Technology provides us with virtual amazingness all day long. But it can also be incredibly addictive, which means we often spend more time on our phones than talking to the people right in front of us. And this is where learning how to unplug comes in, and in a seriously important way.
And I don't mean any of us need to become technological hermits, deactivating from all social media and throwing our computers into large bodies of water. I simply mean most of us could probably benefit from simple and practical ways to use our phones a little less so that we can be in the moment a little more. For example, when was the last time you called, instead of texted, a good friend? And when was the last time you took a walk completely by yourself, sans the familiar ping of your Twitter account?
If the answer is, "I don't remember," then odds are pretty good that your attention is often divided between the world in front of you and your phone. If you're starting to feel frazzled, or like you need more mental space to be alone with your thoughts, here are 11 super easy ways to be plugged in less and to live life more:
1. Set Timers
A compilation piece for Shape recommended setting a timer on your phone for pre-planned times to respond to emails and social media. Try to only reply to texts and emails at these pre-determined times.
2. Make A "No Phone While Eating" Rule
The same Shape piece also included a "no phone at dinner" rule. This means you'll be entirely present when eating with other people. And if you're eating by yourself, it means you'll be completely aware of the food and flavors in front of you.
3. Keep All Alerts On Silent
In a piece for Inc, activist Sloane Davidson recommended keeping all phone alerts except for actual phone calls on silent. That way, you won't be pulled from your own head space by alerts and will only be checking your phone on your terms.
4. Always Keep Your Phone Face Down
Davidson also recommended simply keeping your phone face down. That way, even when it's on silent mode, you won't be distracted by the light or blink of an incoming message. This one tiny tip can mean the difference between an uninterrupted hour of concentration and constant message checking.
5. Charge Your Phone In A Room You Don't Often Use
Another compilation piece, this time on The Muse, suggested charging your phone in a room you don't often go in, like the dining room or a guest room. That way it will be out of site, and hopefully out of mind for at least a little while. You'll likely be surprised by how long you go without thinking about it.
6. And Keep It In A Separate Room From Where You Sleep
In a segment on CBS News, NewYorker.com tech editor Nicholas Thompson also suggested keeping your phone in a different room at night. That way you won't be tempted to check it before bed or first thing in the morning, giving you a few more precious moments of unplugged time.
7. Uninstall Social Media Apps
That same Muse compilation piece recommended uninstalling social media apps, like Facebook or Twitter. This not only means you'll get fewer pings and notifications, but you'll have to access the sites manually. Your data usage will likely go way down.
8. Block Certain Sites From Your Computer
There are actually applications that can temporarily block social media sites from your computer, meaning you're unable to check them impulsively when you should be focusing on other things. If this sounds like something that could work for you, try starting with Cold Turkey or SelfControl.
9. Leave Your Phone At Home When You Go For Walks
This is a crazy simple one, but it will do wonders for your sense of balance. Try to schedule at least one activity a day, like a walk or bike ride, where you leave your phone at home. That way you won't even be tempted to look at it.
10. Make A "No Phone Before Bed Rule"
This is something I've been doing for a while and it not only helps me to be more present, but I've found I fall asleep way faster when it comes time for bed. I put my phone in another room about 45 minutes before I plan to go to sleep and read in bed if I'm bored. It has seriously become one of my most anticipated parts of the day.
11. Plan For A "Digital Detox"
CBS News suggested planning for a "digital detox," which is a 24- to 72-hour period during which you simply don't use your phone (if your job allows it). Think of it like a technology holiday. And if this sounds too extreme, start small, like a social media holiday in which you uninstall a few apps from your phone and block them on your computer.
Phone addiction is very real, but it doesn't have to control your life. Just take a few proactive steps to use your phone less, and start realizing how much more there is to life than that plastic little square in your pocket.