You’ve probably thought about how to unplug recently, whether it’s because you realize you’re spending way too much time glued to a screen or because you’ve heard or read about the negative effects of screen time.
On its face, unplugging seems like a simple concept: Step away from your digital devices and do something else. Easy enough, right? But many of us have had the experience of trying to do this and quickly running into a roadblock. For example, say you’re planning to meet a friend for dinner. You show up, and they're not there. You have to take out your phone to text them, right? And just like that, you’re plugged back in.
Sadly, thanks to our screen-centric world, unplugging can feel nearly impossible. But with a few tweaks and strategies, you can make it happen. Here’s how.
Try spending one hour away from your phone every day
Sure, it’s not much, but daily mini tech fasts can be a great way to start your unplugging journey. Maybe you do it during a yoga class, during dinnertime, or for an hour before bed. It doesn’t matter when your phone-free hour occurs, what matters is that it happens at all.
Better yet, attempt a 24-hour tech fast
We say “attempt” because we know how tough this is. But with proper planning, you can pull it off. If you work on a computer, it’s probably not realistic to do this on a weekday, so aim for a weekend day instead. Even then, you’ll have to plan to be away from your phone or computer — which may involve letting people in your life know that you’ll be unreachable (unless you still have a landline, of course).
Use a real alarm clock and buy a watch
We rely on our phones for a lot of things these days, including helping us wake up and letting us know what time it is. If you want to live a life that’s more unplugged, buy an alarm clock (this one, which wakes you up with a light that mimics a sunrise instead of using noise, is a great option), and a watch that you can glance at when you need to know what time it is so you don't have to reach for your phone.
Use a watch to tell time instead of your phone.
Make a list of things you like to do that don’t require technology
Sometimes we turn to our phones, laptops, or TVs because we don’t know what else to do. It’s not you, it’s the nature of the world we live in today! If you feel like you’re often running into this problem, start by making a list of things you can do instead of engaging with your devices. This will look different for everyone, but here are some examples:
- Read a book
- Play an instrument
- Go for a walk
- Take a yoga class
- Spend time with a friend
- Cook using a cookbook
- Listen to music on the radio
- Go for a drive
Find technology alternatives in your workday
One of the reasons people flock to Silk + Sonder is because it gives them a non-digital space to get organized, which clears a lot of mental space and allows for creativity. One way to unplug is to think about the little workday to-dos that you can take off your phone or computer and bring onto a piece of paper instead.
A few examples might include to-do lists, brainstorming sessions, or your calendar. If you don’t work outside the home or don’t often utilize tech when you work, keep in mind that these alternatives can be applied to social and home-based tasks, too.
Set screen time goals
Most phones have a function that lets you know how many hours a day you’re averaging on your phone — and laptops tend to have this function, too. If you’ve ever received one of these screen time reports, you’re probably familiar with the experience of being shocked by exactly how much tech time you’re clocking.
So, set a screen time “goal,” and one that you know is realistic for you. Half an hour a day sounds great, but it’s not realistic for everyone, so instead aim for two hours a day. If you need accountability, try using a habit tracker.
Set “no phone” times
This is different from taking an hour or even 24 hours away from your phone, because it centers on specific times or activities when you don’t touch your phone. Maybe you don’t use your phone during meal times, on walks, or when you’re exercising. Setting this kind of boundary can be a great tool for unplugging.
What tips or tricks help you unplug? Let us know in the comments — we’re all looking for inspiration. And while you’re at at it, check out these 8 tips for setting better boundaries.