In a prior article, we talked about the benefits of cutting off technology, among them greater emotional confidence, better memory, and even stronger physical health. Now, while these all are amazing positives that can come out of unplugging from technology, I’m not saying that you have to completely quit electronics. That may be extremely difficult, especially in this work-from-home environment. But, there are definitely small things you can do to detach from technology every once in a while. So, we at Wing decided to list out 9 tips on how to unplug from technology.
These tips range from one-time endeavors to small actions you can take every day. They’re designed mainly to help you either gain more awareness of your technological dependence or take steps to decreasing your actual use of electronics. For the most part, your phone is the worst offender, so many of these tips focus on cutting mobile time.
- Go on a day-long digital detox
- Turn off your notifications
- Make your bedtime routine phone-less
- Keep your phone out of your room in the morning
- Use applications to block your bad habits
- Leave your phone at home for a day
- Exercise (Mental or Physical) without electronics
- Go on a retreat without electronics
1. Go on a day-long digital detox
We’ll start off with one of the tougher options, just to get it out of the way.
The first suggestion I have for anyone trying to unplug is to cannonball into the deep end. This may be an extremely scary prospect, but going on a day long digital detox is one amazing way of cutting down your electronic use.
What I mean by a day-long digital detox is exactly that: go a complete day without using technology of any kind. This means no phones, no laptops, and even no alarm clocks. Cars are okay, but only to get to a place and back. Evidently, these days would most likely take place on a weekend, when there’s no need for work calls or email.
So, what should you do without all of your electronics? Anything else! Go on a hike, stay in with your family, go camping with some friends who want to go through this journey with you. The initial emptiness you feel without technology can easily be filled up with other actions.
This may sound incredibly daunting, and it definitely isn’t the easiest action on this list of how to unplug from technology. However, completely detaching yourself is one of the most effective forms of unplugging if you’re brave enough for it.
What does a day of digital detox do for you?
Obviously, you’ll be able to spend a whole 24 hours without dealing with the stress and anxiety brought by being around technology. But the long-term benefit of a day without electronics is the clarity it’ll bring to your life. After you’re off technology, you begin to recognize all the detriments that it could bring to your life.
While you may still need your laptop and phone in order to tackle modern responsibilities, a digital detox proves that you don’t need constant electronic interfacing to live, which will last with you for quite a while.
I always say that a day-long detox is necessary for people to go through, but I understand that it might be extremely difficult to jump in headfirst. Before you tackle this 24-hour challenge, there are some other, smaller actions you can take to unplug from technology.
2. Turn off your notifications
Instead of completely turning off all electronics, you can take baby steps by turning off your notifications. In a perfect world, this would mean mobile and computer notifications, even emails or calendar reminders.
This method tackles one of the key detriments that technology brings to us: the sense of anxiety. This typically arises from the constant expectation of notifications arriving, which causes our minds to be slightly preoccupied with the fact that, at any moment, your phone may buzz.
Eliminating this will do wonders for your concentration and peace of mind. This also wouldn’t be as drastic as completely eliminating all electronics, but will still allow you to take a break from technology.
Obviously, I understand that turning off notifications can have dire consequences. You may miss an important work email, or even an emergency text from your significant other. One way of avoiding this problem is to do something similar to my earlier suggestion: only implement this tip on weekends. There is an extremely low chance of weekend notifications actually having any urgent significance. It would be a safe way of slowing down your technologically-engendered anxiety, even if it’s only for two days of the week.
3. Turn off your phone way before bedtime
One more routine way of unplugging is to set up a “phone bedtime”. A “phone bedtime” is a moment when you turn off your phone for good at night. This is usually best done way before you actually go to bed.
This is a great way of limiting your phone use overall. It is also a great way to provide yourself a healthier sleep schedule and consequently greater clarity throughout the day. One of the greatest detriments of constant technology use is exhaustion and a loss in sleep. These side effects of phone use before bed is mainly because the technological blue light causes our bodies to stay awake artificially. Not only does this cause us to stay up later, this also means that we’re too alert to sleep soundly. Ultimately, this harms our own circadian rhythm for the rest of our days.
So, how long before bed should you stop using your phone? Studies show that cutting off your technology use at least 30 minutes beforehand for a healthier and more comfortable sleep. You can spend your offline time performing healthier routines to prepare for sleep.
In the meantime, you can keep your phone far away from you. This can be either on the other side of the room, or even outside of the room.
4. Keep your phone off-hand in the morning
On the flip side of not using your phone before bed, another way to unplug is to keep your phone out of reach in the morning. This has similar benefits to cutting off technological use before bed. Among these include more alertness, less anxiety, and better sleep.
If you think about it, having a phone by your side in bed can cause a lot of issues. If, every time you wake up at night you check your phone, you can find yourself too alert to fall back to sleep comfortably. Additionally, if you wake up immediately with your phone at your side and all the messages that entails, you may feel immediately inundated with the urgent connections to the outside world. There’s no time to yourself in the mornings, which is completely mentally unhealthy.
