Addicted to technology? Learn how to disconnect and do a digital detox from a girl with a full blown cell phone addiction. Learn from my challenges and see how to unplug from technology to create real and meaningful connections, not connections to social media.
Once upon a time Gordon B Hinckley said, “Try a little harder to be a little better.” With the New Year comes the resolution to change, to do more, to be better. And the huge possibility of failing and giving up. Over the past month, I tried a digital detox to help break my cell phone addiction.
What Happened When I Tried a Digital Detox
About a year ago I realized I have a cell phone addiction. At one point it got so bad, that I literally had to set a timer on my phone and not look at my phone until the timer beeped. I’ve since gotten a little better than that, but I’m still on my phone all the time.
There’s this fear in the back of my head that if I don’t check my phone at all times of the day that I’m going to miss out on some amazing opportunity or going to be the last one to hear the big news. And unfortunately it’s not just my cell phone; if I’m not on my cell phone, I’m on my computer. Or on my tablet. I’m always connected in some way.
And that connection to technology is getting in the way of the real connections. The connection with my husband, the connection with my son, the connection with my family, and the connection with myself.
When you’re always connected to everybody, you’re really connected to nobody.
How I Did My Digital Detox
Over the past few weeks, I’ve tried a daily digital detox, to unplug from technology at the beginning and end of the day. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t immediately reach for my phone; instead, I reach for an inspirational book or turn to meditation and prayer to start my day in an uplifting manner.
And at the end of the day, I’m shutting down my computer and putting away my phone for an hour before bed. Starting and ending the day connecting with myself and my family instead of to social media.
There were mornings that I got up when my alarm went off and immediately turned to whatever book I was reading. And there were mornings when my alarm went off, and I grabbed my phone and immediately started scrolling Facebook.
And at night, I got so distracted by something I was working on that I forgot to shut down my computer until I was too tired to keep my eyes open any longer.
But here’s the thing, life isn’t just about succeeding; it’s about trying and learning every time we try something new. And while I may not have unlocked the secret to how to unplug from technology perfectly, I did learn a lot.
What I Learned During My Digital Detox
My days were better when I started with an uplifting read instead of random crap on social media. I was more patient, more productive, and my brain just seemed to work better.
I treated my family better because I wasn’t stressed out the moment I woke up from reading an email with something else to add to my to-do list. My stress out moments happened later in the day during work hours, not family hours.
I missed reading. I’ve been so busy working that I’ve barely made progress on my winter reading list, and having an unplugged hour at night gave me the time to catch up on my reading.
This is Us is even better when you’re really paying attention. While I’m normally dividing my attention between the TV screen, my computer screen, and my phone – I spent a couple of evenings just snuggling on the couch and watching TV with my husband during this challenge instead of trying to do multiple things at once. I laughed, I cried, and I felt. Some shows are just meant to be watched without distractions.
I need a real alarm clock. I can’t use my phone as an alarm if I’m going to continue the detox. It’s just too second nature for me to immediately jump on and start working. I need to put my phone in another room at night or at least on the other side of the table so it’s not the first thing I do when I wake up.
My brain needs time to shut down before bed. This was one of the biggest eye-openers for me. I’m a great sleeper and always have been. But I slept noticeably better when I took the hour before bed to wind down instead of working until the moment before I went to sleep.
Detoxing is easiest on vacation. I think I’ve always known this but going on a trip to Galveston this weekend proved it. Detoxing was so much easier when I was out of my routine and out and about doing things.
I really like talking to my husband. It’s amazing how conversations come easy when all of the distractions go away. We planned a trip to Europe, made decisions about life insurance, and had fun just talking to each other without other things getting in the way.
I need to set business hours. I realized that one of the reasons I grab my phone in the morning and work until I pass out at night is because my work life and personal life are too intermingled.
Now my son is in school and I have help, I need to set work hours and try my best to only work during those hours. If I don’t have set work hours, all hours become work hours. And that is why I’m addicted to my cell phone.
Writing in a journal can be the best form of therapy. I’ve written in a journal more in the past few weeks than I have in the past few years. I wrote about a friend from high school who passed away and how it made me feel.
I wrote about a fight I had with a family member. I wrote about what I learned from my scripture reading that morning. And each time I wrote, the weight of what I was feeling was transferred from my shoulders to the paper and my burdens were lightened.
It made me way more productive. Between spending an hour at night getting ready for the day ahead and using the morning to get mentally ready, when I successfully did my detox morning and night, I was way more productive. It’s like starting in a productive manner jumpstarted my productivity for the rest of the day.
I feel better when I eat. I’ve had issues with remembering to eat the past few years, so during my wake up time, instead of turning to social media I poured myself a cup of juice and grabbed something to snack on while reading.
Even though there were days when I forgot altogether or failed miserably, as a whole I learned a lot – enough that I feel like doing a daily digital detox is something I’m going to keep doing and something everyone should try. Or if you’re not addicted to technology like I am, then try something else new and remember, every try is a step closer to being your best. So no matter how many times you fail, try try again.
Tips for Your Own Digital Detox
- Start and end the day device free for a certain amount of time. It can be shorter or longer than mine, do what works for you.
- Set an alarm for the end of the day when it’s “detox time.”
- Get a real alarm clock and put your phone somewhere other than next to your bed.
- Get support from your family – ask them to try and text you or message you before a certain time.
- Know what you’re going to do during your detox time whether it’s planning out your day, writing in a journal, reading scriptures, etc. It’s much easier to fill the time when you have something to do.
- Put your computer and phone in a different room at night during your detox hour so you don’t “accidentally” grab them.
- Give yourself a break when you forget.