It’s easy to disconnect when you’re on holiday, but how can we manage our technology in regular life — during a normal working week — so we’re not slaves to our phones?
There’s nothing like a few weeks with no mobile signal to make you realise how much time you’re losing to your phone.
When I got back from holidays last month, I got totally slammed with digital overload. I constantly checked my phone for messages and emails, and replied faster than a first responder emergency team.
It sucked. I wanted my empty time back. All that gazing at the scenery and reading of actual books. That ability to just sit and let my mind wander. The feeling of superiority to all the screen junkies on the train.
After some serious googling, and a self-imposed digital detox, I’m happy to report it’s possible to wrest control back from your phone, and it doesn’t hurt much at all.
Going cold turkey
My plan was to go cold turkey with my phone for a week, and then reintroduce the bits I could handle one by one.
It was during a regular working week, so I could do all the usual stuff at work, but outside I couldn’t do anything that required wifi or data. It was like being back in the ’90s with my old Nokia and no laptop.
No iview. No googling at the drop of a hat. No photos. And every time I went to check my phone, I had to take a screenshot instead so I’d know how bad my habit was. (This was the best idea ever. I’m stupidly competitive, and I love a bit of data, so on that first day seeing the time between checks get longer and longer was the kind of instant reward that kept me going).
I lasted two days. And I cheated a bit.
But those two days were actually enough to kick-start the break. They showed me some easy wins I could make to claw back some of that highly sought empty-mind time.