Day 10: Digital detox
How would you feel about a mini digital detox? Excited? Afraid? Wishful, but resigned to failure?
I want to challenge you to think about it, even if it's only for 24 hours. Imagine going digital-free on Christmas Day. Your focus would be on your loved ones and only your loved ones. Mindfulness is important on any day but, at Christmas in particular, our minds should truly be on the people we love.
Not only that, but turning off all the digital noise during Christmas will help create some peace and calm in your day.
All is calm, all is bright.
I'll be turning off all my devices on Christmas Eve, for the same reason. Here are some steps you can take, if you want to try with me.
The eight-step digital detox for Christmas
Don't worry. I'm going to let you keep your phone on. You want to be able to talk to your loved-ones at Christmas, and I think that's completely reasonable! But let's detox from online activity for the duration.
Step 1. To ease your mind, if you're nervous about not being contactable to friends or family over Christmas, email, phone or text them ahead of time to let them know that you'll be offline during the holiday, and give them your number so they can call you if they want to
Step 2. A day or two before you plan to switch off, email anyone else you think might be expecting to hear from you, letting them know that you'll be offline over Christmas
Step 3. When you're ready, open your email account and leave an "out of office" notification, telling people you'll be back checking emails after Christmas
Step 4. While you're there, and if you have time, consider cleaning up your email subscriptions to make your Inbox a nicer place to return to after Christmas. I use unroll.me to manage all my subscriptions, and to easily unsubscribe from any I don't want any more
Step 5. Log out of your email account. Shut it down. If you can, remove the icon for email from your computer dashboard or devices. The idea is to reduce the convenience of logging back in, so you'll be less likely to succumb to temptation
Step 6. Now it's time to tackle social media. First, if you're concerned you'll be missed (this is probably more the case if you manage professional profiles, such as business pages and groups on Facebook), update your status or leave a notification (pinned to stay at the top), sharing that you'll be away during Christmas and when you'll return. I suggest doing this about 24 hours before you decide to switch off, so people can get in touch with you for anything last-minute before you go
Step 7. Don't just turn off notifications, log out of your social media profiles on your computer, iPads and smartphones, completely. As with email, this helps remove the temptation to 'dip back in', because it's not as easy just to quickly check messages.
Step 8. In fact, I recommend going so far as to delete the apps from your devices. You won't lose any of your profile details, and you can always re-download them once your detox is over. Removing them from your phone not only removes the temptation, it also gives you a visual reminder that you're on a break. A sense of clarity and freedom.
Hopefully, this detox will make you feel good. Each time you reach for your 'phone, only to realise the apps are no longer there and email is turned off, use that sense of disorientation as a reminder to return your attention to what's going on around you in the real world. Every time you do this, it will get easier.
I'm only asking you to make a 24 hour detox, so you can be more present and mindful (and therefore calm and joyful) on Christmas Day. But you might decide you like this, and want it to last longer. Maybe you'll discover you have more time in your day. Or reignite your sense of play with your children. Or dive into that great book you've been too busy to read until now.
Here's another idea: what if, every time you think of someone and want to check up on what they're doing on social media... what if you were to sit down right then and there and write them a little letter or postcard? Just something simple: "I was thinking of you so I decided to write and tell you so. I hope you are well." Then when the post office reopens, buy some stamps and post your thoughts to your friends. I think that could be quite special.
What do you think of this digital detox idea? Could you do it? Will you give it a go? Let me know your thoughts by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.