Learn how and why to disconnect from devices for a weekend or even just a few hours!
You wake up and check your phone for any notifications you missed while sleeping. After responding to a few emails, you’re ready to start your day. After a shower, you hop in the car and open up a traffic app to navigate to the office while listening to your favorite podcast on the way.
Once you get to the office, you turn your computer on, put your earbuds in, and listen to your favorite focus playlist. Throughout the day, you’re interrupted by notifications from your email, Facebook, text messages from friends, calendar reminders, and app notifications.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If you’re like the 85% of American adults
who go on the Internet daily, you’re not alone. We’re living in a connected society where it’s increasingly becoming more common for many people to be connected to a device throughout the day.
Like anything else, moderation is the key to having a healthy relationship with technology. But sometimes, it becomes difficult to disconnect from our devices once they become a daily part of our lives. Below, we’ll dive into how to disconnect from technology, specifically devices and social media.
Why disconnecting from technology is important
From medical advances to educational opportunities, technology has greatly improved our lives in a lot of ways. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And this certainly applies to technology and our connected devices.
Whether you are disconnecting for a couple of hours, a whole weekend, or over the course of a week-long vacation, getting away from your device for a while will allow you to reset and reconnect with what’s important to you. Without the distraction of your device, you can be more mindful of what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment with friends and family or just your own thoughts.
Not only does disconnecting from devices help you be more present in the moment, but studies show it can also improve your sleep
, help deepen the connections
you have with others, and boost productivity and learning
. Not to mention, it gives you more time to do the things that are important to you without interruption.
One study even found that spending too much time online “liking others content” and clicking on links can negatively impact self-reported physical health and mental health as well as overall life satisfaction. That means that taking a break may decrease anxiety and depression.
When you find yourself losing focus, it may be time to unplug from technology a bit. Time away from technology can look different for everyone. For some, it may be just limiting your device use to just one hour each day, not using your devices during certain hours of the day, or even unplugging from all technology for a few days.
5 ways to unplug from technology
Ready for a little break from your devices? It may not feel natural to be away from devices you are usually attached to all day. However, when it’s time to take a break, you need to know how to unplug from technology so you can focus more on the things that are most important to you.
Here are just 5 ways you can unplug from your devices:
1. Decrease the number of notifications.
Notifications are one of the biggest factors that contribute to technology being disruptive. If you want to decrease the amount of time you spend on your device, decrease the number of notifications you’re getting on the computer, laptop, iPad, iPhone, Android cellphone, or any other connected device.
You can turn off notifications completely by putting your phone on “Do Not Disturb” or setting it to airplane mode and turning off the wi-fi connection. If there are some notifications that you still need to get, then you can set your notification preferences for each app to reduce the number of total notifications (aka distractions) you’ll get throughout the day.
2. Don’t carry your device with you all day.
If you can, try leaving your phone at home when you go out for quick errands or meet up with friends or family. When you’re at work, leave your device on your desk or in a drawer and avoid bringing it with you to meetings, meals, or bathroom breaks. If you’re traveling, leave your computer at home.
For some people, it isn’t possible to remove devices from their side because they need to have their phones on for emergencies. If this is you, place your phone with the screen side down. That way, you can still hear your phone if it rings, but you won’t be tempted to look at it all day.
3. Plan activities that don’t mix well with technology.
Whether you’re planning a disconnected vacation or just want to spend a weekend unplugged, planning activities that don’t mix well with technology is a good way to make sure the phone, tablet, laptop, and other mobile devices don’t make an appearance. The more physical and fun the activity, the less likely you will be to be glued to your device.
While on vacation or taking an unplugged weekend, look for special physical activities like snorkeling, skiing, or hiking that make it difficult to carry a device. Even non-physical activities like relaxing on the beach or enjoying a meal with a family member can be phone-free if you make a pact to leave them off and away beforehand.
4. Limit the times you use technology.
For some people, it doesn’t make sense to completely disconnect, especially when it’s a typical workweek and you have to use technology to do your job and stay connected to your team. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t limit the times you allow yourself to use technology. Set certain hours of the day that you use screens or set a limit for how many hours you can use devices each day.
To promote a healthier work-life balance and decrease your screen time, you may decide to only look at your phone or device between certain hours of the day, like 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. That means no email, social media, or reading anything on your phone, tablet, or computer outside of those hours. In fact, leave your work devices at work or keep them put away during “you time.”
Start small by just limiting your screen time around bedtime. The blue light from your screen can actually make it harder for you to get to sleep and have a quality night’s rest. Stop screen use an hour or two before bedtime. You can even place your charger in another room, so you’re not tempted to use your phone. (Just remember to pick up an actual alarm clock if you’re currently using your phone for that!)
5. Find an accountability partner.
Deciding you want to disconnect from devices and actually doing it are two different things. Even after you commit to remaining unplugged, you may find yourself tempted (or even automatically reaching for) your devices. Having an accountability partner can make it easier for you to stick to your plan to stay unplugged.
Your accountability partner can be someone who lives with you like a partner, friend, or family member who is also committed to unplugging more often. You can remind each other when you accidentally reach for a device or just encourage you to stay strong when it gets hard.
You can also make an effort to be unplugged when you’re spending time with others and have them hold you accountable. For example, when you go out to dinner with friends, you can all decide to leave your devices off and away during the time you spend together. This will make it much easier to stay disconnected.
How to disconnect from social media
While unplugging from technology will certainly help you cut down on your social media use, sometimes you just want to take a social media break and continue to use technology for work and emergencies.
Here are some tips for how to disconnect from social media, if only for a weekend.
1. Decide how long you want to take a break, and stick to it.
Sometimes having a defined period for your break makes it easier for you to stick to it. Knowing that the break won’t be forever will make it easier to forgo your favorite social media apps for a while.
Set a starting date and ending date before you go dark, and make a commitment to stick to it. Take some preventative steps to make sure that the temptation of social media isn’t going to compromise the break you’re going to take.
2. Let people know you’re taking a break.
Not everything needs to be announced to your social media audience. However, telling someone or a handful of people that you are taking a social media break is helpful in providing accountability.
While they may not say anything when they see you online the day after you said you were taking a break, sometimes just knowing that other people know your intentions will help you stay the course.
3. Delete the social apps from your phone.
If you’re taking a social media break but plan on still using your mobile device, you may want to delete your social media apps from your phone. That way, you aren’t tempted to get on Facebook or Instagram when you see a notification or find yourself automatically swiping to where the app is on your phone.
Remember, you can always re-install your social apps later. This doesn’t delete your account or compromise any of your information. It just allows you to get the apps off your phone so that you are not likely to break your social media fast early.
Disconnecting from devices and social media can be a challenge, especially when you’re accustomed to being connected all day, every day. However, if you make an effort to make changes that make it easier to unplug, you’ll be able to spend less time connected and more time doing whatever you want!
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