Digital Detox: Making Time For What Matters

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Recently, I’ve noticed a trend. I get home from a long day of work, throw myself on my bed, and unlock my phone. I lay there, shoes still on, switching between apps. Half an hour goes by, and I’m not sure what I’ve actually taken in. An hour goes by, and my eyes begin to go fuzzy and the sun has set outside. On better days, I plug my phone in and go to bed. On worse days, I fall down a rabbit hole of rapidly accumulating snippets of information and fall asleep hours later, oversaturated and anxious.

Part of my excuse for this was that I was tired; I didn’t have the energy to spend time with friends, or read, or work on projects I’m putting off “until I have more time” (another conversation for another time). The other was that I was being social; I was answering messages across five platforms, and therefore, I was being productive.

For the last year, I’ve been busier than I’ve ever been before. It’s entirely my choice, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to do what I’m doing, but it’s exhausting. And that exhaustion leads to mindless scrolling when I feel I don’t have time or energy to do things I really want to be doing, like reading, writing, gardening, or painting.

Last Thursday, two things happened. First, I returned a stack of library books I’d already renewed once and hadn’t made time to read. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in them – they were titles I’d specifically picked, put on hold, and waited for – it was that, when I did manage to get an hour free, I always pulled my phone out to answer messages and scroll.

The second was that I listened to the minimalist’s podcast on digital clutter (which I highly recommend to everyone). In it, they spoke with their friend Cal Newport, an author and professor of computer sciences who focuses his work on the relationship between culture and technology.

They spoke on several topics – reducing digital clutter on social media, dealing with technological exhaustion – but what grabbed my attention was the mention of digital detox. For the past few months, I’ve wanted to break from the cycle of picking up my phone every time I have a free minute, but haven’t put in the effort to do so.

Because of this, I’m using the month of April as a time to detox from technology – namely, my phone. It’ll be done in two parts:

  1. Absolutely no use: instagram, snapchat, and facebook will be deleted off my phone, and I won’t check them from my laptop.
  2. Some use: messenger, email, and text will all have notifications turned off, and I’ll check them once or twice a day at most.

I’ve chosen to do it this way because the first category are apps I find myself mindlessly scrolling through when I could be doing other things, or that I feel obligated to answer all messages on. The second category are how I predominantly communicate with friends and family, and I want to have the option to do so still.

Now that work has slowed down (and I won’t be wasting hours on my phone), I’ll have time for things I want to do. Part of that translates into blogging – something I love, yet the first thing to go when I’ve got too much on my plate. So, every week of April, I’ll be posting about the detox process.

Other than that, I’ll be reading books that I’ve been putting off reading; writing poems and short stories; decluttering my house; planting my garden; selling old clothes; painting; finishing up prerequisites for the teaching program; start practicing yoga again. I’ve got a lot to do, and I’m excited to make room for things that matter.

If you’re up to it, do the detox with me and we can chat over email. If you’re not up to it yet, that’s okay too; follow along, and you might find inspiration to do it yourself one day.

Thanks for reading! Looking for more inspiration? Check out my Instagram.

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