With growing evidence that digital interaction can harm us, it’s time we took a break…
In today’s frenetically paced world where you are glued to your devices, a digital detox can do wonders for your body and mind. Not only can digital devices be addictive; they are also bad for your health and can affect your sleep. See: Digital Detox: The Importance of Unplugging for Entrepreneurs. Digital detox entails refraining from using your computer, tablet or smartphone. It’s tough no doubt, but necessary.
We’re not advocating that you give up your electronic devices. Entrepreneurs need to be connected to the world and for that you need your computer or mobile phone. However, you could ease your use of these devices; you don’t need to be constantly plugged in.
Here are some tips to help you:
1) Set aside times to switch off devices or your Wi-Fi: You don’t need your phone on all the time, do you? There are folks who keep their phones next to their bedside. If they wake up in the night, they check notifications and even reply to mails and texts. All this does is disturb your sleep. So, why don’t you turn off the data or Wi-Fi on your phone every night before you go to sleep? Better still, keep your phone in another room. I turn off my internet connection and put my phone on silent every night, and I’ve found that it really helps me get a good night’s sleep.
2) Stop checking devices two hours before sleep: The blue light emitted by devices disturbs your sleep. So, it makes sense to stop checking your phone, tablet or PC at least two hours before you sleep. I’ve tried this, and it works. I’ve found that when I check my phone right up till the moment I sleep, I have a disturbed sleep. Whereas if I stop using the phone a couple of hours before, I get a good night’s sleep.
3) Keep your phone away during mealtimes: Concentrate on eating your meal and enjoying it with your family or friends. You don’t need your phone as a distraction.
4) Turn off notifications on your phone: If you are a busy entrepreneur and need to check your email regularly, keep email notifications on. But you can turn off notifications for all social media sites. They only serve to distract you.
5) Delete unnecessary apps: Do you need Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram, YouTube or Messenger on your phone? If you need any of these for work-related stuff, keep them. Delete all the others. They only serve to distract you from your work and day-to-day living. You could always check them on your computer during your free time.
6) Don’t check your phone while working: When I’m working on my computer, I turn off the internet connection on my phone. This way, I’m not tempted to check WhatsApp or other social media sites. I can give my work my complete attention.
7) Set aside time for social media: Trawling social media sites eats up a lot of your time. You could try clocking yourself for a few days and see how much time you waste in scrolling through videos and photographs. That is time you could have spent productively in growing your business or with loved ones. Set aside and hour or two to check Facebook, Instagram, etc and adhere to it.
8) Assign yourself non-screen time daily: Chances are that when you work, you are on your laptop, computer or phone. So, you need time to live in the real world, without staring at a gadget or device all day. You could set aside time in the evening to exercise, take a walk, read or do something you love. Try and keep two hours a day for yourself…to do what you want.
9) Respond to emails and texts at assigned times: This can difficult, especially when you have a burgeoning business. If you need to respond to business-related mails, then do so by all means. But other mails and texts can wait. Reply to them during the time you have kept aside for doing so.
10) Don’t check your smartphone first thing in the morning: Is your phone the first thing you reach out for in the morning? Well don’t! Give yourself time to get up, savor a hot cup of coffee or tea, talk to your family, read the newspaper… If you are in the habit of checking your phone as soon as you wake up, the habit may be hard to break. Do it incrementally: start with checking it only after 15 minutes and slowly increase that time.
11) Have a digital-free day: Sounds scary, doesn’t it? The though of not logging onto your computer or not scrolling through your phone can cause withdrawal symptoms in most of us! But if you find you are addicted (or in the process getting addicted), then keeping away from devices for a day will have so many positive benefits. Start with a couple of hours every Sunday; keep increasing the time till you can go without it for the whole day. You may answer phone calls but no checking YouTube, emails or any social media site. Instead, spend time with family and friends, play board games, catch a movie, go on a trek…live life!
Digital detox is not as tough as it seems. It can be done. Initially when I tried it, there were times the temptation to check my phone was very strong but now, it’s become a habit for me and I find my life so enriched. I have time to read, do yoga, meditate, exercise, spend time with friends, listen to music and so much more. With that extra time in hand, you will find yourself more productive, more at peace and definitely happier.