We are so heavily reliant on technology, we are finding it hard to switch it off. We have become pre-programmed to turn to our screens for everything. At work, we stare endlessly at our screens for almost the entire day. Outside of work, we use our devices to keep informed about news, the weather, where to go for the cheapest fuel, researching recipes, or what events are on this weekend. We use our devices to keep in touch with friends and family throughout the day, with many using social media and messaging, so conversations are on screen and we find ourselves constantly checking for updates. After a long day, and especially in winter, it’s so easy to hibernate indoors and turn on the TV or one of our devices for instant entertainment. With Netflix, Stan, YouTube and so many other on-demand options we have available to access the latest movies, series, and videos, it’s easy to binge-watch hours of our free time away.
Switching off might be harder than we expected. We have come to be so reliant on our devices, we fear that we will be lost without them. First of all, it’s important to acknowledge that there certainly are positives – most notably how much technology helps us make many tasks so much easier, such as work and researching information, keeping in touch or even being able to book and purchase products and services online. However, as with everything, we need to find a balance and ensure that we are not having too much of a good thing. Here are some tips for switching off and finding time for other things:
Turn off all notifications, except those from people
Notifications can be helpful when they let you know something important needs your attention, like a text from your kid or an email from your boss. But most notifications are sent by machines, not people. And they’re designed to draw you into interacting with an app you might not otherwise prioritize. Go to your phone’s settings (on iPhones, it’s Settings > Notifications) to turn off everything except messaging apps or other crucial tools.
All those colorful apps? They’re designed to trigger your brain’s reward system and make you feel good. If you want to check your phone less, cutting off this trigger may help. It won’t be easy, though. We’re pretty hooked on all those flashy colors. But most phones let you choose muted colors. On iPhones, you can go full grayscale. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Display Accommodations. Turn on Color Filters, and set it to “Grayscale.”
Limit what’s on your home screen
Keep only your email, maps, calendar, and whatever else you use daily front and center. Put all those other apps—from games to recipes—into folders or move to the second or third screens. If you don’t see them right away, you’ll be less likely to use them.
Type to find apps
Tapping is so easy! It’s easy enough that we do it without even thinking sometimes. But if you need to take the time to type the name of the app, it gives your brain a second to consider whether you really need to play another game of Candy Crush.