8 Ideas to Help You Unplug

46% of smartphone owners say they "can't live without" their phones. (1)
The average American adult spends 11 hours per day on gadgets. (2)
The amount of time you are on your phone is probably twice the amount you estimate. (3)


Most of us don't really need to read statistics to know that the typical American is plugged in more than unplugged. Televisions, cellphones, kiosks at the restaurant table, even little devices that clip onto our clothes to tell us how well we sleep, the tether is everywhere.

In general, we love it that way. I can carry an entire library of books in my back pocket. My mom got to see her grand babies via FaceTime even though we are far away. The answer to practically every conceivable question is only a few keystrokes away. These are good things brought to us by technology.

But sometimes, we get to much of a good thing. The balance sways and we need to readjust in order to live the life we desire. If you are feeling like your technology use is a little out of balance, here are 8 ideas to help you unplug.


1. Use non-digital alternatives.
Many of the things we use our technology aren't really new. We just digitized the task. Pick a few specific tasks to un-plug. Feel like reading a book? Pick up a hardback. Ditch the digital planner for pen and paper. Play a board or card game instead of an on-line favorite. Start with one, then add others until you reach your desired balance.

2. Switch to a real alarm clock and/or watch.
Keep from reaching for your phone first thing in the morning by getting a old-fashion alarm clock. Start wearing a watch so you don't have to reach for you phone to check the time. By handling your phone less, you are less likely to get distracted on the internet.

3. Set restrictions for your technology usage. 
It is common for parents to set technology restrictions for their kids such as no television before chores, only 1 hr of screen time a day, etc. Turn the tables, be an example and set some limits for yourself. Consider ideas such as:
  • No social media before devotions.
  • Pinterest and Facebook only on evenings or weekends.
  • All technology off one hour before bed.
  • Only 1 hour of non-business related screen time per day. 

4. Make a list of things you want to look up.
One article I read noted that people tend to spend short little burst on-line. A question pops into our heads and we jump on-line to find the answer. To limit these distractions, write questions down and look them up later. You might find you didn't really need to know who originally sang that song stuck in your head. 

5. Make an "unplugged" to-do list.
Compile a list of unplugged activities you enjoy, things that recharge you. When you have a few free minutes (or need a few minutes) pick something off your list to do. Having a few pre-selected, "unplugged"activities will help keep you from defaulting to mindless digital media consumption. Tip: Try to include items in your list that take a variety of lengths time (10 min, 30 min, 1 hr., etc). Then you will have something for short breaks as well as those elusive longer breaks. 

6. Schedule device sabbaticals. 
Pick a day a week or a day a month to severely limit your screen time. Try setting a limit that is within reach but stretches you. Consider one day a month with no television or internet usage. Or maybe one day a week with no social media. Tip: Assign your devices (phones, tablets, remotes) a special "sabbatical zone." It will help you keep from picking them up out of habit.

7. Drop you data plan. Cut the cable.
A little extreme to some, but depending on you goals and lifestyle this might be a great way to disconnect more often. 

If you have WiFi internet broadcasted in your home and don't need internet when you are out and about, not being able to get on the internet could be a great way to cut down on habitual internet browsing. Also, if you find yourself in town and really need internet, many places have free WiFi available. (A few local places include: Jo-Anns, the library, Panera, Staples, Starbucks, Lowes, HomeDepot and probably many more).

Also, trimming your cable/satellite plan might help cut out undesired mindless television viewing.
The bonus with both of these option is that they save you money each month. Over the course of a year, that money can add up! Less plugged in time and more cash flow are both awesome positive life changes.

Finally...
Making changes like this can be hard. Making new habits requires the brain to make new pathways and that takes time. Be sure to give yourself grace as you work on changing how you interact with technology. The results are worth it.

(1) Anderson, M. (2015, April 01). 6 facts about Americans and their smartphones. Retrieved July 05, 2016, from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/04/01/6-facts-about-americans-and-their-smartphones/
(2) Brown, M. (2015, March 13). Nielsen reports that the average American adult spends 11 hours per day on gadgets. Retrieved July 05, 2016, from http://www.geekwire.com/2015/nielsen-reports-that-the-average-american-adult-spends-11-hours-per-day-on-gadgets/
(3) Gregoire, C. (2015, November 2). You Probably Use Your Smartphone Way More Than You Think. Retrieved July 5, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/smartphone-usage-estimates_us_5637687de4b063179912dc96


What do you do to help keep your screen time in check?

Comments

  1. Kristen, this is a great read and will be very thought provoking for many. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Marie. It is a constant battle for our digitally minded generation to keep this balance.

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