It’s a curious state we find ourselves in these days. Most of us understand that time is a precious asset. Yet few would disagree that altogether too much of this precious asset is being frittered away.
Rather than engaging with our actual lives right in front of us, we’re scrolling through edited versions of other people’s lives—people we may or may not know. Of course, it’s not just other people; it’s brands, news feeds, and politicians, too. These are what we’re giving a significant portion of our precious asset to each and every day.
Sure, these glowing rectangles in our pockets are useful and there are plenty of ways that they actually save us time. But we’re now spending “an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social networking and messaging platforms,” according to market research company Global Web Index. That’s almost 17 hours each week. Those attention engineers are frighteningly effective at their jobs.
With summer upon us, let’s get more intentional about how much of our precious time we’re going to allow ourselves to scroll and how much we’re going to spend engaged in our actual lives right in front of us.
Here are eight ways to unplug this summer.
Boot Your Phone From Your Bedroom
If you go to bed with your phone on your nightstand, it’s time to make a change. Plug in your charger in a far-away room and charge your phone there while you sleep. You’ll ensure that you’re not awakened by notifications, tempted to look at your phone in the middle of the night, nor staring at blue light right before sleep (which has been shown to cause sleep problems). Also, your phone won’t be the first thing you look at when you wake up.
This small adjustment can have a significant impact.
Turn Off Notifications
It’s almost embarrassing how effective those red indicators or simple dings are at pulling us away from whatever we’re doing to check our phones. Who’s in charge here, anyway?
To be sure it’s you—head to your phone’s settings and turn off every notification for every app you have. From now on, you decide when you’re going to check email or scroll through Instagram, not your phone.
Perhaps you’ve come to realize that certain apps draw you in more than others and that you have been wasting way too much time on them. How much value does scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram really bring you? Are you just clicking on these icons out of habit? Do you suddenly look up wondering how much time has passed and what you were looking for in the first place?
Delete them from your phone. Don’t worry, your account won’t go anywhere, and you can get the app back whenever you want. The time you get back in your life may be eye-opening.
Leave Home Without It
Pretend it’s way back in the 1990s and leave your home without your phone. Run an errand, go for a walk, visit a friend—all while being completely untethered to your phone. Do this as often as you can. The scarier this sounds to you, the more you need to try it.
Kick It Old School
Embrace the charm of vintage delights such as your old record player, physical books, fun pens and notebooks, a calendar on the wall, a chalkboard for reminders, a watch, and speaking with other people face to face. Reduce your dependence on your phone and gain an appreciation for the non-digital.
Bathe in Nature
As you disconnect from your phone, reconnect with nature. A walk in the woods or along the shoreline—sans AirPods—will rejuvenate you. Allow your senses to take in what is before you. Listen to the branches swaying in the breeze, the birds calling to one another, the waves lapping along the shore, and the sound of your own footsteps. Notice the weather, the shapes of the clouds, the people you pass by. The world around us is amazing if we care to take notice.
Aim for Continuous Improvement
Use the screen-time monitoring on your phone and aim to beat your weekly total each week. How much time are you spending on your phone? How low can you get that number?
Addiction to our phones is real. Many have compared the pull to drug addiction. So, unplugging is going to be uncomfortable.
Embrace the discomfort. Each week, compare yourself to last week. If you stumble, pick yourself back up and keep going.
Ask your friends and family members to keep you accountable.
You don’t want to be a slave to your digital devices. You don’t want to give a giant portion of your summer away to a glowing rectangle.
This summer, spend less time on your phone and more time on your life.