Week Eight: Choosing Rules and Tools for Your Digital Detox
Quitting anything cold turkey is often a recipe for failure, so before embarking on a 30 day digital detox/declutter two weeks from now, it’s important to do some prep work to ensure it will be successful.
I’d suggest tackling two projects this week to get started.
Set some rules
First, it may be helpful to establish some ground rules about what technology you specifically intend to eliminate during this 30 day period and how you plan to manage that process.
(Think of this as akin to setting out bins for “keep,” “trash,” and “donate” before deep cleaning your home. What technology do you intend to keep, get rid of, or repurpose during this 30 day period?)
Because everyone uses technology differently and has different problem areas and needs, your rules should be unique to you — just make sure they aren’t too vague OR too strict.
For example, “Have better boundaries with technology” isn’t a clear enough rule to be helpful or enforceable, and one like, “Cut all technology from my life for 30 days,” might be too hard to implement.
Your rules will likely fall somewhere in the middle. They may be simple like, “Quit Facebook for 30 days,” or involve some caveats like, “Only visit Facebook once a day —on a desktop computer — for the next 30 days.”
Remember you can tweak a number of different variables in your rules, including…
- The type of technology you’re planning to remove: (e.g. “Take a 30 day break from all of my mobile devices, save for checking weather apps and clocks.”)
- The reason why you’re using the technology: (e.g. “Take a 30 day break from all technology used primarily for entertainment.”)
- The location where you use the technology: (e.g. “For the next 30 days I’m only going to listen to podcasts in my car, nowhere else.”)
- Whom you’re with when you use the technology: (e.g. “For the next 30 days I’m only watching Netflix in the company of other people so I’m less tempted to binge watch.”)
- How, if, or when you are in contact with the technology: (e.g. “Turn off all notifications, save for calendar reminders, for the next 30 days.”)
If you’re not sure where to begin with your ground rules, revisit the data you collected in Weeks 4, 5, & 6 and use that information as a starting place.
Explore some tools
In addition to your ground rules it may be helpful to also identify tools to help police your activities during your 30 day detox/declutter.
The Internet is teeming with apps and programs to help you carve out more free/quiet time in your life, set boundaries with problematic apps, or block out digital distractions. Some options include:
- Off the Grid: helps control phone addiction
- Space: helps find phone/life balance
- AppDetox: helps control mobile app usage
- Flipd: helps you find/enjoy mindful moments
- Moment: helps you use your phone in a healthier manner
- Freedom: app and website blocker for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome
- Antisocial: blocks the internet, websites and apps you choose on your Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad
Depending upon the rules you set, any of these tools, (or something else entirely — maybe you just plan to stick your phone in a drawer for a month!) might be helpful to support your 30 day detox.
Again, the data you collected in Weeks 4, 5, & 6 should give you a starting place for choosing the right tool(s) for you.
This week’s exercise
Using the information provided above, determine the rules and tools you’re going to employ for your 30 day detox that begins in two weeks, (March 7, for those of you who are following this eCourse in real time).
- Draft a list of ground rules that clarify what tech will be allowed and what will not during this 30 day period. (It’s important to actually write these rules down somewhere, rather than simply brainstorming them in your head.) If you feel like you need support in this task, you may want to check out Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism, (particularly Chapter 3) which gives examples of how other people have managed their decluttering.
- Explore some of the tools listed above and decide if any might be helpful to you. Download and play around with the tools you like best.
Next week we’ll continue planning for your detox by brainstorming way to interrupt those automatic urges you will have to use technology while you’re taking this break, redirecting your attention to other pursuits. I look forward to seeing you then.
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