While many of us would love to be able to power off all our devices and completely disconnect for a few days, in a world where hyperconnectedness is the norm, it’s not always an option. If, like me, you work in the digital sphere, leaving your smartphone at home, even for a day, isn’t possible if you want to keep your job.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to lighten our digital load while staying connected. There are lots of little tweaks we can make to ensure that all the tech we use on a daily basis remains a convenience, not an intrusion.
This is one of the best ways to keep your inbox clutter-free, and maybe one day even get it down to that semi-mythical “inbox empty” status. Most of us have get email newsletters from at least a few sources that we always send directly to the trash without reading them. Next time these show up, instead of clicking delete, take the extra couple of seconds to open that email, scroll to the bottom and click “unsubscribe.” In Canada, it’s mandatory for senders of email newsletters to provide a way to unsubscribe from their lists. Do this every time you come across a newsletter you find yourself never reading and you’ll be surprised how quickly your inbox tidies up!
You can also apply this tactic to social media. You know that person you went to high school with who’s always posting things that you just kind of find … irritating? (We all have a few in our feeds.) Maybe it’s time to unfollow them – or at least hide their posts. Social media is meant to be a fun tool to foster connectedness, but lately we’ve been seeing studies linking excessive use of social media to depression and anxiety. Bring social media back to its fun and practical roots by making sure you’re only connected to people you’d like to connect to IRL.
Don’t Let Push Notifications Push You Around
Do you really need to know the moment your friend comments on your latest Facebook status or Instagram photo? I didn’t think so. Modify the notifications on your smartphone so that you’re only being pinged about the items most likely to need your immediate attention, and save the rest for when you have time to check in with that particular site or app.
Declare Your Bedroom a Device-Free Zone
We should all have a place in our homes where no smartphones, televisions or computers are allowed. The bedroom makes sense because it’s about resting, relaxing and not working. By making your bedroom a place where you can unplug both literally and metaphorically, you’ll sleep better, especially if you step away from the screens an hour before bedtime.
Go Analog – When Feasible
I love my laptop and smartphone. I love that they make my life easier, and I love that they speed up so many of my daily tasks. That said, I spend a lot of time staring at screens, both for work and for fun. Not only can too much screen time be tough on your eyes, it can also affect your sleep cycle and even change the way your brain works. Switch to good old-fashioned pen and paper for tasks like copyediting (I find that I catch more typos when I’m working on paper anyway) and taking notes. Studies even show that if you write, rather than type your notes, you’ll retain more of the information. When you’re reading, use an e-reader that has an e-ink screen (no backlight) or pick up a paper copy.
If doing all of this at once seems too much to handle, just start by introducing one of these new habits a day, or even just one a week and let your tech detox habits build over time.
How has technology helped your wellness journey?
What drives you crazy about it?
Share with us in the comments below!