Five Ways to Incorporate a Digital Detox Into Your Daily Routine

By Kaylin R. Staten

With the 24/7/365 news cycle and supplemental phone/social media/Netflix addictions, it could be hard to step away from the life you’ve created online. Most of us check our phones at least 200 times per day, no matter our occupation.

When I first met my husband, I’ll admit that I had a phone addiction. I mean, the phone went everywhere with me. I scrolled through social media while in the bathroom, I slept with my phone beside me and I was always quick to respond to each and every request sent my way.

While I work in a very connected environment, times away from the digital world are absolutely essential to my mental health and wellbeing. I’m sure you could benefit from time away from the harmful blue lights of screens, too (and yes, even the filtered light settings).

Here are five ways you can take a break from all things digital, whether it’s for a nice, relaxing evening, weekend or an even longer stint:

Schedule conversations and meetings in-person.

Many of us rely on messaging platforms to communicate. Sending a quick text to ask about a meeting or talking with an influencer on social media is one thing. When it becomes your primary form of communication, you may want to branch outside of your comfort zone. Today’s world of A.I. and less face-to-face interaction is so impersonal. While I am an introvert by nature, I still find time to schedule meetings, conversations and other happenings with actual humans.

Use a smartwatch to screen notifications.

My husband gave me a Michael Kors Access Runway watch for Christmas. It helps me to not have my phone around as much. All of my calls, texts, emails and other important notifications vibrate my watch upon arrival. So, I know when something is important and and when it’s just a notification of fluff. Using a secondary device helps you stay focused during normal work days and schedule a much needed detox. Leave your phone in another room or in your bag or pocket during meetings. It’s oddly liberating.

Pay attention to the time spent on your phone, and…

If you have an Apple device, it’s easy to monitor your time spent on certain apps. You can also download an app like Space and set your own parameters. My account tracks how many times I’ve unlocked my phone in a given day, screen time and more. I use my phone for work, so naturally, I give myself a free pass if I’ve had a particularly busy day #behindthehourglass. However, if I’m just sitting at home -- attempting to relax -- unlocking my phone hundreds of times within a day just isn’t the most productive way to spend my time.

…Modify your phone behaviors accordingly.

It’s 2 p.m. and you take a break by surfing the Internet. The next thing you know, you’re several hops away from where you began, and it’s after 3 p.m. Where did the time go? Into the black abyss of surfing the web. If you’re noticing that you’re not getting your work done in a timely fashion, are feeling overwhelmed, or any combination of the two, you may want to regroup to see what you can do better. Prioritizing and setting time management goals is a good way to slowly decrease your unproductive screen time. (And yes, you can still schedule some mindless fun.)

Don’t take your phone in the bedroom.

I’ve been trying to ease into a regular digital detox routine, but I still bring my phone and iPad into the bedroom. I like to read eBooks before hitting the hay. This is one addiction I am still working on, so fingers crossed that 2019 is the year of less screen time before sleeping! It’s also recommended to not have the TV on while trying to go to sleep, as it prevents you from getting your nightly dose of natural melatonin and going into a deeper REM sleep -- just like looking at your phone screen before bed.

I’ve already noticed a difference since receiving my smart watch. I prioritize my time better and am not a slave to my phone screen. I think it’s time for all of us to take some breaks from our devices, social media accounts and anything linking us to the digital realm from time to time. Our mental health depends on it!

Copyright © MMXIX Hourglass Media, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten, APR is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Media, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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