Is it time for you to take a ‘tech break’?
In Britain most of us spend in excess of 24 hours a week online, and a significant proportion find it difficult to disconnect on a regular basis.
We check our phones 200 times a day on average, and one in four Britons spend more time online than they do asleep, according to a recent study from Ofcom.
We feel guilty that we’re constantly plugged in. We sense that our smartphones are making us less focused, that constantly checking our email and Twitter is making us less productive, and more disconnected from our real lives.
Every new notification or text triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that drives us to seek rewards, so you keep coming back for more. Multitasking seems attractive to the brain but attempting it leaves us with diminished cognitive ability.
When we multitask we may feel as though we’re getting a lot done, however research has suggested our productivity levels actually decrease. Switching between different tasks leaves us less productive and with increased mental fatigue, simply because our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time.
So what can we do to stop ourselves from reaching for the tech?
Tips on taking a digital detox:
- Google Is A Conversation Killer
In a connected world, when a general trivia question comes up, people immediately Google the answer, ending that particular line of questioning. However, without Google, people keep talking as they look for an answer, which often results in creative storytelling or hilarious guessing games. It enables you to gain insight into the way someone’s mind works, and it is not typically a conversation anyone has had before, so it is engaging and memorable.
- Try ‘phone stacking’ in a meeting or at a family meal. Everyone puts their device in the middle of the table so you can focus on the conversation.
- Keep tech out of the bedroom
Light from screens stops production of the hormone melatonin, which is vital for getting to sleep, so leave them to charge in a different room when you go to bed.
- Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock
Switch to a real alarm clock, and when it buzzes, give yourself 10 to 20 minutes, or even an hour, to ignore your devices as you prep for the day. You’ll be able to start your day on your own terms!
- Keep your phone out of sight and reach when you’re driving. Even hands-free phone systems slow reaction times as people don’t concentrate on the road.
- Don’t eat at your desk. Go outside at lunchtime instead. Not only does it get you away from your screen, it stops you from sitting down too long.
- Gradually power off for the day
Just as you wouldn’t run a marathon before running a mile, you need to ease yourself into taking breaks from the digital world. Take it step by step,begin by putting your phone down for 15 minutes without looking at it one day. The next day, break away from technology for 30 minutes gradually increasing the time away from technology each day. Eventually designate one day a week to stay away from one social media platform completely—e.g. Twitter-free Tuesdays. When you feel ready to take the full-day plunge, a weekend day is a good choice since work pressures tend to let up. Sundays are typically intended for rest and relaxation. Place your phone in a drawer and spend the day connecting interpersonally—not electronically—with family and friends.