Just like everything in life, moderation is key when it comes to our electronics, and that's the aim of a digital detox: reminding you that there's life beyond the gadget, and that your brain won't melt if you unplug for a few days.
The idea of a digital detox is to unplug completely, turn off your phone, hide your tablet, and try to read something you didn't first see on Reddit. And ideally, you're supposed to do it for at least a few days to get those feel-good, I-just-hiked-a-waterfall effects.
Okay, let's not get all crazy, let's go for a half
A few hours?
Okay, let's go for a good, solid hour sans electronics.
5 signs you're in desperate need of a digital detox and your friends may have to do an intervention
#1: You've already seen it!
Are your friends sharing links to articles or funny memes with you, and every single one of them is old news?
You might be spending too much time online. This happened to me more often than I like to admit, and for the longest time I just figured my friends were slow to get the latest viral videos and trends.
As it turns out, I was spending way too much time online, and I was among the first to see... everything.
#2: People say you're always on your phone (and tbh, you are)
When you go out, are you looking for things to post on Instagram or Facebook more than actually experiencing you surroundings? You can brush off the odd "put your phone down" comment, but if you get this feedback a lot it's time to ask yourself if you're actually in a tech bubble.
#3: Your battery runs out too fast.
We all want phones and laptops with Iron Man's power source lighting them up for weeks on end, but the fact is that most of our electronics can make it through a day of average use.
If you see your phone's red battery warning at noon while you're browsing Facebook, it might be time to re-think your habits.
#4: Nothing satisfies you.
When I went through this phase I didn't get any satisfaction from browsing my usual news sites and social media accounts. Not that there wasn't anything new on there, but I'd seen everything so much that it became a mindless activity that brought me no joy.
#5: You are a mindless zombie.
Many of us have experienced this at some point: you go on Facebook, see nothing new (mindlessly browsing, again), think - hey! I know, I'll just open a new tab and... go on Facebook. Habits end up getting the better of us and the cycle repeats itself.
4 simple ways to go on a digital detox diet (while still getting your fix)
Do you recognize yourself in the symptoms above? I’m willing to bet that many of us have gone through the same stages before. Thankfully, there are steps we can take to get better, and there’s no digital detox clinic you have to secretly go to - just a couple of small changes in your routine.
#1: Go Pomodoro
The pomodoro technique is a great way of staying focused on what you need to get done. Surprisingly enough, it works and it keeps you from aimlessly surfing the internet while you should be doing something more important.
How it works is simple: you need to focus for 25 minutes on your task at hand, then have a 5 minute break before starting another cycle. Apps like ClearFocus are a must-have to help you stay committed to a digital detox.
#2: Use one gadget to help you detox from all the others
As I was explaining in my Android Wear review, ironically the key to not spending all my time on my gadgets was another gadget.
If you have a smartphone, look at your notifications on it instead of on the phone, and dismiss the ones that don't need your attention right now. That way you won't be tempted to waste time.
#3: Restrict your own access with AppDetox
A great way to make sure you won't use certain apps is to restrict access to them. "Thank you, captain Obvious!" you might say, but it's actually a simple (and yeah, obvious) way of keeping your phone use in check.
AppDetox is one app that lets you choose which apps you aren't allowed to procrastinate on, and just cuts them off at specified time intervals.
#4: Find some friggin' will power, already
At the end of the day, you will find a way to bypass any restriction you set up for yourself. The key is inside you and nobody else will force you to make a change.
Take a step back, realize when enough is enough and set healthy limits for yourself.
All in all, does it work?
So does a digital detox make you feel less frazzled, stressed, anxious, or bored?
If you find yourself in several of the categories above, try the tips to digital detox yourself and see how they work for you. I went on a "diet" myself and after a couple of weeks I found myself a much more productive - and happy! - person.
Check back with us after a couple of days and let us know how these tips worked for you, or post your digital detox experience in the comments below.
Images' sources: netsafe.org, dribble.com, businesskorea.co.kr, freebie.photography, newsyac.com, microsoft.com, recruitmentcoach.com, matthiasboehmer.de, wired.co.uk