This past summer we purchased a new RV.
We were first introduced to camping (or glamping as my wife calls it) nearly six years ago and have been hooked ever since. In addition to the fun with friends and the chance for our boys to learn about exploring nature, there is one reason why I truly enjoy camping: There is no cell reception.
That’s right, I’m admitting that I have a difficult time putting down my cellphone unless forced to do so, like when we’re camping.
It would seem I’m not alone.
A recent survey published by reviews.org identified that on average we check our cellphones 262 times per day, or once every 5.5 minutes.
For this reason, digital detoxes have become a thing. Just scroll through your Facebook or LinkedIn stream and you’re bound to find at least one person talking about having taken a digital detox, or the benefits associated with doing so.
But is a detox effective? Better yet, if you’re a business owner, entrepreneur, or sales professional and your phone represents a lifeline to customers or clients, do you really need to put down your phone for an extended period to receive the positive benefits of a full digital detox?
A recent study titled “Digital detox: An effective solution in the smartphone era?” suggests a full-on digital detox might not be necessary. Specifically, they noted:
“The effects from digital detox interventions varied across studies on health and well-being, social relationships, self-control, or performance. For example, some studies found positive intervention effects, whereas others found no effect or even negative consequences for well-being.”
In plain terms, the study found that a digital detox may not always provide the benefits one might expect. Moreover, the benefits are likely to differ for each person. So, although you may find the detox allows you more time with family, someone else may find no real benefits to engaging in a detox.
These findings shouldn’t come as a surprise as detoxifying from anything isn’t easy.
Downing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to detox your digestive system can create an upset stomach for some. Still others may find that meditation, meant to detoxify their brain, may not provide any real benefits (I personally fall asleep every time I attempt meditation. Maybe that’s a good thing?)
Fortunately, there are other less intrusive options to step away from technology and take what I like to refer to as a digital holiday.
For example, I try to set my phone down at least one hour before bed each night, a tip I learned from Craig Ballantyne, author of The Perfect Day Formula.
I’ll admit that sometimes the habit is hard to break, but when I do put my phone down at least one hour before bed, I tend to have a sounder sleep.
Here are some other ideas that you might try to develop your own digital break:
- Limit the use of your phone, laptop, or iPad on weekends to one hour per day.
- If you use your phone as an alarm clock, replace it with an alarm clock.
- Pick up a physical book to read rather than buy one on your Kindle.
- Leave your phone at home when you go to a gathering with family or friends.
- Replace some of your Netflix time with a board game (our favorite is Monopoly).
- Make a rule—no cellphones at the dinner table—then follow it.
As we’ve experimented with digital holidays, the greatest challenge is not in introducing the idea, but in finding something interesting to replace what would typically be “scroll time.”
Here’s the reality: Being tied to our phones isn’t a good thing. Sure, we can stay up to date on work emails and like and share images with friends, but there is nothing that beats an actual conversation or time spent with family around the dinner table.
Don’t stress over resolving to take a digital detox. Instead, introduce something more manageable (and less overwhelming) like a digital holiday. Pick two or three items from my list above and implement them. Better yet, what ideas do you have to take some much-needed time away from technology that you can redirect into an old hobby or to catch up with a friend?
Take some time to develop your own digital holiday this year. You’ll be glad you did.
Shawn Casemore is a speaker and facilitator who works with entrepreneurs and business leaders to align their teams, “wow” their customers, and grow their businesses.