Breaking Free from Phone Addiction: A Guide to Digital Detox and Improved Productivity

I recently read Cal Newport’s book “Digital Minimalism” and decided to do a digital detox to take back control of my phone. I want to share what I’m doing in hopes that it can help some of you too. As an older millennial, I remember a time without cellphones and the internet. Back then, you had to go to a library to do research from encyclopedias (which were giant knowledge books that provided information on anything and everything, similar to Wikipedia but on paper). Nowadays, most of us have a constant need to check our phones, whether it be for work, social media, or simply to pass the time. But this constant need to be connected can harm our productivity.

We all know how constant distraction affects our productivity, but we feel like slaves to our phones. The urge to look at every notification and the pressure to respond quickly consume valuable time and lead to decreased focus and higher stress levels. We’re also aware of the harmful effects of blue light emitted from our devices that can disrupt our sleep patterns, leading to fatigue and decreased productivity the next day. Yet, we continue to be more dependent on our devices.

So, how can we combat this? I took some of Cal’s tips and created my own rules that have helped me tremendously:

• Set specific times for checking your phone. Decide on certain times during the day when you will check your phone for messages and notifications and stick to that schedule. This can help you avoid constant distraction from your device and maintain focus on your work. I’ve informed all my friends and family that I only check my text messages a couple of times a day, so they know I’m not ignoring them, and they might receive delayed responses.

• Turn off notifications for non-essential apps. Focus on what’s most important and turn off notifications for apps that aren’t mission-critical (which is basically all apps except your calendar).

• Use apps to help you focus. There are many apps available that help you stay focused and limit distractions. iPhone users can set up their screen time settings, which includes a Focus setting for work. It won’t send you any notifications for texts, etc., and you can set it up to allow phone calls to come through. There are also apps that provide background music designed to improve concentration, but I find music to be a distraction, so I don’t use them.

• Take regular breaks from your devices. Spending long hours looking at a screen can be mentally draining. It’s important to take regular breaks, whether it’s a quick walk, meditation, or simply putting your phone down in another room. I like to take walks without my phone, so I can embrace solitude. I feel like we no longer spend time with our own thoughts, and you can’t be creative if you’re constantly dependent on technology to give you all the answers.

• Unsubscribe from unnecessary emails and notifications. Cut down on digital clutter in your life by unsubscribing from emails and notifications that you don’t need or want. This can help you focus on the most important tasks at hand. There are apps and tools that can help you achieve this. I also went a step further and deleted email from my phone (both personal and work). I check my personal email twice a day on my computer and my work email 4-5 times during work hours. You might think that’s a lot, but before this, I was checking my phone more than 70-80 times a day, so it’s a big improvement.

By following these tips, you can start practicing digital minimalism and reduce the constant need to check your phone. This can help you be more productive, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being. So, why not give it a try?

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