Tech Addiction

3 Easy Ways to Go on a Digital Diet

Here's how to shed a few hours staring at your screen without going crazy.
3 Easy Ways to Go on a Digital Diet
Image credit: Jon Ragel | Getty Images

In this always-on and connected world, it’s too easy to catch ourselves constantly staring at screens and mindlessly swiping through dribble online for hours and hours while the real world passes us by.

Digital overload is real -- and sad.

Lot’s of people talk about doing a “digital detox,” where you give up electronics cold turkey over a period of time. To me, that sounds intimidating. I might lose my mind from full-on digital withdrawal.

Not to mention excessive. What are the long-term results when most people simply can’t get by without their mobile phones, computers or other devices under everyday circumstances?

I say, forget the detox. How about a digital diet instead?

Related: The Shocking Lessons I Learned After I Quit My Social Media Addiction in 3 Days in the Desert

By following a handful of simple rules, you can keep connected digitally without constant use or interruption. In the long-term, you might even form better habits and be happier and more productive overall.

Sounds pretty sweet, right? Let’s give it a shot.

1. Establish no-device times.

Here’s where the “diet” comes in. Instead of doing a full-on detox, simply set some boundaries. These device-free times will vary from person-to-person, depending on your individual needs.

Maybe you decide to ditch your devices in the morning while you work out and get your day started. Perhaps dinners are no-device times so you can spend that time connecting with your family. You could put the devices away an hour or so before bed, too, so that you can unwind and get to sleep without emails and Netflix beaming through your brain.

Whatever time or times you pick, make sure you stick to it. Otherwise, you won’t form the habit nor will you enjoy the results.

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2. Avoid notification insanity.

The problem with our digital screens is that they become distractions. If you have a smartwatch then your wrist can be constantly buzzing with notifications. If not, you’re probably checking your phone incessantly for the flashing light or vibration or sound of an incoming call, email, text, or whatever.

Too many notifications can be maddening. Go into your device settings right now and turn off notifications that you don’t immediately need.

Let’s say, for example, you get a new work email once every five minutes on average. If you get those notifications sent to your phone or smartwatch then you’ll constantly be distracted (and potentially driven insane!). Turn off those notifications and make it a habit to manually check your work email at intervals that make sense to you.

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3. Give social media a break already.

You get bored so you check social media. Then, suddenly, you’re sucked in and an entire evening is gone. All you have to show for it is your friend’s food porn on Facebook and mind-numbing memes on Imgr. Your real-world connections (friends, family) have moved on.

Just like your work email, pick specific times during the day to check your social accounts. Be smart about getting social notifications on your phone, if at all. And if you’re one of those people who post overly personal information desperately hoping to get a reaction or sympathy or whatever from your “friends,” do everyone a favor and just stop. (You know who you are.)