Digital detox tips

Living the life of a full-time writer, glued to my screen for at least 8 hours a day, has taught me a thing or two about the digital age. We’re constantly connected, with tech deeply woven into the fabric of our daily routines. But I’ve felt firsthand the strain this constant connectivity can put on our mental and physical health. That’s precisely why I’ve turned to digital detox tips – not just as experiments, but as necessary rituals to regain balance and well-being. Sharing these tips isn’t just about offering advice; it’s about sharing a lifeline that’s helped me find my footing in a world where offline moments are rare.

No need to panic—I’m not here to tell you to give up your phone for a month. Let’s be real, advice that pushes you to quit your phone cold turkey usually isn’t practical. It sets most folks up for failure, leaving them feeling let down and reverting right back to their old phone habits. Instead, I’m all about introducing changes that you can easily slip into your everyday life, making them doable for most of us.

By picking up just a few of these digital detox tips, you might notice a big boost in your overall well-being and mental health. Just remember, like any habit, it gets easier with practice!

Ready to dive in?

16 digital detox tips to spend less time online 📴

What exactly can you do to limit the time you spend online? I propose 16 tips that you should try for yourself:

  1. Take breaks away from screens
  2. Go out after work
  3. Mute notifications
  4. Spend more time in nature
  5. Train the feeling of urgency
  6. Consume information mindfully
  7. Read a book during dead times
  8. Do not go online when you wake up
  9. Engage in physical activities often
  10. Only use the phone with a purpose
  11. Make a schedule and seize the day
  12. Keep your phone out of reach
  13. Delete unnecessary phone apps
  14. Take a digital sabbatical
  15. Set internet-free hours and spaces
  16. Clean up social media feeds

1. Take work breaks away from screens

take work breaks away from screens - digital detox tips

If you’re working full-time from your computer, try not to spend your breaks watching videos or scrolling on your phone because it will make you feel more tired. Stand up, move, and do something that doesn’t imply staring at screens. For example: go for a short walk, do a quick workout, wash your mug, make a cup of tea, look out the window, etc.

All these fresh breaks add up and energize you for when you’re back at the computer. You also give your eyes time to rest, which will take away the feeling of tiredness at the end of your workday. Looking at screens for hours can cause eye strain, but you can keep it under control by following the 20-20-20 rule (look away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes of looking at a screen) [1].

When you take a break but still put your brain at work reading news or checking social media, you only fill your memory with probably useless information that will affect your efficiency in what actually matters to you.

2. Go out after work

If you didn’t manage to go out for a break during your work schedule, make sure you do it afterward, even for 15 minutes. You need to disconnect from a full day in front of a screen and relax a bit even when you don’t have specific plans that entail leaving home. You don’t need a reason to go outside, actually spending time away from a screen makes for a good enough reason.

3. Mute notifications – you probably do not need them

mute notifications - digital detox tips

Out of all the apps that are active on your phone, how many are truly essential? Social media apps fall under the unessential category because nothing urgent ever happens on social media. If someone wants to communicate something important to you, they won’t do it via Facebook or Instagram.

The information you are getting when a notification pops up on your screen is not worth your time at any hour or moment when you’re supposed to take care of your health and mental wellness. You can set a specific time a day when you can check private messages, newsletters, magazines, and whatever else you keep active on your phone.

If you deactivate the notifications of all the unimportant apps, you will be checking your phone less and enjoying your non-digital time more.

4. Spend more time in nature

spend time in nature - digital detox tips

If you ask me, nature cures it all. No matter how tired you feel when you leave home, a day in nature (or even a few hours) will relieve you from any stress and anxiety that you accumulate throughout the week.

Engage in nature activities like hiking, biking, walking, camping, or playing adventure games with friends, so that you will lose track of time and won’t feel the urge to check your phone every five minutes.

If you go on an adventure, you might lose internet connection for a good period of time, which is an even greater reason to go out in the wild. It teaches you that you can live without texting or liking pictures on Instagram and you are not missing anything out actually.

