The blessing of technology is its 24/7 access. And the curse of technology is its 24/7 access.
At one of my recent Visioning Your Best 2017 workshops, one participant commented how grateful he felt to take the time to be still. And one of my clients shared that she was looking for ways to be present.
How about you? Are you feeling the need for more spaciousness in your life?
One of the pathways to creating more present-minded focus in your life is to dial down your digital connection.
I use the words “dial down” because I’m not advocating for you to get rid of your smartphone. The task at hand is to consciously invite more moments of present-moment awareness without distractions constantly bombarding you.
When you dial down your digital connection, you allow space to dial up your moments of present awareness.
In this light, here are 5 ways I’d like to offer you to experiment with dialing down your digital connection.
- Turn off your smartphone and computer notifications.
If you’re like many people, you have notification alerts that come on your phone and computer. From social media like Facebook or Twitter, to breaking news sources, to incoming emails, your phone and computer are vying for your attention. “Look at me!” it says. “Give me attention!” You can turn off your notifications so that you don’t stop what you’re doing and automatically pick up your phone every couple minutes. This gives you the power to decide when you want to look at social media, or news, or your email. And if turning off all your notifications is too much, pick one or two and notice how that changes how you experience your day.
- When you’re eating, turn off the tv and leave the computer, tablets and smartphones off the dining table.
In my pre-diabetes support group, I learned that eating while watching tv or looking at your phone can cause “mindless eating,” which can lead to eating past the point of being full. Rather than eating mindlessly, conscious eating allows you to notice not only what you’re eating, with all the tastes and smells, but also how you’re eating. If you’re eating with a group of people, you can also try this practice called “phone stacking” where you collect everyone’s smartphones and stack them all so that no one is tempted to sneak a peek. All this gives you the opportunity to enjoy your food and each other’s company.
- Charge your phones and tablets outside the bedroom.
If you’re looking for ways to have a more sound and blissful sleep, you can charge your phones and tablets away from the bed and in another room. If you check social media or read the news before bedtime, you can do this all outside the bedroom before you turn in. And if you use your phone as your alarm clock, you can still set it and have it away from your bed. That way you’ll be forced to get up and turn it off.
- Check email only at certain designated times of the day.
One of the biggest work distractions is checking your email constantly. One productivity strategy is to check your email at “batched” times, meaning you look at your emails in certain batches. You can check your email mid-morning and mid-afternoon, and all other times you can close your email programs. If you have time-sensitivities, you can always ask certain people to text if important. Again, the practice is letting you be in charge of your emails rather than having your emails in charge of you.
- Choose something fun to do…without your smartphone!
Is there something fun that you enjoy doing, perhaps something you haven’t done for a while? Maybe you like taking a hike, or walking through the neighborhood, or grabbing a cup of coffee. One tip is to choose something fun to do, and to leave your smartphone at home. If you have to bring it with you, in case of emergencies, you can always put it in airplane mode or turn it off. See if you can enjoy the activity and be present to it, in all its fullness and not through the camera lens.
Now that you have these different options, what’s next? This leads me to your coaching assignment for the week:
- Look at the list of ways to dial down your digital connection. See if you’d like to experiment with one of them, or come up with your own way to digitally disconnect.
- With the one you choose, try it out for three days in a row.
- Write back to me or leave a comment on the blog below to let us know how the experience was for you. Accountability and group sharing are keys to creating new habits.
- Then, experiment with another way to digitally disconnect for another three days and see how that works.
For extra bonus points, invite a friend to do this with you and check in with each other to see how it goes.
Again, the point of this exercise isn’t to cut you off completely from digital connections.
The real point is to give you greater power to choose the kinds of experiences you want to have.
Rather than passively saying yes to obtrusive distractions that take you away from the present moment, you have the power to consciously say yes to cultivating more moments of spaciousness in your everyday life.
I’d love to hear what other ways you have to digitally disconnect, or how this experiment works for you. Share with others, let’s create a learning community and leave a comment below.