Digital detox for beginners
When was the last time you and your phone were separated? Let’s say for an hour. You two in two different rooms. Remember that? No? Neither do I and it’s scary. My phone and I aren’t glued together but… It’s time for a planned, digital detox!
It all started last year when I went on a holiday and international roaming wasn’t working. It was an absolute shock – it happened on my work phone and I was supposed to give a presentation. Little did I know then that international roaming hadn’t been set up by the company. If I had, trust me, relaxation would have kicked in a lot sooner. The first few days were like cold turkey. Luckily, my personal phone was still working and I had my connection to back home. At the end of the week, I realised something had to change. I didn’t want to be so dependent on phone, tablet, laptop, you name it.
Realise why your motive for detoxing
During that holiday, I became more aware of how quickly I snapped a picture rather than memorising the picture. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in photography and capturing the moment. Yet, the moments that are still engrained in my memory are, for example, flying over Afghanistan and seeing this deep orange coloured landscape with no cities or the clear blue sky over the European mountain Mount Blanc. To me, I didn’t appear to be aware of my surroundings any more. What’s your personal desire to detox from your devices?
Decide how you’d like to live with your electronic devices
Now, unless you’re willing to up all electronic devices, you’ll probably continue using them. The question is just how much? Will you let emails interrupt you every time they’ll announce their presence in your inbox with a sound? Would you like to have a real conversation with your loved ones over dinner? Are you okay for friends pinging you during the middle of the night and not only waking you but also your spouse up?
If the examples above are a bit too much, setting boundaries during your digital detox is actually a lot easier than you think. Instead of your phone fetching emails, go into your settings and change it to “Push”. This way, your emails only make a sound when you’re checking your inbox. Or simply turn the sound off!
Make it a rule that for certain times, the mobile, iPad or what have you is not to be used. This could be during family meal times or dinner with your loved one, like Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt does. If you’re afraid that there’s nothing to talk about, create a few questions as conversation starters. Examples could be “What’s your kindest childhood memory?”, “What’s the most exotic food you’ve ever tried?” or “If you could meet any historic person, who would you like to meet? And what would you ask them?”
Unless you’re a doctor on standby, you don’t need to be constantly available. Studies have shown how bad blue light syndrome is for your sleep. Turn it off when going to sleep. Your alarm will still wake you or buy a traditional alarm. Give yourself some quality sleep again.
Do something else
There may be times when you’ll use your phone to surf the internet without any real reason or check what your friends are up to. During the digital detox, devote your time (and hands and eyes) to a different activity: Go to the gym or walk on the beach, meet a friend for coffee and actively listen to what they have to say, open up that book you meant to read all of last year, be creative and paint your fantasy world (with or without your kids).
Don’t give up
Detoxing, whether it’s digital or food related, is not always easy. Don’t give up if you jumped back at your phone. Expand the period of not using it a little bit more every time, for example, from not checking your phone for 15 minutes, you’ll make it 30 minutes and then 45 minutes. Changing a habit can take time, allow yourself to re-start if you didn’t reach your goals on your first attempt.
As weekends are generally filed with fun activities in Dubai, why not use this weekend to start detoxing? Go to the shop near your home without the phone. Prepare dinner without your phone in the same room. Don’t check emails or social media for 15 minutes. Can you do it? Yes, great! Increase it to 30 minutes, 1 hour and so on to gradually give you more quality of time back. Let us know what you experienced this weekend. I’d love to hear your story.
Until next time,