The first baby step in a Digital Detox is to find a room or a space in your house to create a phone-free environment. But if it’s a habit to use your phone in just about every area of your house or workspace you’ll have to go about this phone-ban systematically.
Choose one and only one space in your house for starters. If you pick too many spaces at once you’ll find it too hard to sustain your commitment. The bedroom is the most logical place to start especially since the medical community reminds us that cell-phone use before bed or first thing in the morning can be detrimental to our health and sleep patterns. But you don’t even have to start with a room; you could start by banning phones from the dinner table when your family is assembled together or simply from a “book nook” or any spot that has a special usage other than phone and screen time. Take a day to figure out which spot in the house you’ll use and then move on to….
Set yourself a visual reminder (or two). Put a post-it note on the bedroom door (I’m just going to assume you chose the bedroom) reminding yourself of the phone-ban. Write a follow up note to remind yourself in the morning, placing it in the bathroom or on your nightstand. Remember, habits are powerful so no matter how committed you are be prepared for some push-back from your muscle memory.
Fill the void. Keep in mind that using your phone was something that you were doing. Don’t expect to just twiddle your thumbs until the “ban” is up. Supply yourself with something else to do: put a couple of magazines on your nightstand, find a good book, write that “thank you” card that you’ve been meaning to send for months, or page through that cookbook with all the cool pictures that you’d forgotten about ever since Pinterest was invented. No one will laugh if you go back to coloring like you did when you were a kid…and people will be seriously impressed if you go back to cross-stitch like you did in your teens.
Gather the supplies. To ensure success you’ll have to make sure that you have the proper supplies for the detox. For instance, if you’ve chosen the bedroom you might need to find an alarm clock; if you’ve chosen your exercise space you might need to find a timer; if you’re used to making notes on your phone you might need to have a notepad and pen in the banned territory. Whatever supplies you need don’t freak out and don’t skimp. Give yourself the necessary articles to complete the detox. (More on that in an upcoming article.)
Make note of your progress. Keep track of your feelings and behaviors during this first detox experiment. You can write a line or two in a journal, or tell your friends or family how you’re feeling, or even whip out your phone (just not in the banned territory) and record a voice memo describing how the detox is feeling to you. Just remember that any observation you make is worth journaling, talking or ranting about.
Bonus Step: Give yourself a timeline for this first digital detox; assess your progress after one week, after 21 days, or after 30 days. Whichever timeline you choose be mindful of it; the hardest journey to make is the one that doesn’t end, so set yourself an end date to celebrate your progress. When you’ve reached that day you may decide to try a different angle on digital detox or you may spread your ban farther throughout your living spaces.