Mind no better than a goldfish? We need a digital detox!

Woah, it’s tough doing a digital detox, isn’t it?  Are you on one too?  I feel for you.

I’m not particularly phone-focused. I don’t have Facebook or Twitter on my iPhone any more and I never check it in company, but it’s still been a challenge to make a few new changes I know will be good for me.

I made a great start to the year. On a five-day New Year retreat I didn’t look at my phone or emails once. It was a total liberation. I felt bright-eyed, focused and calm when I got home, all set to build on my success with a 30-day online digital detox.

But then it went a bit wrong. Until I started planning for this blog, I hadn’t even opened the digital detox emails containing the instructions of what not to do. How did that happen?

Digital detox

It was one of my clients that got me back on track. She’s the busy CEO of an international consortium and had been feeling really worn down before Christmas. In her last coaching session we talked about the benefits of starting a digital detox. Her progress report which I encourage all my clients to fill my in before each coaching session had me grinning with delight. This is what she said:

“Stop using my work phone as an alarm clock, switch it off at 8pm and leave outside the bedroom – YES! 90% success rate here so far.”

“Only check my emails on the work phone when I am on the train to office and then in the office, don’t check again but focus on the planned tasks for the day – YES! 80% success rate here.”

What a star! I could see what a huge impact switched-off time was having on her.

So, why should you and I bother?

There are a 101 compelling reasons why a digital detox is a good idea. I won’t list all the reasons here; It’s Time To Log Off has done a great job of that.

But the one that really got me was that we now have an attention span that is less than that of a goldfish! Seriously?! If it really is that short, how on earth are we to focus on the challenging and important projects we’re committed to in order to make our difference in the world?

It feels like a bit of a no-brainer to me.

So, I’m going back to my plans, a slightly more modest seven-day detox. Let’s do it together.

Seven-day detox

Day One: Don’t use your phone as an alarm. Go and get yourself a good old-fashioned alarm clock. Come to think of it, I’ve already got a great frog one somewhere. Anyone who’s done my Taming Time training knows that will get me off to great start.

Day Two: Don’t check your phone first thing in the morning. If that freaks you out, it’s probably a really great idea. We general reach for our phones in a totally unmindful way, with no real intent. My plan is to leave the phone downstairs overnight and be present with my girls until they are off to school. I’ll take a look at 8 o’clock earliest. What about you?

Day Three: Disable all notifications on your phone and laptop. I’ve already managed to do this and I recommend it hugely. They are just plain distracting. There’s no need to bombard your mind with all this stuff when you’re trying to do something else. You’ll notice your productivity goes up very nicely.

Day Four: Put your phone down elsewhere, eg not in your pocket and set an alarm for when you check your phone or email. Start with 20 minutes and see if, over a few days, you can work up to to two-hour gaps between checks. Apparently, on average we handle our phones 150 times a day, mostly totally unconsciously. Setting an alarm to check your phone helps you be more mindful of why you’re using it. You focus in on tasks related to the phone and allow yourself to be in the moment you’re actually in when you’re not on it. Not looking forward to that one? Me neither, but I think it’ll be good for us.

Day Five: Get into nature. Just do it! However busy you are. Even ten minutes walking outside in the air makes a difference. Nature doesn’t have to be a walk in the woods or by the sea. A city park or garden is just as good, even a street. See if you can really look around you and notice what is there. Actively clock it in your mind. A plane tree, a tiny flower, some fallen leaves. This mindfulness practice is a great antidote to phones, emails and busyness.

Day Six: This one is for you to decide. Are you struggling with a step from one to five? How about giving it another go. What is your most unhelpful digi habit? What do you think you need to do to change it? Make a start on that today. Take a look at www.Itstimetologoff.com for ideas.

Day Seven: Leave your phone behind when you go out. Yep, it’s a tough one. But we can do this now! You will not believe how wonderful this makes you feel, once you get used to it.

Good luck!

Over to you

Do you feel you need to loosen your attachment to your phone? If you’re going to give this 7 day digital detox a go, I’d love to hear from you! Or perhaps you’ve tried reducing your screen-time already? How did it go? Could you feel the difference? Do share your thoughts in the comments below; I always enjoy hearing from you and your thoughts might just help someone else!

What next?

Are you committed to making a change in 2018 and ready to explore whether coaching might help? Call me on 0208 772 7808 or (07958 501 427) or drop me an email at Katie@be-the-change.org.uk. We can have a no-obligation phone chat to see how I can help you take those important next steps.

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