We’ve been looking digital minimalism and how taking some time away from your gadgets can improve your life. Ironically, using technology such as email auto-responders, blog post schedulers, email sorters, voicemails, and bill-pay, can actually help you prepare for your digital detox and make it more successful. Let’s take a look at a few simple ways to make your time away from technology easier.
If you are taking a retreat
Give an emergency contact a way to reach you for emergencies. It’s a good idea to specify what those emergencies are since different people consider different things urgent. You might not think that deciding what shade your best friend should color her hair qualifies as an emergency, but she may think it is. It’s important that someone knows how to get ahold of you if a member of your family becomes ill or gets locked out of the house.
If you aren’t going on retreat, this shouldn’t be a problem, since you can be found where you usually live and work, and will likely have access to your phone.
Put your toe over the starting line
- Prepare for your digital detox by easing into, it a week early. This way you can work out the kinks.
- Turn off your computer notifications,
- Start sorting your email as you prepare for your digital detox.
- Remove all social media apps and any other unnecessary apps/games from your phone. Don’t panic, you can always reinstall them after your detox if you want to.
Speaking of Panic
Even though I have taken breaks from technology in the past with no problems, I felt some anxiety while preparing for my month-long detox. After all, a month is a pretty big commitment. I found that it helped to journal through some of those feelings. By journaling, as you prepare for your digital detox, you can examine the feelings you have. Later you will look at your journal and see how far you’ve come!
Create “technology-free zones”
These are places where you don’t bring your devices. You’ll soon see how much you use and depend on technology. The bedroom is a great place to start since this technology is proven to negatively impact your sleep and your love life. From the notifications on your phone, habitually checking it (aka “checking out”), and blue lights that interfere with your sleep, devices can have a big-time effect on your nightlife.
The dinner table is another place that devices should be banned. Prepare for your digital detox by learning to spend more quality time together. Everyone can take a half an hour to converse with one another rather than look at their phones.
Prepare for your digital detox by disconnecting
I have a fitness tracker that’s hooked up to my phone. It lets me know whenever I get an email, a phone call or social media message. Do I really need to be that available? No. I turned off all of the notifications except for my morning alarm.
Replace social media time with real socialization. Write an actual letter and drop it in the mail each day. Call a friend rather than sending a text. Then, think about how it feels different than the quicker, more superficial alternatives.
How far will you go?
When I initially thought about this project, I planned to just quit social media. Soon the other modes of technology went down like dominoes. There were times when I thought, a month isn’t that long, but there are other times when a month seems impossible. One thing is for sure, A month will make a far greater impact on my habits than a weekend, or even a week without digital connections.
You will need to decide the parameters of your detox.
What will be off limits? What will you replace each item with? For example, every night my husband and I cap off the day with our latest binge-worthy Netflix series. Even when we’ve gone on trips without internet, we’ve brought along a DVD. So it was tough on my husband to have me draw the line there. But, I will be reading a novel to him. So, we’re replacing our viewing time with reading time.
Make sure you have everything you need, ahead of time.
If you are completely cutting off technology (no emergency searches) make any online purchases and print out recipes in advance. Think outside of the box as you prepare for your digital detox and during the detox. Call a friend who cooks, or pull out your Granny’s cookbook for that recipe you forgot to print out. Problem-solving will be part of the fun.
Keep track of how you’re feeling about your as you prepare for your digital detox, during your detox, and after. Watch for patterns and changes. You may feel on edge without your phone in your hand. You also might begin to feel very relaxed due to the lack of notifications on your phone and computer. You’ll get out of your digital detox what you put into it.
Don’t try to “evangelize” while you do your detox
What do I mean by that? Don’t be the guy who tries to convince everyone that they have a problem—even if they do. This is something you are doing for yourself. Sure, it’s a good idea for most people to give something like this a try. It can’t hurt, but that’s for them to decide on their own. Your friendships will fare far better if you make this about you. Feel free to share this series, though. And of course, let people know why it might seem like you dropped off the planet for a while.
One last thing, unless you are doing your detox on a weekend or during a vacation, you do still need to do your job, using technology as required. You can still gain a lot of benefit from doing only mandatory technology use. In fact, it’s often harder than just chucking it all and going to the woods for a few days.
I’ll share some of my observations from my digital detox.
What are YOUR thoughts?
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I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available at Amazon.com.
I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.