Digital Detox

5 Steps To Reducing The Noise And Setting Healthy Boundaries

“We are living in a world full of distractions.” — Kate Knowler

Does life with your smartphone stress you out?

Do you feel torn in too many directions?

Email, social media, texts, calls, Facetime, Skype, it never ends…

Can you picture your pocket without a smartphone in it? Can you imagine a life that’s not constantly jacked into your email and online social life? If that sounds like bliss, you’re in luck. Here are my five simple strategies for a complete digital detox…

#1 Reduce the Noise

Let’s start by taking a long hard look at your inbox. Ditch all the newsletters you never read. Create a new folder named UNSUBSCRIBE. Take a week to screen every newsletter entering your inbox. If you’re no longer interested in the sender’s content pop it in your new folder.

At the end of the week, spend a satisfying 30 minutes unsubscribing from all those unwanted newsletters.

Now, turn your attention to social media. How many companies, shops, organisations, charities, and celebrities are you following that no longer interest you, or never interested you?

Give yourself permission to unlike/unfollow any social media profiles you’ve outgrown, and aren’t genuinely interested in.

Your newsfeed will instantly become less cluttered with information you have no interest in.

Finally, do you really need your phone to beep and flash every time someone comments on your latest Instagram photo? Switch off all your notifications — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, email, everything.

If you people need you, let them call you!

Check in with your online life on your own schedule, don’t be ruled by the beep!

#2 Set Healthy Boundaries

What’s the first thing you do in the morning, and the last thing you do before you go to sleep at night?

I’ll lay odds it’s checking your phone for emails.

Pressure from work can make you check your email at all hours of the day and night. Setting designated work hours means ignoring your email during off hours. It’s vitally important you set designated times for work, and ignore everything work-related outside those hours.

Is the world really going to end if you read that email tomorrow morning?

Your non-working hours are for home, family, friends, hobbies, good meals, relaxation, and self-care. These are all essential elements of your life, for your own health and happiness, but also for your business.

Your professional life is only as healthy as you are; looking after yourself is ensuring you’re ever the professional.

Start by setting the time you will begin and end work each day. This is especially important if you work from home and don’t have set office hours. Next, set your lunch break. Now, train people to follow them…

Make sure your boss, colleagues, or clients are aware of your work hours, and designated times for checking email, then ensure you never work outside those hours. Set up an out of office notification to automatically reply to emails coming in during off hours, so late night emailers know they won’t get an immediate reply. Pretty soon people will stop expecting you to be available 24/7, and you’ll finally be able to spend peaceful evenings completely switched off from work.

#3 Spend Time Offline

Don’t spend your lunch breaks sitting at your desk, surfing the internet. Switch off your phone, step away from your desk, and enjoy lunch in peace. Sit in a nice spot outside and eat it in the sunshine (weather permitting). Head for a nice café, take your time to eat, and relish every bite. Walk around the block, or take a stroll in the park and stretch your legs. If you absolutely must have your phone with you, put it to good use — try a mindfulness app like Buddhify to truly appreciate the moment.

In the evenings, switch off your phone.

Take a weekend away and leave your work phone and anything work-related at home. No business books to read while you’re gone, no course material to go over, or jobs to look at.

Weekends away mean weekends away from work. You’re incommunicado.

#4 Are You Ready To…Give Up Your Smartphone?

If you’ve turned off all your notifications, only have relevant emails entering your inbox, and are only following enjoyable profiles on social media, your life will already feel a lot calmer. If you’ve agreed set working hours (either with yourself or your boss), and are spending your downtime offline to fully appreciate real life, you’ve already taken massive steps towards digitally detoxing your life.

Are you ready to take it to the next level?

It’s time to ditch your expensive, heavy smartphone and switch to a dumbphone.

You’re not checking your emails outside work hours, so why do you need the internet? You’ve turned off all your notifications and you’re only going on social media at set times of your choosing, you can do that on your laptop or iPad. A dumbphone does the only thing a phone actually has to do: phones people and lets them call you. As an added bonus, you can still text — remember when you lived and died by the text message rather than the Twitter feed?

The world was so much calmer then, you actually saw your friends more often. Which brings me to the final step…

#5 Be Your Friends’ Newsfeed

This is your chance to spend time being your friend’s newsfeed, rather than constantly watching it. When we know what are friends are doing every second of the day, there’s little incentive to meet up for a chat. How many times have you started telling a story, only to have your friend interrupt, “Yeah, I saw that on Facebook.”

Conversation killer!

It’s time to stop watching your friends lives and start actively taking in part in them again.

Why look at their selfies when you can be up that mountain with them? At that restaurant, in that club, on that beach, riding that rollercoaster?

The digital age brought great improvement, but it also blinded us to the beauty of life, and living in the real world.

Loneliness seems like a thing of the past when you have hundreds of friends at your fingertips, but it creeps up on you.

One day you realise it’s just you, the cat and your phone; you haven’t spoken to a human in the flesh for days.

That’s bad for your health, your happiness, your soul, and ultimately your work.

If the only thing keeping you chained to that smartphone is the fear you will somehow fail without it, remember this…

“Performance benefits from focussed attention.” — Anna Black