The fear of missing out (#FOMO) is real. Research indicates that cell phone users in India check their phones 150 times a day, even when it’s not blinking or buzzing with a new notification. If you relate to this, you’re more in need of a digital detox than you’d imagine.
Going cold turkey on your smartphone, however, is not a realistic plan. Online reports claim that 71% teenagers have deleted or deactivated their social media apps at least once (due to parental pressure or otherwise), but this hardly keeps them from developing an unhealthy attachment with their phones. If you’re a working professional, it’s even more difficult to disconnect, given the constant influx of official mails and notifications from work groups on WhatsApp.
That said, it’s not impossible to get a breather from your blue light devices. Here’s a simple, doable plan to get you started.
1. Uninstall WhatsApp For A Month
Fervid family groups, redundant planning groups (weddings, parties, trips) and a bunch of groups dating back to school or college days, could easily be muted on WhatsApp. However, you end up going back and scrolling through all the messages anyway. Mindless dialogue about the next one to get married, or the sharing of jokes, videos and baby photos takes up your memory space, exhausts your battery and wastes a whole lot of your time. Think about it: you never have the most important conversations over WhatsApp anyway. Going off WhatsApp puts an end to the mindless chatter and doesn’t come in the way of your work. Try uninstalling the app for a month, and you’ll find that you barely missed a thing.
2. Get Rid Of Facebook Messenger
So Facebook doesn’t let you access your personal messages unless you have downloaded its messenger app on your phone. If you get badgered by it’s notifications, it’s time to say goodbye to the app. Uninstalling the messenger from your phone doesn’t mean you cannot access those messages—it simply means that you check them on your laptop or desktop later on. Better than constantly checking the phone at the dinner table, right?
“I installed messenger and had it for two days before I uninstalled it, because people kept pinging randomly, and I used to get super bugged at work. Also I didn’t have the Facebook app on my phone for a year because I was working and studying, doing side projects and blogging at the same time,” says Vaisakhi Mishra, 24, a master’s student at University of Washington. Surely, there are more important things in life than the messenger.
3. Turn Off Notifications
Whether it’s your status update on Facebook receiving dozens of likes and comments, or a humdrum debate on one of your Whatsapp groups, it doesn’t need your immediate attention or response. The best way to ignore trivial communication is to turn off all of your notifications. Doing so keeps you from incessantly checking for social media validation. “So I uninstalled Facebook, mostly because it drains my battery and eats up my memory.
When I’m on the move, I’m not much on it. The same applies to Instagram and Snapchat. And if I do need to be on it, I access it through Chrome,” says Pranav Tonsekar, 25, a freelance writer.
4. Do Not Sync Work Mails On Your Phone
You spend a good 8-12 hours in office, but once you’re out of the building it is time to switch off and relax. So please don’t sync work mails on your phone. Answering that email can wait the night. And in case your company is falling apart without your response, we’re pretty sure they will reach you over a phone call.
5. Get Back To Enjoying Your Hobbies & Interests
Remember the last book you started and couldn’t complete, or the TV series you left midway? When you disconnect from tech, you’ll find that you have ample time to pursue hobbies and other fun activities. So get back to your book or TV series, catch the latest movie, or enjoy your favourite sport. Get off the screen, because there’s so much more to life!
6. Dial, Don’t Text
Put an end to those impersonal birthday and anniversary greetings sent over text. Think about how nice it feels to receive a wish over a phone call, as opposed to reading a generic message on your Whatsapp or Facebook wall. Do the same for others. “I have made my conversations minimal. I am hardly on Whatsapp, away from random chats. The few people I am regularly in touch with, I tend to talk to them over the phone instead. It helps me de-clutter,” says Gayatri Chatterjee, 26, a financial auditor at KPMG.
7. Practice Tough Love
Going off technology even for a little while is not going be a piece of cake. Breaking a habit is always difficult, and as clichéd as it may sound, the first week will be brutal. But if you can survive it, you’ll see the difference and feel motivated to complete your detox. Before you know it, you will be enjoying your meal without taking photos of it!
So go ahead try these tips for a digital detox and involve a friend or family member as well. Break a bad habit to embrace a good one.