadline—or just want to wean yourself off your Twitter feed—productivity tools like Anti-Social work to block you from time-wasting sites for up to eight hours at a time. And if it’s stats about your digital addiction that you’re after, look to Moment, which tracks how much time you spend on your device each day (and can kick you off when you’ve hit your limit).
HEAD OUT OF TOWN
Kill two birds with one off button: Plan your technology detox and go on a chilled-out vacay at the same time. An increasing number of hotels are helping guests to disconnect by offering special tech-free packages. Chicago’s boutique Hotel Monaco is one, offering a special blackout option that sees guests voluntarily hand over their devices upon check-in.
Then there’s Digital Detox. Based out of San Francisco, the org hosts device-free parties and retreats that prove socializing doesn’t have to be plugged in to be fun. The best part of all? Its awesome Camp Grounded, billed as a summer camp for adults. Located in Mendocino, CA, the camp invites grown-ups to participate in a talent show, go hiking, play capture the flag, take craft courses, and more—absolutely no phones allowed. And if it’s a truly sustained period of disconnection that you seek, you can always ante up with a silent retreat. Alone time plus lack of screens means you’re perfectly poised to feel the Zen.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
How long since you’ve seen one of your Facebook friends in real life? When’s the last time you sat down and talked with someone you normally text? Make time for quality time with a close friend you normally don’t get to see. Your conversation will flow even easier when it’s not typed out, and—if you stick to keeping your phones off and just focus on catching up—you’ll emerge feeling reinvigorated and (ironically) better connected.
TEST THE PLACEBO EFFECT
If all that fails, you can always go around holding a functionless piece of plastic. That’s what you’re in for with the aptly named NoPhone, an object that mimics your phone in weight and size but does, well, absolutely nothing (though you can opt for a “selfie” upgrade by ordering one with a mirror attached). Plus, at $12, it’s certainly a lot cheaper than your latest device.
Have you done a technology detox of your own? What worked—and how long did you make it?! Tell us in the comments below.