Today it’s the digital wellbeing awareness day, techtimeout tuesday, and hundreds of organisations and thousands of individuals are taking part.
Together we’re highlighting the negative impact that technology over-use and over-reliance can have; from symptoms relating to mental health like stress, overwhelm and anxiety to physical ailments such as eye strain and neck pain.
More positively, we’re talking about the benefits that we see as a result of developing a healthy relationship with screens: better sleep, increased focus and a sense of calm, to name a few.
what is a healthy relationship with technology?
We believe it’s different for everyone. We love technology and the way it opens up opportunities and allows us to communicate and collaborate. But it’s easy to let it take over.
We know that physical movement, time outdoors, human connection and quality sleep are proven to benefit our health. Technology and our world of 24/7 digital connection can reduce the amount of time we spend doing these health-benefiting activities.
ask yourself these 3 questions…
- Do you feel like you spend too much time looking at screens?
- Do you struggle to switch off outside of your working hours?
- Do you experience any mental and physical symptoms associated with high screen-time?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then it might be a good time for you to start making positive changes. Of course there may be other factors influencing your mental health and sleep but introducing good technology habits is a great thing to do.
our smartphones are designed to be addictive.
This is why we’re sharing our top tips to make your phone less interesting. Action this advice to help you maximise your time and minimise your screen time.
1. update your lock screen
Make it as boring as possible. This could be a blank screen or why not add a prompt to remind you to “PUT THE PHONE DOWN”.
Research estimates that we check our phones an average of 58 times every day. You can check the number of times you check your phone in the device settings. How many of these pickups are deliberate? How many are out of habit?
We’ve created a phone wallpaper to remind you to stop looking at your phone and instead look up and around. Looking away from your screens at regular intervals is shown to benefit your eye health.
2. turn phone to grayscale
As we said before, technology is designed to be addictive. It hijacks our attention and keeps us hooked. A former Design Ethicist at Google compared the lure of your phone to that of a slot machine; lots of bright colours and flashing lights.
One of the ways that you can beat the system is to change your phone to grayscale. It makes your phone harder to navigate as it stops you from operating your phone in auto-pilot and instead makes your use more deliberate.
On iPhone go to Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Color Filters and tap on the toggle to turn it on and select Grayscale.
On Android phones go to Settings > Accessibility > Text & Display and tap Color Correction and select Grayscale.
3. become a time blocking pro
Not all days go to plan but starting with a plan makes you more likely to achieve what you need to do each day.
We quite often schedule meetings but forget to schedule downtime. Your diary can then turn into a game of tetris where you fill every available gap. This means no time for a cup of tea or a toilet break let alone some physical movement and time to think. We asked the team for their top time management tips:
- If you have control over your work diary, schedule meetings for 20 or 50 minutes as opposed to 30 or 60 minutes. This gives you time for a quick break or allows for greater leeway when things run over or don’t go to plan.
- Schedule in a phone-free 30-60 minutes either first thing in the morning and/or last thing at night.
- Add in focus time to get tasks done. Practise the pomodoro productivity method and speed through your tasks without interruption.
- Don’t let your email take over the whole day. Set aside time for reading and responding to emails. Doing it in blocks can be much more time efficient.
- Diarise your hobbies and rest. At first this can feel like it removes spontaneity but adding these to your diary can help make your screen-free hobbies a non-negotiable part of your routine.
4. use your tech to set boundaries
Both iPhone and Android devices have ways to manage your screen-time. You can set up different modes for work and personal time or set time limits on certain apps. These tools can help you take control of your time when work/life boundaries are typically blurred.
The sleep mode is particularly useful. Checking your phone at night can have a terrible effect on your sleep quality. The blue light emitted from your devices is proven to impact your sleep cycle while checking your email or reading a news story can spike your cortisol levels (your stress hormone) and make it impossible to fall back to sleep.
5. remove the apps that distract you
If focus modes and boundaries that you can override don’t work for you then deleting unnecessary apps is definitely the way forward. Our Marketing Director, Kate, recently took the plunge and deleted Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn off her phone. She said:
“Time limits and rules didn’t work for me, I just used to bypass the reminders. Instead, I deleted the social media apps off my phone as I felt there were better ways to spend my downtime.
Deleting them instantly removed the urge to visit the apps. It made me realise I wasn’t checking them deliberately, I was just doing it out of habit whilst being drawn in by the logos.
I still check my accounts on my laptop and I do download the apps every now and again but I go on social media much less now and I feel a lot better for it”
6. turn off your notifications
Decide what notifications you really need. In the techtimeout team, most of us have all of our notifications off except for phone calls and messages. This means our WhatsApp and Social Media alerts are off.
With your notifications off, you choose when you check them. You won’t miss anything; you can still check your phone as much as you want. Take control of your time instead of letting digital distractions get in the way.
now, go and take a techtimeout!
Taking a break can feel counterproductive when you’ve got a lot on your to-do list but short, frequent breaks really are brilliant to refresh your mind and keep you feeling balanced, calm and working productively.