5. Train the fear of missing out and the feeling of urgency

We all have this problem. When we hear the sound of a text or notification, we can’t resist and want to see what it is about, interrupting whatever we were doing at that time. Most of the notifications are not urgent, like a friend sharing a video or someone reacting to one of your posts. A very small percentage actually requires an answer or attention on the spot and, most of the time, you can anticipate those messages.

So does it make a difference if you watched the video the next minute or in a few hours? Does it impact your life? Not really. Train yourself to understand that most of what happens online is probably not urgent, nor interesting enough for an instant check. You know what’s important to you and you should respect that by first doing what makes you happy and healthy, and only then respond to other people’s needs.

6. Consume digital information mindfully, not passively

Consuming digital information mindfully means that you go to it and not vice-versa. When you keep all the notifications active and all the apps at hand, you are always tempted to check them which can suck you into passive scrolling and checking. Don’t let them get to you because you should be the one who intentionally goes to them every once in a while.

Since none of this is urgent, you can schedule an hour or two per day or every two days to read what’s new in the world. Instead of allowing media to consume you, you consume it when you are in the mood for it. You are supposed to eat when you are hungry, not every ten minutes.

7. Read a book during dead times

Digital detox with a good book

We can’t create the perfect schedule, sometimes we need to wait between two activities. That again sounds like the perfect moment to take the phone out of your pocket and start scrolling through the never-ending feed of useless posts and updates.

But why don’t you do something more productive and educational instead? Bring a book with you everywhere you go to fill the dead times. You will be able to escape this speed of things and agitation that are surrounding us on all sides. Using the Internet feeds this feeling of urgency, whereas books do the opposite.

8. Do not begin and end your day checking the phone

One of the habits most people have is to look at their phone the first minute after they wake up when the brain is not able to process information yet. In fact, our brain needs around 30 minutes to wake up from the sleep inertia and we only reach full recovery in one to two hours after getting out of bed [2].

The same happens before going to bed. Your brain needs time away from screens to delve into the sleeping mode because the blue light affects our sleeping behavior [3]. That’s why we are complaining that we can’t fall asleep early. Scrolling on the phone or laptop and then immediately going to bed will keep us awake longer, which will affect our sleep hours and daily schedule. That contributes to our overall tiredness, too.

9. Engage in physical activities often

Sports not only keep you away from screens but also make you feel better both physically and mentally. The endorphins your body releases during physical activity relieve stress, anxiety, and pain – hence improve your lifestyle and health. Working out outdoors makes an ever better combination for your body and brain.

10. Only use the phone with purpose, not to kill time

There’s nothing bad about being online or connected to the internet world. On the contrary. The problem appears when we start doing this uncontrollably and involuntarily. Especially when we are bored, we reach for our phones and start scrolling for no particular reason.

The even bigger problem is that, eventually, this turns into a habit and we start repeating it even when we are engaged in other activities, such as working, attending a meeting, hanging out with friends, taking a walk, etc. That is the toxic part; we stay online when we do not have a reason to do that. According to BankMyCell, 86% of smartphone users check their phones while they are in a conversation with friends or family [4].

So, whenever you find yourself reaching for your pocket, ask yourself “Do I need any critical information right now?“, “Does this message require an instant answer?“, “Is it mandatory to read the contents of this notification now?“. If the answer is no, then you can put your phone away and enjoy what you were doing.

11. Make a schedule and live in the moment

make a schedule

The best way to handle digital addiction is to make a schedule and stick with it. It takes time to form habits but once you get there, it gets easier to cope with urgency and fear of missing out.

When you create a schedule, make sure to prioritize all the things that are important to you (that keep you healthy and happy). The rest are secondary. Spending time online (be it social media, video streaming, news sites, email, etc.) should only come into play to fill out the gaps after you took care of your priority list first.

Your priority list can contain family time, workouts, fun with friends, board games, walking outside, reading – just make sure you won’t stay online during these activities that you care about.

