Most of us are a little guilty these days of being a little too attached to our electronic devices. I’m totally guilty, but it’s so hard when it helps us connect so easily. And when it helps me take so many pictures of my kids. I’m not so bad when I’m in the presence of others (picture-taking excluded, of course), but when I’m by myself, my phone is in my hands more often than not. It’s not always a good thing though, so I try to step away from the devices so I can be totally present — with my kids, with my husband, and just in life. Here are a few tricks I’ve used to step away from the devices and take part in the FBG Unplug Challenge!
11 Tricks to Unplug
1. Out of sight, out of mind. Leave your phone in another room. If it’s harder to get to it, you’ll check it less, with the added benefit of noticing just how much you want to go check it. Reality check!
2. Turn it off. Pick a day each week to turn it off completely — or take baby steps and designate a few hours each day where your devices are off. Let people know you’ll be unavailable at those times and enjoy!
3. Put it down at meals. Take time to savor and enjoy your meals without having your phone in hand. Whether you’re alone or with company, take the opportunity to notice the smells and tastes — without the side of cell.
4. Leave it at home. I know, it can seem totally crazy, but leave the cell phone at home altogether if you’re leaving the house for the day or the evening. This one can be a little “scary” — I rely so much on my phone for directions and navigation — but at least try it when you know someone else will have a phone you can rely on in emergencies. It’s freeing to know that you can’t check for email even if you wanted to.
5. Avoid checking it when you’re with others. If you’re out to dinner with friends or going to a movie or even just visiting a friend for a long overdue chat, avoid checking that phone. Give the attention to the person you’re with out of respect for their time and attention. Better yet, make it a rule you leave the phones in a stack in the middle of the dinner table or keep them put away for the visit.
6. Check it hourly — or every few hours. Unless your wife is about to go into labor, try to avoid checking it every minute. That text, Facebook update or Instagram comment will still be there in an hour or two.
7. Delete the social apps. If social media is a time sink for you, delete it on your phone. Keeping Twitter and Pinterest to computer or tablet time can limit checking it unnecessarily.
8. Limit the games. I get hugely addicted to games, so I avoid putting them on my cell phone. Limiting them to the iPad makes it much harder to play them anywhere — particularly when they need an internet connection.
9. Say goodnight. Put your devices away for the night at a pre-designated time. It’s better for your sleep to avoid electronics an hour before bedtime, so put them away at 9 p.m. or so and give yourself a chance to relax, decompress, read or meditate to wind down for the night.
10. Don’t grab it first thing in the morning. Do you grab your phone as soon as you turn off the alarm clock? Is your phone your alarm clock? If so, put it down after hopping out of bed and get your day started without it. Enjoy the bright sunlight, chirping birds and beautiful morning without the cell in your hands.
11. Remind yourself of what you did before the technology. I specifically remember dragging my heels when it came to getting a cell phone; I was one of the last people I knew to get one back in 2003. Whenever I feel like I’m a little too addicted, I try to get back to that bygone era in my mind and remember what it was like to get lost on occasion and have to stop for directions or return an email hours after it was sent.
How do you get yourself to unplug? —Erin