If you had to ballpark it… how much time do you think you spend on your phone every day? Half an hour? 90 minutes?
Turns out – the average person is spending closer to 4 hours a day on their device! And on average, about 2 of those hours are spent mindlessly scrolling through social media.
On its own, that statistic isn’t very startling. But if you add it up, that means we are spending more than 720 hours a year just checking our socials… or over 90 working days a year – a staggering 4.5 months of productivity.
The first time I read that statistic I nearly threw my phone into a volcano – how terrifying!
It’s no secret that we’re pretty dependent on technology. Our devices have become like extra limbs to us! But the real issue is what we’re doing while we’re on those devices.
So why exactly does being addicted to our technology pose an issue? Let’s break down some of the main problems our devices can pose for us:
They’re a time suck
Have you ever had a lull in your day, thought to yourself “let me just check my notifications,” and come to three hours later having watched 8 YouTube videos, scrolled through Instagram’s Explore page, and ordered a few things on Amazon?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Our phones are designed to suck us in. Everything about them – from their shape to the shade of red of a notification badge – has been designed to keep us hooked.
They’re SO distracting
From social media, to Netflix, to the constant barrage of news articles… It feels like the distractions are limitless!
But as we’ve talked about before – multitasking does not exist. Even the most minute of distractions – like checking your email before a meeting – can derail you for hours! It can take up to 23 minutes to get back on track, regardless of the size of the distraction.
For a lot of people, scrolling through Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites invokes some negative feelings.
As you browse your feed, you see a curated look into the lives of everyone you know – and it appears as though everyone is happier, more interesting, and has a more exciting life than you. As humans, we naturally compare ourselves to those we see around us. So if you’re spending hours scrolling through your socials and everyone you’re seeing appears to have a glamorous, fulfilling life… You’re bound to feel snubbed.
The fast-paced world we live in just keeps getting faster – and we feel an instinctual need to keep up. We’re overwhelmed by it! And for many of us, that means we’re scrolling through our phones late into the night – disrupting our sleeping patterns. And to top that off, the blue light our phone screens emit tricks our brain into an alert state – making it harder for us to fall asleep.
“Digital Dementia” – a breakdown in cognitive abilities that comes as a result of the overuse of digital technology – has the ability to turn us into grumpy old folks!
Here are some of the tell-tale symptoms of dementia:
- Memory loss or issues with short term memory
- Increased confusion, decreased concentration
- Behavioral changes – anger, impatience, apathy, depression, etc.
- Everyday tasks feeling harder or insurmountable
Do any of these sound familiar? Turns out, Digital Dementia has a lot of the same symptoms.
Time to Detox
So how do we shake our digital dependency? The same way we reset our bodies after a particularly fun night out – with a detox!
We here at the Lifehack Method definitely did not come up with the idea of a Digital Detox. In fact, we were directly inspired by Cal Newport and his book Digital Minimalism.
In his book, Cal stresses that it is impossible to completely detach yourself from technology. But he advocates for a more intentional, minimalist approach to your digital consumption.
We recommend doing a 30-day detox period. During those 30 days, you are to remove ALL non-essential technologies from your life.
“Non-essential” is going to look a little different for everyone, but there are some clear no-no’s that everyone must abide by – like checking your email on the toilet or scrolling through Instagram before bed. We recommend making an exhaustive list of all of the tech you interface with on a regular basis, and creating “approved” and “non-approved” columns.
What’s most important is intentionality. Keep the tech in your life that feeds you somehow. Whether that be checking Facebook Groups that you positively engage with, having a Netflix date night, watching YouTube videos that can teach you something – you get the picture!
I did a 30-day digital detox and documented my whole journey – click here to check it out!
The DO’s of Detoxing
- Re-engineer your space. Be proactive in removing as many distractions as you can.
- Get more sleep. It’s normal to find yourself getting tired earlier for the first week or two. If you’re tired at 8pm, embrace it. Take this as a chance to catch upon your sleep. It will pass.
- Cultivate a hobby. You’ll be surprised how much you throw yourself into a hobby to avoid boredom. (I designed my entire house in 60 days!)
- Plan more social events. You might feel like you don’t have the energy now… believe me – you will when you detox! There’s nothing more fulfilling than being around other people.
- Look for ways to change your state without technology. Baths, hot tubs, running, cold shower (my favorite!)… The possibilities are endless.
- Get some accountability. Even if it’s just a post on your social media! Your Facebook audience will love this – believe me.
The DON’TS of Detoxes
- Filling your newly-found free-time with more work. You will be tempted… anticipate and avoid this common pitfall. This can prevent you from realizing all the benefits of a digital detox!
- Entering a Digital Detox without a plan. You can’t just hope for the best! It won’t work. Preparation wins the battle every time.
- Expecting anyone else to do it with you. Accept that your spouse, family, friends are not going to do this with you. Don’t try to convince them.
- Getting mad that everyone else is still in the digital world. Focus on the positive effects it’s having on you, instead!
The Drawbacks of a Detox… And Why They Don’t Matter
Let’s just say it: a digital detox won’t be as bad as you fear – but there will be some bad moments.
It’s going to force you to get BORED. And I mean really bored.
What do you currently do when you get bored? Scroll through your phone? Flip through the channels on your tv? Check your email?
Forcing yourself to deal with boredom is like living life without anesthesia. Choosing digital minimalism is foregoing that anesthesia! Which can be tough. Digital distraction takes the edge off of life. It gives us the semblance of everything we want without the substance: we feel connected without the obligations of community; we feel knowledgeable without having to work for it; We feel entertained without being provoked.
Living more intentionally isn’t an easy transition to make – but it is so much more rewarding.
About halfway through your 30-day detox, you’ll start to feel a shift. Things that weren’t working for you before will start to fall into place. You’ll feel more rested, clear-headed, motivated and present. Your productivity is going to increase exponentially. Your relationships will deepen.
This is what I call “the bloom.” All of the parts of your life that weren’t getting enough nourishment seem to come back to life.