Isn’t it… *ding*… really annoying… *ding*… when you can’t seem to… *ding*… get through anything… *ding*… without another… you saw this one coming right? *Ding*.
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. All the dings on all the days for all the distractions. Or am I the only one who experiences this? I think not.
Americans as a whole are more connected than ever, but what is our “connection” really costing us? Studies show that being glued to our devices constantly can really be a drain on our brains, our health, and ultimately, our relationships.
But our devices are so shiny and useful and interesting, so what are some practical ways we can unplug, to truly leave time and space for what matters most?
Here are ten ways that you can unplug (for a little while, at least) so you can truly plug into those things that make life beautiful.
1. Refrain from checking your phone first thing in the morning.
Imagine how refreshing a morning would be if instead of looking at a much-too-bright-so-early screen and scrolling through feeds of people who often aren’t really a part of our lives, we did something different.
Maybe got up and stretched. Smiled and kissed our significant others. Prayed or reflected on the day ahead. That sounds like a much better way to start the day than reading a Facebook rant, in my opinion.
2. Turn off notification sounds and sights.
All that dinging. Buzzing. Ringing. It’s enough to make you crazy if you let it. As the head of a brand, I know if I left my notification sounds on all day, they would literally be going off every thirty seconds or a minute.
We all experience this to some degree and there’s little that will instantly kill your productivity more quickly than being stopped constantly to see who “liked” your post or commented on the photo of your lunch.
3. Uninstall apps from your phone or at minimum, put them on a separate page- not your home screen.
If you turn off sounds and the little notification icons, but your Instagram app still pulls at you every time you see it, to just open it real quick, and the next thing you know it’s been an hour, then try this tip. If you’re feeling really dedicated, uninstall the application from your device completely. You will absolutely spend less time on your phone this way, simply from the inconvenience factor.
One of the quickest ways to break a bad habit is to make it super inconvenient to engage in. If this is a little too extreme, then simply move the app to a secondary page (not your home screen), so you at least have to make a concerted effort to locate it and it isn’t staring at you every time you do anything on your phone.
4. Have a turn off time in the evening.
There’s something about eight p.m. that just feels right to me on this one. Of course, you should determine your own schedule based on your own needs, but choose a point in your evening where it’s past phone call time to unplug from having a screen in your face constantly.
Go rock on the back porch and take in the view, read a good book, go on a walk, or relax in a bubble bath. Begin to unwind and unplug for the evening and you will instantly feel its benefits, I promise.
5. Don’t take your phone out at dinner or social events. Interact instead with those who are actually there in person.
There are so many reasons to do this. First off, it’s just proper etiquette. No one likes being out with a friend to dinner and having the other person pull out their phone. It’s the quickest way to express I’m here with you, but I’d actually rather be anywhere else without saying a word.
As a bonus, we get to actually talk and interact with people who are in the same room with us. Novel idea, right?
6. Interact and connect twice a day- at the beginning and at the end. Don’t check every little notification all. day. long.
This one is simple and powerful- check your pages and interact on them twice a day. In the morning (but not first thing!) and then in the evening before your shut off time.
This way, you get an overview and don’t miss much (if anything). You’re able to see how many likes you got that day without having to check every single one as it comes in.
7. Set clear parameters with friends, family, employers, etc. about hours you are available (and those you are not).
Depending on your work and family schedule, these will vary from person to person, but the fact remains that you can clearly and easily set boundaries if you choose to do so. Set up a voicemail that informs your callers the hours you are available and responsive and that if it is beyond those limits, they can expect to hear from you when your hours resume the next day.
One great trick is to put your phone on airplane mode and allow only those most important to bypass the system. That way, you will always know in the case of an emergency or something truly important that those who matter most have access to you. In the meantime, the rest of the world can wait. Setting boundaries actually leads to respect, not annoyance, in the long run.
8. Set up an auto responder… especially when you are on vacation or traveling for work… and stick to it!
Much like what we just discussed for your voicemail, set up auto responders on your email as well. If you go on vacation and indicate you won’t be available for the week except in emergency cases, then abide by that.
Don’t put it out there and then backtrack on your own word– stick to what you say and it will be much healthier for everyone involved. Remember, self care is not selfish. Period.
9. Minimize the number of friends you have on social media (or at minimum, those you ‘follow’) to people that you actually have in your life. Or, at the least, don’t get wrapped up for an hour in looking at their cat photos or baby pictures.
I don’t know what it is about scrolling through that can just get us for hours, but we’ve all been there. When you really look at it, however, many times, it’s a waste. I mean, does it really impact your life what your third grade teacher’s cat went to the vet for that day? Or what your ex girlfriend’s sister’s baby looks like on her first birthday?
Yes, we have legitimate connections and people we want to interact with, and it’s certainly a great thing to stay in touch. But if we are spending time with all our “friends” (you know, all those people we stalk on social media, but literally haven’t talked to in fifteen years in person) at the expense of our self care, pursuing our dreams, or just fun stuff (like having sex!) then something is really off base.
10. Practice looking into eyes instead of screens and talking instead of typing. Connecting face to face will ease the desire to find connection online so often.
The more we connect in person, with people who are there that we can hug and touch and smile at and hear laugh, the less we crave the oftentimes false connection that internet friends bring. Am I slamming the internet and connecting with others on it? Obviously not, seeing as how I built an entire brand and business around such. I actually love the internet!
But we have to keep our online connections in their proper place- as an aide to our interactions and not as the end all be all of our social life. Remember when we were kids and would go outside in the sunshine and fly a kite or ride a bike or have a picnic? Let’s do more of that. And then we can post about it on Facebook when we get home. 😉
Until next time, lifers.