I took an unintentional digital detox during a recent stay in Budapest. I had misplaced my phone during a brief visit in NYC, and my departing flight the next morning meant I wouldn’t be seeing my iPhone for a long, long time. I decided to treat it like a detox but had only really considered it in the social media/work after hours aspect. Here’s what I learned from five weeks with no phone, maybe you’ll be inspired to do the same!
OMG, IT’S LIKE THE Y2K crash all over again! But seriously, get an alarm clock. Not ever knowing what time it was combined with some serious jet lag made for a pretty interesting health coaching experience. The upside is that I learned how much I like to take my time in the morning, and was able to redesign my schedule in a better way. I bought some disposable cameras, but I really needed a compass, map, and a calendar. Especially in Eastern Europe where everything is charming, winding, nameless streets. I can’t tell you how many times I took a cab only to find I was right around the corner.
Grab a Journal
You’ll be surprised at how much information your phone is holding for you. I made the mistake of not writing down all my Airbnb information and it took some creativity with internet cafes to locate the email with the information. Even if you’re in your home country, you’ll want a place to jot down all those genius ideas you’ll have when you’re not being sucked into a black hole on the internet. From what I see with my clients, a journal works best if you have it with you as much as possible.
As much as we’d all love to be writing our morning pages at 8:30 AM, that’s not how it works for everyone. If you have it with you, you’ll come to rely on it as therapy and the best way of committing something to memory. A digital detox is a great way to start, strengthen, or rekindle your romance with journaling. If meditation is something you’ve been meaning to try, it’s a lot easier to hit the breath first thing in the morning when you’re not cracking your eyes open for the first time of the day and going straight into your emails.
Disconnect to Connect
I listen to podcasts as much as I possibly can, and as a result, I’m less connected to what’s going on around me. I met so many new friends that I would have never met otherwise. In NYC your earbuds are a great way to create personal space but I got addicted to the constant soundtrack! By trying to eclipse the sounds I didn’t like, I lost a lot of the subtle ones I really loved too, especially nature sounds. I would defer to my phone as entertainment in cafes or bars, but without it, I got to experience what people actually went to these places for originally, which is socializing! Remember that?
Arrive On Time
Are you always running late? A digital detox will snap you right out of that. You’re going to have to actually make plans with people and show up old-school style. If you’re running late, you can't let them know. If you’re at the spot and they’re not there you’re going to sit there and wait. If they showed up and left already, you’re going to learn how much you respect punctuality in yourself and others! You may have gotten by always being “ten” minutes late to things before, but when you’re detoxing you’ll have no other choice but to learn how to arrive on time. The habit will stick if you allow it to, and next thing you know you’re feeling awesome because you’re five minutes early to everything now.
Work When You Work and Play While You Play
My business is my baby, and I felt chained to my laptop well outside of work hours because I was waiting on an email or just “finishing up” one more mammoth project. I didn’t realize how much I was working until I did it all from one location (my laptop) and counted up the hours. Work boundaries are so important. Work could not begin until I opened up my computer. I learned how to calm down, be more organized with clear business hours. The long term effects of this have had a profound effect on the success of my business and my happiness as an entrepreneur.
Written by Holly Allison
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