After you’re done with the priorities, you can allow yourself to reply to the Facebook messages, check your inbox, see the latest news, read notifications, and so on.

The key here is to keep your phone away while you’re engaging in something that matters to you or contributes to your health and wellness. When you are present in a moment from the beginning to the end, you feel more fulfilled and are able to get more stuff done in a day.

When you are doing more things at a time, it feels like you don’t really complete anything, which leaves you with a feeling of unproductivity and time waste.

12. Keep your phone out of reach or on airplane mode

A method to train yourself to not check your phone every few minutes is to not take it with you everywhere you go. If you are cooking in the kitchen, having coffee with your family, walking in the park, or relaxing on the balcony, don’t take your phone or laptop with you. Leave it in another room or at home when you’re doing something that doesn’t require its presence.

If you want to fully eliminate temptation, set your phone on airplane mode, “do not disturb”, or simply turn it off. You’ll see that you can live without it and enjoy what you’re doing more.

13. Delete unnecessary apps

delete phone apps - digital detox tips

Did you know that, on average, a smartphone user checks the phone 63 times a day [5]? When you don’t have much content and distractions on your phone, you will reduce the time that you spend on it because there’s nothing there that could catch your attention. You can make an inventory of your apps and see how many are actually useful to you.

If you have too many apps on your phone, split them into “Important” and “Not important”, then uninstall those with the “unimportant” label and only keep the apps that are truly useful.

So, when your phone only contains apps that are practical (not fun, cool, or miscellaneous), you will only use them when you have a real need and you won’t interrupt your daily life too often for superfluous content.

14. Take a digital sabbatical

This is one of the next-level digital detox tips because it requires a lot of motivation to put into practice. A digital sabbatical is when you completely give up the internet for a longer period of time. Some people take 24 hours of digital sabbatical, others aim for a few days, while some people isolate themselves somewhere in the wilderness for a week or more, where there’s no connection or phone signal.

When you disconnect from the world for a while, you learn that you didn’t miss out much while you were gone. You learn that everything in this world can wait and things follow their course even if you’re not replying to a Facebook message in minutes.

These digital sabbaticals are the proof that fear of missing out, feeling of urgency, and the speed that accelerates our actions are just unconscious habits that we built during the years, which we can eliminate with a little training and determination.

15. Set internet-free hours and spaces

set internet free hours and spaces - digital detox tips

If strict conditions work better for you, you can start creating rules for yourself. Set a goal of how many hours you want to spend offline per week and complete the challenge. You know that you must stay offline for four hours this week and try to achieve that by creating a specific schedule with reminders and offline activities to do during those hours.

Along the same lines, you can also make a rule out of a physical location. For instance, set your mind to never use your phone when you’re relaxing on the balcony or in the bedroom. You can add a “Forbidden” mental label to it to remember that phones and laptops are not allowed in those particular spaces.

16. Clean up your social media feeds

Last on our list and another way of limiting online time is to clean up your social media feeds. This means unfollowing accounts and pages that do not bring any value to your life. On the contrary, they make you stay online until you finish scrolling through all of the pointless updates. Of course, not using social media at all would be ideal, but changing the way you consume it on a daily basis might be a good start.

Following just a small number of pages/people that you are really interested in and removing the rest from all your social feeds will not only save you time but will also make you feel better about yourself at the end of the day. That’s because you can turn the extra time into quality time.

Start small and keep going

And there you have it—16 digital detox tips to help you navigate the digital world without losing your grip on real life.

Implementing even a few of these strategies can make a big difference in how you interact with technology, leading to improved mental health and a better sense of balance. Remember, the goal isn’t to eliminate technology from your life but to find a healthier way to coexist with it.

Just like any habit, everything becomes easier with repetition. So, start small, be consistent, and watch how these changes can positively impact your life. Here’s to reclaiming your time and mental space, one digital detox tip at a time.

Happy detoxing!

Which digital detox tips work great for you? Feel free to share your tips for staying away from screens in the comments below. 😀

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