We are technologically and informationally deluged. Smartphones are essentially the new cigarettes.
Although we all could use some disconnection in our lives, we’re so inundated that we may feel like we can’t step away for whatever reason. But those who suffer from FOMO—Fear of Missing Out—need disconnection the most.
I’ve heard people advocate for “tech sabbaths,” where you take a day—Sunday, for example—and keep all of your technology off, including cell phone, tablet, computer, and TV. I can’t comment on it because I’ve never tried it, but I plan on testing it out in the near future.
So instead of a “tech sabbath,” what I do is make several little disconnections each day. Regarding cell phone use, I refuse to bring it with me to the bathroom (every guy knows how easy it is to spend 10-15 minutes on the toilet if he has his phone on him) and don’t use it while getting ready for the day.
Regarding the internet, I put my computer on hibernate and turn my cell phone to silent a little while before I hit the sack. I used to do this an hour before going to bed, but for me the duration matters not. All that matters is that I don’t use technology right before turning out the lights, opting to read a book or write in my journal instead.
If your job involves heavy computer use—what job doesn’t nowadays?—I recommend devoting at least a couple hours in the evening to leisure activities that don’t necessitate the use of technology. Like working out, reading a physical book, doing Sudoku or crossword puzzles, or whatever.
Another helpful trick is one I learned from a friend of mine: Keep all text message and app notifications on silent, but leave your ringer on in case someone calls you. I’m not sure how you can change this on iPhone, but on Android you just turn it to “Priority Only.” That way you’re not constantly distracted by things that can wait. If there’s an emergency, someone will get a hold of you by calling.
When doing a session of deep work, I keep my phone on “Priority Only” since I’m used to not receiving many phone calls. But if you’re someone who frequently talks on the phone, I recommend just putting the phone on silent when deep working or focusing on a goal.
I also deleted Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail from my phone. Those are colossal time sucks; I’ve found that you’re less likely to dink around on your phone if you’re not being bombarded with notifications of new likes on your post, replies from that girl whose DMs you slid into, or emails about stuff that doesn’t need an immediate response.
Just disconnecting a little bit each day benefits you more than you may think. Try out some of these tips and tricks. It’s a liberating feeling!