I took spring cleaning to a monster level. It started with my closet. One after another, I saw my collected goods dwindle before my eyes. It felt therapeutic and freeing. What was next?
After feeling the liberation of freeing my closet, I was addicted to minimalizing my life. I moved on to other areas of my home. I spent many months shedding all the excess I’d accumulated throughout my life. Old pots and pans, dying plants, clutter in my pantry … yet after sorting through each room, closet, and storage area, I had felt a sneaking suspicion in my soul that I had more to do. I knew there were other areas of my life that deserved the same mindful consideration.
I picked up my phone to write some notes, and there it was … big beautiful icons crowding every inch of my device. Glowing little icons that screamed, “open me”! One social app after another starred back at me.
I knew what had to be done.
I’ve experienced that love+hate war with technology. In many ways, it helps my relationships and business. I’m able to keep in touch with friends (and strangers) who live across continents. I can find new recipes, keep up with the news, find new creative ideas. In other ways, its ammunition for negative feelings; ones of shame, disappointment, confusion, comparison, and of course, FOMO!!. Before I realized it, I’m engrossing every dollop of information on my pretty glowing screen. I’m lost down the rabbit hole and quickly my attempt to connect with the outside world becomes a wave of overconsumption. I needed a technology diet. Laptops, tablets, and smartphones are a big contributor to life distractions. We grab our phones when they beep, ring, light up, vibrate or sometimes we check it compulsively for no reason pretty much anytime we’re bored, curious, or in search of an answer to a question that seems urgent.
So it begins, my detox with technology.
I modified my news feeds, followings, blocked a few crazies, and monitored my usage. I created my own set of parameters that made sense to me, like no scrolling two hours before bedtime or first thing in the morning. I also removed apps from my phone like shopping apps, Tinder … any apps that complicated my time or are just plain stupid.
I wouldn’t classify the elimination of my apps as awe life-changing, but it’s reframed the way I view and use social media. Its absence from my life has revealed the things I don’t miss, like petty arguments with complete strangers and shameful negative posts. It is vital to reflect on how the things I do on a regular basis makes me feel. What I absorb online, highly affects the awareness within me.
I had to ask myself, “How do the people and pages I follow and connect with affect my quality of life?” It’s encouraged me to ask whether the things I soak in on a daily basis drain my energy, inspire me, create confidence, and bring out the best version of me. It reminds me of my greater purpose in life: to live mindfully and intentionally, with awareness in all areas of my life, including online.
Your phone’s blue light has a dark side.
Light of any kind at night suppresses the secretion of melatonin, (the stuff that helps us sleep) but blue light at night is more powerfully. Exposure to blue light at night, emitted by electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs is harmful to your health. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the cause of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
What you can do.
- Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
- Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
- If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
TIPS FOR A TECHNOLOGY DIET.
Go for a walk every day without your phone.
Ditch your phone every Sunday, making that conscious effort to take a technology break. If you like the idea but aren’t ready to go that far, try Sundays from 12-5 p.m. (or choose a day of the week that works best for your schedule.)
Silence your phone.
Silence your phone every evening from 6-8 p.m. (or any other two-hour window of time).
Take one weekend a month and go somewhere in nature without cell service. If you have more willpower, you can simply avoid using your device instead of going somewhere that doesn’t allow you to connect. I don’t have that kind of willpower, so I like to travel without data service.
Turn your phone off.
This sounds easy, but it’s not easy to follow through with. For many, our smartphone is our source of music, calculator, watch, and our means of communication and entertainment. Turn it off?! When it doesn’t need a restart?! YES! Turn it off. I promise you won’t miss as much as you think you are.
Put your phone on airplane mode.
One of my favorite things about traveling is disconnecting. I get so much done on airplanes and hotel rooms without the distraction of emails, Facebook, and text messages. It didn’t occur to me until recently that I can just take the same approach when I need to crank out some critical thinking or designing.
Silence your notifications.
When you’ve got an important task at hand, turn off your notifications so you won’t be interrupted. This means all app notifications that pop up on your screen: email, calendar reminders that ding or appear, Instagram likes, and Facebook notifications.
Set up a device-free zone.
Designate one or two areas in your house where devices are not allowed. Once you’re used to it, you’ll find yourself enjoying those places most in your home. A good trial zone to begin with, might be your bedroom.
Once you begin to incorporate more technology breaks into your life, your instinct to grab your phone for every little thing will decrease; you’ll rely less on technology, more on intuition, and find more mindful moments in your life.