So, instead of keeping your phone at your side when you wake up, try and put it in another room before you even go to sleep! Invest in a real, physical alarm clock that you would actually need to turn off. Then, spend time creating a morning routine. The more you live your morning offline, the more amazing you’ll feel for the rest of the day.
5. Use built-in applications to block your bad habits
Next up on our list of how to unplug from technology takes a bit of a turn. Instead of choosing a specific time to stop using electronics, you could potentially use apps that help you control your time online.
Now, this could certainly mean using Chrome extensions to avoid distracting websites. It could also mean using phone apps to set time limits on distracting apps. Ultimately, you’re using the wonders of technology to stop yourself from using more technology.
One way you can do this is to go to your phone and download apps that keep you off distracting websites. Some possibilities include Freedom for iOS or Appblock for Androids. For the iPhone, especially, you have the ability now to set time limits on certain apps like Facebook or LinkedIn. However, these are usually pretty easily bypassed. Take these with a grain of salt.
Another way you can to unplug from technology is by using apps or extensions to keep track of your time. Once you start to see exactly what you waste time on throughout the day, you can begin to slowly unplug yourself from the virtual activities that you may not necessarily need to invest time in. I go more in depth about possible extensions you can use to keep track of time in this article.
6. Leave your phone at home for a day
Out of all the ways for how to unplug from technology, this tip will be one of the most useful workday-specific ones. While going on a digital detox or turning off your notifications might be trouble when you have a job to do, one way you can pursue unplugging on a workday is to simply leave your phone behind at home for a day.
Obviously, this is a little more possible when you’re not working from home. If you refuse to bring your phone along to a on-site job, you can eliminate a lot of the negative aspects of a piece of technology while still using technology for important, work-related responsibilities.
The reason this can be so effective is because our phone is one of the strongest negative drivers of technology. Many of the actions we perform with it is completely wasteful in terms of productivity, especially at a job where we have our computers to tackle any legitimately impactful work. Without your phone at work, you can still send emails, do research, and work on deliverables. With your phone at work, you may find yourself texting a friend, watching a show that’s blocked on your company wifi, or scrolling through social media. It may be eye-opening to leave it behind entirely.
Obviously, this is going to be a bit more difficult while working from home— you can’t exactly take your phone out of the house. But, keeping this in mind during work hours, even while you’re in your own room, can be beneficial. And definitely try it once you get back into the real workplace.
7. Exercise Mentally or Physically without Electronics
Another option for how to unplug from technology is to exercise! These exercises could be physical, such as going to the gym or going on a run. They can also be mental exercises, such as reading or solving on-paper brain teasers.
One of the greatest downsides of technology is its negative impact on our physical and mental health. We’ve become especially dependent on our phones both mentally and physically. People rely on their phones nowadays for mental stimulation, and this can be pretty injurious because it causes simple activities like reading a paper book to not seem fun enough by comparison. Additionally, many of us find it difficult to go on a run nowadays without listening to some kind of music through our phones. Consequently, this reliance on technology for mental and physical stimulation can be extremely harmful to our overall health.
Thus, one way to begin rolling back these effects is to focus on rebuilding offline exercises. This would mean engaging in forms of non-electronically facilitated exercise.
Once you start taking time out of the day to read or to go on runs phone-free, you begin to recognize how to achieve a healthier mind and body without the screen.
Another example of what you could do is cook! Spending time cooking can be a physically and mentally fulfilling task, and it can provide some positive benefits to psyche as well.
8. Go on a full-on retreat
I’ve saved the most drastic (but most relaxing) option for last. While I definitely started off with a pretty intense suggestion— completely cutting off technology for a day— there is an even crazier way of implementing it.
Go on a weekend detox, or take a paid vacation leave and leave your electronics behind! You and your family can go to a nearby AirBnb for a staycation, or you can book a dedicated spot meant to help you unplug. Either way, the most important part of this trip is to pack absolutely no electronics.
Going on a retreat will be an eye-opening experience for people for the same reasons as going on a digital detox day, just multiplied. After living multiple days without electronics and preferably in an area with natural beauty, you can begin to recognize how much you relied on technology previously. A digital detox retreat would really be a great way of resetting your dependence on electronics. It’ll provide the ultimate benefit in terms of how to unplug from technology.
Of course, this suggestion is a little more expensive, both in terms of time and money. Take this tip at your own risk— but don’t forget about this possibility when you have a chance.
Takeaways: How to Unplug from Technology?
As this article suggests, there are many, many ways you can begin your journey of lessening your technological dependence. Of course, I intended some of these to be much more easier to implement than others. You might be somebody who isn’t able to jump into the deep end of a digital detox. In that case, starting off with one of the more actionable tips would be ideal.