In this guest blog post, Britt from Tiny Ambitions shares six steps to quickly and easily unplug from tech in your every day life.
It’s been said that we don’t go online anymore — we live online. For some of us, our entire lives (and livelihoods) are online. And while it's undeniably great to have constant access to pretty much anything and everything we want, that comes at a price to our health and well-being. It’s fair to say that we could all stand to spend a little less time on our technology and a little more time unplugged.
Though claiming you’re going to spend time unplugged is a great first step, what does that actually look like? The best way to spend less time online is by creating some healthy technology boundaries. What your boundaries will look like will be unique based on your day to day life and what makes sense for you, but here are tested recommendations from the Flipd community.
1. Take a Digital Detox
For starters, commit to spending one hour a day off your phone, laptop or tablet. If one hour sounds like an eternity, start with 15 minutes and work your way up from there. If one hour is a breeze for you (surely the lucky few), try spending an entire day off your tech. And if that still isn’t enough of a challenge for you, block out a couple of days or even weeks and go off the grid.
If you’re having some serious FOMO while unplugged, know this — the world will not end if you don’t go online for a few hours. I can assure you it will be right where you left it.
To make this step even easier, set up an email auto-responder to reply for you while you're away, proclaim your detox intentions across your social channels, and you can even manually set up your phone to automatically text people back using the iOS Drive Mode feature.
2. Give Yourself Some Space
Sometimes the pull of a blinking or vibrating phone is just too much of a temptation. If the thought of spending time off your phone sounds like torture, you might have to do what's best for yourself and cut the cord — metaphorically speaking.
The problem is that most brains are no match for the allure of shiny technology, so if you (like most of us) need more help unplugging, try putting your phone in another room for an evening. If you’re spending the night reading in your living room, your phone and other devices, could live in your bedroom closet.
The farther away your phone is from you, the easier it will be to deal with the temptation of wanting to check it.
3. Create a Tech-Free Zone
If steps 1 and 2 were relatively easy for you, it’s time to turn things up a notch.
Establish a tech-free zone somewhere in your house — like a tech-free bedroom or living room for starters. The point is this: whatever room you choose, stick to it. A tech-free zone means no phone, no tablet, no laptop. Ever. Period.
Any time you walk into your tech-free space, check your phone and other gadgets at the door — literally. You'll be surprised how quickly this space becomes your go-to relaxation haven where no distractions are welcome.
4. Replace the Habit
If the first thing you do in the morning is check your social media, or it's the last thing you do before bed, it’s time for an intervention.
An important part of spending less time on your technology and more time unplugged is replacing the bad habit. You could replace scrolling through social media with reading a book or going for a walk around your neighborhood. You could kick your late-night email habit by doing some gentle yoga or meditating. You could get back to your roots by spending some real face time with your friends and family. Or, if you must use technology to wind down, use it in a more productive way like to plan your schedule, reflect on the day in a digital journal, write a to-do list, or listen to a calming podcast.
Whatever you do, ask yourself if the way you're using your phone at the start and end of your day is truly positive for yourself — and if it's not, then ditch any bad habits for something better.
5. Time Yourself
Since so much of our lives are online these days, it's unrealistic to kick technology to the curb for good. The thing is, that doesn’t mean you need to spend endless hours consuming content and scrolling your social feeds.
So, if you want to spend more time offline, give yourself a technology time-limit. For example, give yourself a five minute time slot a couple of times a day where you can check in with your online life. Set a timer for five minutes, and when it goes off, put the tech down and go about the rest of your day. Whatever your limit, make sure it's reasonable for you so you can actually stick to it.
Side note for iPhone users — iOS 12's latest feature, Screentime, lets you set limits on apps, which is a great way to curb excessive screen habits.
6. Curate Your Feeds
This might not seem like rocket science, but you should only follow people online whose content you actually enjoy. We all have limited mental bandwidth, so you shouldn’t engage with things online that you don’t have a genuine interest in. It’s your feed. It should show you things that add value to your life.
Be picky — there's really no need to pay attention the lives of 1000+ people.
Plus, the less stuff you follow online, the less time you will naturally spend on your technology.
Yes, it can feel daunting at first when you commit to unplugging from time to time.
But the key to your success will be about building sustainable habits that work with your reality and sticking to them. There's no perfect formula for what will work for you, so use the examples above as a starting point and adjust as you go. No matter how hard unplugging seems at first, your future self will thank you.
Britt is the founder of Tiny Ambitions, a blog, podcast, and creative community where she explores simple, minimalist living. Her journey into minimalism and simple living began in 2014 when she donated, sold, and recycled most of her belongings in favor of a less cluttered life. Her blog and Tiny Bites podcast share personal stories like these about her experiences as a minimalist and how others can take the plunge. It's through her podcast where the Flipd team discovered Britt, and she's been one of our leading ambassadors ever since.
Want to become a Flipd ambassador like Britt? Here's how.