In the past few months, for almost all of us, technology has been the only source to experience a sense of social connectedness whilst maintaining social distancing. With nearly all public gatherings called off and schools, colleges, offices shut down physically, the virtual world has seen a significant increase in its visitors.
A lot of times we are tempted to think that the people who need to unplug from technology are the ones who are totally addicted to it. However, with the rapid increase in its use, we all need digital detox once in a while.
Like many of you out there, technology for me, had been serving as the source of staying up to date with whatever is happening, connecting to the workplace, connecting with my friends and family, learning something new and entertainment during this time. With everything happening online, my screen time increased tremendously. I wasn’t comfortable with this situation. It almost felt like bundles of information were coming from everywhere and smashing on to my face. I even started experiencing dryness in my eyes and mild headaches by the end of the day.
That’s when I realized that I had to figure out a way to manage this flow in a healthy way. I had to figure out a way to disconnect yet stay connected.
First step was to recognize the things that had no other alternatives and had to be done on the screen itself. From workplace meetings to taking online sessions, these were the things that couldn’t be compromised upon. While engrossed in these activities, I ensured that I kept taking small breaks in between that did not include screen.
As I dug deeper to decrease my screen time, it seemed almost impossible to cut down on the use of technology for bigger chunks. So, I started small.
Instead of maintaining my schedule and setting reminders on my phone, I started to manually maintain my weekly planner and to do list. This significantly reduced the number of times I had to go back to my phone to check what has been done and what is still left.
Further, I realized that I had multiple news applications in my phone to stay updated; however, I ended up wasting time reading the same news on different applications. It also became overwhelming with increased negative information all around. So I uninstalled all the other applications and kept only one. I also fixed a time limit of 20 minutes to read the news, just like I would spend it on reading the newspaper a few months back and disabled all the pop up notifications.
I started to create few more rules for my technology use that worked marvelously well for me.
RULE 1- No use of phone 10 minutes before sleeping and after waking up. Ideally it should be an hour, but I didn’t want to set unrealistic goals for myself. I could follow the 10 minute rule efficiently and I gradually went on to making it a 30 minute rule. I use this time to reflect on my day, setting goals for the coming day and giving myself positive affirmations. The mornings are now fresher and night’s sleep is sweeter.
RULE 2- Fixing up a screen free hour each day. I replace this hour with activities that do not require accessing the screen per se. Free dancing, writing, meditating, listening to a pre made playlist while sitting on my swing, walking in the balcony humming my favorite tune, dipping my hands into paints and colors, redecorating my room are a few things work for me.
RULE 3- Disabling auto login for my social media accounts. The efforts in putting the email id and password again and again bring to my notice the number of times I access my social media accounts for no reason. This really helped me control the information overload.
RULE 4- Meal time = No phone time. This period has given a lot of us the opportunity that we were looking for to reconnect with our families. I ensure that I have meals with my family and strictly do not use phone during that time. In fact I often leave it in my room itself. This gradually led my parents to do the same and we all enjoy this time having real conversations.
There are other rules that I keep on adding and altering every now and then as per the requirement to ensure my wellbeing.
This is my way of staying disconnected in an ever connected world. For me healthy disconnection doesn’t mean that you have to live off the grid or completely cut yourself off. That isn’t really possible in a time where everything is technologically driven. It’s about making the small changes that helps you break the barriers that the technology has created between you and the real world.
-by Eti Goel.