In this day and age, many of us a tweet, post, text, and snap our way through daily life. Whether we’re documenting events or keeping in constant touch, our reliance on our digital devices has become a major distraction from work, relationships, and attaining a healthy sense of self. It’s commonplace to walk into a restaurant or coffee shop and see groups of people seated together staring at their respective phones instead of engaging each other in conversation.
Chances are, you’re one of the culprits. According to Pew Research, 73% of us go online every day, 42% go online multiple times a day, and 21% of us admit to being online almost constantly! Being in contact 24/7 has its conveniences for professional and social purposes, but, often, it has the potential to cause 24/7 stress and distraction as well. Here are a few tips on how to reduce screen time for a more balanced digital life:
Try taking periodic breaks from technology. According to The Harvard Business Review, unplugging from your devices has proven to be a successful way to combat digital distraction during the day. Take mindful breaks during which you stash your laptop, phone, and tablet into a drawer and take a walk, read a book, or to converse with a coworker. Work in ascending intervals of time, starting at 5-minute breaks and working up to 30-minutes. Then, reward yourself with by checking back in with the digital world to see what you missed. Chances are, the world kept turning as it always has- even without you online to witness each event as it unfolds!
Have people come to expect a 30-second turnaround from you when it comes to email, texting, and phone calls? If you feel a mini panic attack coming on every time your phone beeps, buzzes, or vibrates, it might be time for a change. Metro suggests changing people’s expectations when it comes to your digital response times. Do this by defining your availability. Change your voicemail to inform callers that they can expect a call back in the next 24 hours. Set up an auto-response on your email to let people know you’ll be away from your computer for a certain amount of time. Post on social media that you’re taking a break. Setting these boundaries can help reduce the stress of constant availability and can lessen your digital distraction while you take a break from your devices.
Your bed is for sleeping, and nothing more. Bringing technology into the bedroom opens you up for further digital stress and distractions when you are supposed to be winding down and recharging. Late-night emails and scrolling through your social media feed can only negatively affect your sleep.
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According to WebMD, the lights from your phone screen suppress melatonin, the hormone that alerts your brain that it’s bedtime. Using technology before bed can also set your mind racing, a distraction that can cause bouts of insomnia. Try putting your phone in a drawer and shutting off the ringer at least an hour before bedtime so that you can get some quality shuteye.
Perhaps your devices and digital distractions are just too present. We’ve mentioned hiding your phone and turning off the ringer during technology breaks, but there’s more you can do. See what happens when you banish your social media apps to page three of your iPhone. Close out the email application on your laptop if you’re trying to type in Word without distraction. Spend time in the dining room or another room that doesn’t have a TV in it. Becoming mindful of your surroundings is more achievable without digital distractions which can cut down on the stresses it brings.
Temporarily disconnecting from technology means fewer digital distractions. It also means more time for personal reflection and healthy relationships. While the ability to multi-task can be beneficial, it’s also the source of digitally-induced stress that can be contained once you’ve conditioned yourself to take breaks. Once you’ve started to see the difference unplugging from devices makes, you might swap your constant news feed swiping to embrace a life that’s free of digital distractions.
Do you think the constant contact of the digital world has been beneficial or deleterious in your life?