7 Steps to Planning Your Next Digital Detox
Digital detox: A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world. - Oxford English Dictionary, 2013
Disconnect to connect. Unplug. Digital detox. These terms are all the rage at the moment, representing the act of stepping away from our adored electronics and reconnecting to the world around us. Even unlikely players like communications companies and app developers are getting on board. We highly recommend taking a break–in whatever form works for you–and have broken the process down into seven easy steps for you to put into action. Good luck!
Before you begin planning, get excited! A plethora of awesome publications across the web are getting down with the digital detox – from this infographic guide to this detailed account of one man's 25-day hiatus from the WWW. YouTube is also a good resource to scour for creative inspiration–check out this great clip for starters.
TIP: Rather than printing out articles you'd like to read later, use an e-reader such as Pocket or Readability to enjoy them when and where it's convenient for you.
Set Your Timer
The first step towards a successful digital detox is choosing a feasible length of time–and sticking to it. Try to find the balance between being realistic and challenging yourself–for example, taking a month off email is unlikely to work if you need to hold down a job, while turning your phone off from midnight until 7 a.m. on the weekend probably won't make much of a difference to your life.
TIP: If in doubt, try a weekend. It's just long enough to really disconnect and unwind, but shouldn't be too hard to execute.
It's All About Boundaries
Take some time to think about your e-life, and what it will mean to turn it off. Do you plan to cut yourself off from all emails or just work emails? And what about television and social media?
TIP: For your first digital detox, we recommend cutting out anything that involves a glowing screen or the Internet. In other words: computer, iPad and smartphone - out; Kindle - in.
Schedule Some Quality Time
One of the best things about taking a digital detox is that it gets your face away from the screen, and in front of the friendly faces of your friends and family. Schedule at least one meal with loved ones and let everyone know that it'll be an unplugged meal. You can even make a game out of it–stack everyone's cell phones face down on the table. First person to check their phone takes everyone out for ice cream.
TIP: Think old school–pull out your board games from the back of the cupboard and get ready for some fun.
Spending some time outdoors – whether it's a picnic, a jog or a day at the beach–is a non-negotiable part of your digital detox. Not only does sunshine stimulate the essential nutrient Vitamin D, getting down with nature will make you calmer, happier and more focused. Better still, plan a mini-break and get out of town.
TIP: If you need to research your outdoor adventure, make sure you do it before your detox starts to avoid contaminating your chill out time staring at a screen.
Read Between the Lines
In his much-quoted 2008 article in The Atlantic, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, which he later expanded into a full-length book, American writer Nicholas Carr expounds a theory that the Internet has “chipped away” at our “capacity for concentration and contemplation.” Use your digital detox to read something long and involved–all in one go. It could be a book, a magazine article you haven't had time to read, or even a short story.
TIP: For best results, get stuck in a good novel. Reading fiction has been found to make you more empathetic.
Learn from Experience
When your allotted digital detox time is up, take a moment to ponder–rather than running straight to your iPhone to catch up on everything you missed on Facebook. Ask yourself these three simple questions before diving back into the digital world:
1. What have you learned from the experience?
2. Having lived without it this long, is there any device/platform you think you can do without permanently?
3. Would you consider setting a regular time (say, Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening every week) to repeat the experience?
TIP: Write down some notes as you go through the questions so you can refer back for next time.
This article originally appeared on Goodnet and is republished here with permission.