If you’ve been following my YouTube Channel, you know that I recently did a 10-day “digital detox”, in which I got the chance to unplug and get off social media and email for 10 days. I’ve been very pleased to see the feedback from some of you who have been inspired by this!
I’ve received many questions about my digital detox, but one that I thought was most important, and will be the subject of this article, was the question of how you can do a digital detox yourself? How to know if it’s right for you? And how to make it work if your job is very tech-focused?
In this article, I’m going to answer this question, and help you structure the best digital detox for you! But first, here’s a little background info on my own digital detox:
My Digital Detox
My digital detox was actually set in motion a couple years ago. It started when I decided to do a vow of silence. As a confession, I tend to be an interrupter! I get so scared of an awkward silence that I tend to fill it with my words.
So, for a couple years in a row, I did a vow of silence. I decided the only way to cure my tendency to fill these silences was to be completely silent myself.
However, now that I’m a mom, it made taking a vow of silence a bit unrealistic! So I thought the next best thing was a digital detox. I found that I was filling my own silences with social media and email, and it was something I wanted to kick!
This was the right detox for me, but is it the right one for you? Here’s how you can find out:
How to know if a digital detox is right for you?
Step 1: What do you want to detox from?
The first important step in knowing how to structure a digital detox is to know which platforms you actually want to detox from!
For me, I noticed I was getting into a horrible habit of whenever I had a free second I would check one of my various social media channels, and it was filling up all my free space. Space that should have been for creativity, or for brainstorming, or for any number of productive tasks, was instead filled with checking these apps.
So, the first thing I want you to think of is what fills up your time like this? What are you hooked to that could be time better spent being productive?
If you are feeling that there is something you spend too much mindless time on, you need to identify it, and that’s what you might want to detox from. Find the thing in your life that you are using to fill your empty space, monitor your day and see where you turn without even thinking. Maybe it’s not even your smartphone at all. Focus your attention on where you think you could start to be more productive.
Step 2: Fill the Void
The biggest problem that people have with detoxing is that they try to cut something out with nothing to replace it with. It’s like if you cut out junk food but don’t replace it with healthy food. This gives you a productive alternative to the behavior you are trying to curb, and makes the detox so much more manageable.
So the important step for me was to find something to replace my social media fixes with. I decided to fill my empty time with family time, deep conversation time, or brain-storming time. I went all the way to Alaska and spent time in the wilderness with my family.
Step 3: Commit Loudly
It’s hard to do a detox, and chances are, if you’re an active social media participant, your friends are going to wonder where you went. You don’t want to leave them hanging, so I recommend you make an announcement. Announce how long you are going to detox, what you are wanting to cut out, and what your goal is.
Not only does this keep everyone in the loop, it can actually help hold you accountable. After all, if everyone knows you’re doing it, you wouldn’t want to let them down as well as yourself.
These are my steps to a digital detox, and as you can see, it really is going to depend on your circumstances and the type of behavior you want to improve. So consider the above steps, and decide the course of action that is best to kick your bad habits, and whether it is a reliance on a screen, or something else entirely.
What If My Job Makes a Detox Tough?
Finally, a question that might be relevant to a lot of people, the issue of real life. If you have a job that simply requires the use of social media, digital devices, and email, the idea of a digital detox can seem a lot less realistic. So how do you do this if you have a technology focused job?
Firstly, you could consider doing it during vacation or even start on a weekend. Unplugging from technology could make your time off even better. Take your time off from work to rid yourself of that anxiety.
Or maybe consider limiting certain social media platforms which still allow you to do your job. Let’s face it, chances are most of the time when you are mindlessly scrolling social media on your devices, it’s not for your job anyways. There’s probably a certain app or social media that you go to purely out of boredom, so maybe that one is your target.
Finally, I definitely recommend getting buy in from your boss. Talk to your manager, let them know about your plan to break your habits, and ask them if they’d be okay with you taking a break from a certain platform for a short period. Chances are, there’s other ways to reach you, and they could be very willing to participate in your detox.
Remember, a detox is not just about cutting out a habit. It’s about filling the space with something new. When I did my detox, I was very happy with what filled that space. I had new, creative ideas, I was inspired constantly, and I was more connected with my family.
But remember, this is about your detox. Social media and email were the things that I needed to detox from. So take some time to analyze what you use to fill that empty space, and then think about what you’d rather fill it with. Commit to it and go all in. If you are like me, you will find that the detox rewards you with increased mindfulness, better relationships with those around you, and inspiration that you didn’t know you had.