Being tethered to your smartphone is now a standard part of modern life, an umbilical dependancy that lights up the faces of strangers on every walk home from work. The parameters of the relationship are clear, the smartphone is the boss, and always strives to remind us of how much we need it - haunting us with nightmares of disappearing battery or dwindling signal, missing a meeting because of a frozen map or the indignity of waiting for people in a bar but with no phone as comfort blanket.
Embarking on a Digital Detox is a way to break this cycle of dependancy by curtailing your smartphone’s dominance in your life, by reducing or eliminating your access to the device you can find calmness of mind and make bold steps to redress your work / life balance. When I started my own Digital Detox I had no idea to what extent my phone had got its tentacles into my life, and how hard it would fight against its removal - so here’s some advice from the front line on how to succeed.
Have A Plan And Stick To It
It’s really important to manage your expectations by setting out right at the start what you want to achieve and the sacrifices you’re prepared to make to get there. Will you go all in and completely ditch your smartphone or keep it purely for business hours and then be happy to relax at night without being harried by WhatsApp, Facebook and emails? A clear plan of action is an essential weapon against being tempted back to the dark side when you just want to quickly check ASOS at midnight in bed.
Say Hello To Your New Old Friend
The moment you decide to take time out from your smartphone you suddenly realise how institutionalised the whole relationship has become - it’s incredibly difficult to downgrade! The modern move towards smaller SIM cards means that excavating your trusty old Motorola flip phone from the ‘wires drawer’ in the kitchen might not be the answer. Thankfully companies like Nokia have acknowledged this nostalgia for simpler times and are starting to release old school phones re-booted for modern times (eg. the 3310).
Brace Yourself To feel ‘Out Of The Loop’
These days everyone’s social lives are organised through a myriad of group chats across platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The biggest shock when I started my Digital Detox was discovering that I could no longer be part of a text group chat and that retro phones don’t pick up iMessages from iPhone users. The secret silver lining to this cloud is that once people realise what you’re doing they do make an extra effort to contact you directly, so you might miss out on the initial plans for a weekend away but at least you wont get your bedroom lit up at 1am as two of your drunk friends send each other cat videos.
Draw a Map!
I took for granted how easy it was to dive out of the office and race to an appointment, allowing myself to be guided there by an app on my phone. There are no such luxuries in a Digital Detox, so leave yourself a little more time to get there and check out Google Maps before you depart. I found that there was something exhilaratingly old school about taking a hand drawn map with me into central London, I felt like an urban St. Ranulph Fiennes.
To me the Digital Detox was a blissful technological emancipation - as I walked down the street with my head up taking in the world around me amongst a sea of faces fixated with screens, I suddenly felt liberated. I started reading on the tube rather than scrolling through Facebook nonsense, and I slept better at night as I wasn’t responding to tweets. I couldn’t send any shirty replies to work e-mails because I’d cooled down by the time I could respond. So I wish you the best of luck as your start this journey, it’s a rollercoaster but you’ll be better for it.
Andy Bush hosts the afternoon slot on Absolute Radio and has interviewed the likes of Noel Gallagher, Zac Effron and even Nick Clegg. He can be heard on Absolute Radio from 1pm-4pm Monday to Friday.