Were you ever in one of those unhealthy relationships in high school where you lived and breathed for your boyfriend, but he didn’t really do much in return? Well, that’s how it goes for most of us these days — except the codependency is with the phone.
Sure, our phones provide us with information, entertainment, and even joy. But they’re taking away just as much (or maybe more!) than they give. How many times have you been in conversation with a friend, and she stops mid sentence to check the buzzing coming from her bag? Or even worse, you’ve felt compelled to do the same with your child?
It happens. But it doesn’t have to become a way of life.
Once you’re aware of your codependency with your phone, you can take steps to pull back. A digital detox is a great way to create more space in your life for friends, family and yourself.
10 Tips to Break Away From Your Phone
1. Turn it off at 8 p.m. each evening. An old boss once gave great advice by telling me never to reply to business emails after 8. He explained that whatever is calling from the inbox can wait until the next day. The same goes for your phone. Give your close friends and family an alternative (like a landline) to reach you if there’s an emergency in the evening.
2. Keep it off until 8 a.m. the next day. There’s nothing like waking up to the blink and buzz of your phone that sends the brain into overdrive right away. Start your morning mindfully, and try to keep the peace until at least 8 a.m.
3. Turn off push notifications. If you really want to use your phone, and not be used by your phone, then turn off your notifications. You don’t need to know every time someone likes your Instagram photo. Set a time when you will check in with everything you need to stay updated with.
4. Clear your home screen. This will help with distractions. When there’s nothing on your home screen you won’t be tempted to pop into Facebook for a quick fix (which often ends up in 20 minutes of mindless scroll). Instead you will go directly to the app you need to be in.
5. Delete the apps you don’t use. Take 10 minutes and go through your phone to get rid of everything you’re not using. This process will streamline your phone and remove the clutter.
6. Unsubscribe from email lists. Remove yourself from all subscriptions that no longer interest you. This could be old classes and programs you or your child once took, or a retail store where you no longer shop. Again, clear the clutter!
7. Unfollow people on social media you don’t care about. Just because you’re doing a digital detox doesn’t mean you have to end all your social media relationships. Just unfollow the ones you don’t care about. Why do you want to spend time reading about the niece of someone who you went to middle school with, especially if you’re not even in touch with this old classmate? Delete!
8. Go old school with your reading materials. Rather than squintin under the glaring light of iBooks at night, go analog and read a regular book! This will prevent the all-too-familiar app hop — you know that thing you do when you close one app only to immediately open up another.
9. Leave it at home for short errands. Unless you’re on call for something serious, you probably can leave your phone at home for short periods. The first time you do this, you may feel withdrawal and imagine that you’re feeling the buzz of a notification. The more you can go without your phone, the more free you will feel.
10. Have everyone put their phones on the table at meals, and the first person to pick theirs up has to pay for the meal. This turns your digital detox into a community experience. Plus you may get a free meal out of it!
How do you manage your relationship with your phone? —Elysha