Technology. It’s the biggest irony of our times. In a world where the average person checks their phone 80 times a day, (150 for millennials), many of us have become slaves to the very devices that were meant to give us greater freedom. Instead of having more time to experience life and connect with the people we love, we’re constantly “on call” via an onslaught of messages and distractions that disconnect us from what really matters.
If “everything in moderation” is the hallmark of healthy living, then shouldn’t it also apply to our digital lives? With the constant distraction of all things technology, it’s never been more important to take digital time out and live in the moment. Here are a few easy ways to switch off, take a mini-break from your screen, and tune into the here and now.
Detox Your Phone: Candy Crush. Facebook. Tinder. Gilt. The average smartphone user has between 60 and 90 apps on their phone, nine of which they use daily – but how many of them do you really need? Try deleting a few so there’s less temptation to pick up your phone for the sake of it. Not sure which apps to trash? Consider those which are merely time-killers – repetitive games and shopping apps simply gobble up time and money. Have you downloaded every dating app, but only use one or two? Dump the ones that didn’t cut it. And last but not least: social media – do you really need to be on every platform? If a lack of likes or FOMO only bring you down, maybe it’s time to give a couple of those apps up.
“Check” Your Phone at Mealtime: When was the last time you enjoyed a phone-free meal out? If you can’t remember, perhaps it’s time to banish your cell from the dinner table. It’s a restaurant trend that’s catching on, even in the world’s most connected city. Some New York City eateries have introduced straight-up phone bans, while others are offering discounts and freebies in exchange for ditching phones during mealtimes. At some venues, tableside Champagne buckets and vintage cigar boxes invite diners to stash their phones to connect with fellow diners. You may miss an email or two, and those #foodporn likes may suffer, but your dining companions will almost certainly appreciate it, and maybe even follow your example. Dining in? Create a phone free dining zone by hiding them out of eye and earshot, or download an app that limits family screen time.
Embrace a Digital Detox App: Addicted to your phone? There’s an app for that too. Even the tech world is conjuring ways to unplug more with a bevy of apps designed to encourage more mindful phone use. Moment and Moment Family track the time you and your loves ones spend on phones, and allow you to create cell free times that force the whole family off their phones together. A perfect solution for those device free dinners. Mute is like a Fitbit for digital detox, which tracks then limits your habits, and actually makes you feel good about living life less on your phone. Meet your phone free goals on Forest, and the app will reward you by growing a tree. Meet your daily goals over time, and build an entire digital forest. Fail, and the trees die. Off the Grid completely blocks you from your phone for a timeframe determined by you, but for every time you can’t go the distance, the app will charge your credit card $1.
Have a Staycation: A growing number of hotels across the globe are capitalizing on the digital detox movement, introducing ways for guests to take timeout from their tech-driven lives. Digital Wellness Escapes and Digital Detox Packages are on the rise in urban settings, encouraging guests to ditch the phone for a weekend or an hour or two, in favor of offline “me time” activities. Mindful journaling, letter writing, and in-room meditation sessions are just some ways city hotels are inviting guests to reconnect with themselves and others – without having to venture out of town.
Whether you’re in dire need of a digital detox, or simply want to spend a little less time on your phone, there are a number of steps you can take each day, to par back your digital routine. If you take the initiative, you may switch on to greater productivity, a better personal life, and a surprising phenomenon – that the world keeps turning in your absence.