As human beings, we’re wired to want everything now, which is terrible for both our finances and productivity.
That’s why we spend so much of our lives in the digital universe.
Stop Distracting Yourself With Social Media
Imagine a boring minute at work or sitting on the couch when you come home. What are the first things you do?
- Check Twitter to see if any funny tweets came up
- Scroll through FaceBook’s news feeds to check if there is any exciting news
- Look at the endless Instagram pictures
- Watch for interesting new shows on Hulu or Netflix (You’ve cancelled cable already right?!)
- Read random Reddit threads
- Indulge in new YouTube videos
And obviously check your number of likes on each platform.
Your Time Is Valuable – Treat It As Such
Your time is MONEY — you could be spending this time side hustling so that you can create your own basic income before it is too late, working on your skills to further your career, or just spending more time with family and friends. Ironically, the very social media that is designed to connect us, takes us even further from one another.
In 2017, the average person spent 3 hours and 17 minutes on their phone each day and watched TV for an average of four hours.
That’s insane if you think about how people usually spend ~10 hours at work each day (8 hour workday, 1 hour lunch break, 1 hour commute). We’re basically spending a ton (mostly all?) of our free time consuming mind-numbing social media and television.
Detoxes Are Popular, Why Not A Digital Detox Challenge?
The purpose of this 30 day detox isn’t to never ever touch social media or watch television again. It’s to reset your body to a new normal for social media. It’s to get away from that craving of having something to distract you from real life or mindlessly scroll through feeds. Most research says it takes 28 days to break a habit, so you should have reset your craving for digital products in that time. Still feeling a digital itch at the end? Do one more cycle of a 30 day challenge.
Much like people do juice cleanses, alcohol detoxes, or scramble to lose weight in time for the summer season. Try doing a digital detox once per year to get your productivity and life back. I’ve also created a 30 day no-spend challenge here as well.
If you do feel the craving to check your phone or turn on your TV, ask yourself the below questions:
- Is it really necessary to check social media at this time (are you waiting on an urgent response from someone)? Check it once a day if you are truly worried about missing something important.
- Why are you turning on the TV or going to Hulu/Netflix? Force of habit? Because you’re bored? Vegging out? Understand your emotion and figure out how to quash it.
- Is there something I can replace this urge with? Some deep breathing, taking a short walk, etc?
Digital Detox In Spoken Word
This poignant spoken poetry video describes why we need a digital detox so very well. Watch!
Our Attention Span Sucks Because Of Our Love Of Instant Gratification
Our attention span has gotten so much slower in the past few decades. It has gotten progressively worse as well in just the past few years. Escaping digital media will correct that slower attention span, but we should also practice mindfulness in order to be more present.
If you want, you can try out the Headspace app (first pack of lessons are free) or Calm app. It’s surprisingly difficult to listen to someone telling you to breathe in and out and be present for 10-30 minutes at a time. After a while, it feels sort of like a massage for your brain.
Track your urges. In the #30daydigitaldetox printable below you can track the number of times you have urges to check social media or just tune in to some show and be distracted. Why is this helpful? You’ll be able to see your urges go down as the days go by and realize that you can do this challenge, easily. Each time have an urge to check digital media, tally up your urges. Think about why you pulled out your phone or typed in Netflix/Hulu. Force of habit? Or you truly are checking something interesting and indulging in TV?
The Power Of Habit — Understand Your Cues To Change Your Routines
In the Power of Habit, researchers hit on what makes a habit. Researchers put a lever in a monkey’s cage and dispense a drop of sugar water every time the monkey pushes the lever. The monkey is soon conditioned to push the lever just for that sugar water — you could call the monkey a sugar addict. What happens if the researches make it so that sugar water doesn’t come out unless you pull the lever twice? The monkey would still do the extra work. They’re addicted. So are you.
Are you seeing cues because you’re bored? Anxious? Sad? Instead of ignoring those emotions by finding something else to do, confront those emotions and do something about it. If you keep pushing back your feelings, you’ll have a backlog of them eventually, and it’ll be incredibly hard to deal with.
Just like pushing back small chores leads to a giant pile-up at the end, so does pushing back emotions.
Stop Keeping Up With The Jonses By Chasing Likes and Retweets
Social media has become a giant popularity contest, with people trying to get the most retweets, likes, comments, etc. It’s become a influencing factor in if you’re trying to keep up with the Jonses or not. I feel like every new purchase ends up on social media with people craving likes. No one’s life is that perfect, stop feeling bad over it. Stop comparing yourself to other people.
Other benefits for quitting social media:
- You’ll get over FOMO. Think of the hundreds of hours a year you’re spending scrolling through feeds. If you miss a few things, it’ll really be ok. I swear.
- You’re doing it for the likes, retweets, and fame. Not for connecting to another human being.
- You’re time is money. Get that money by side hustling or putting in time for a raise or promotion.
Why Is Social Media So Addicting?
Your brain currently views social media as an addiction. The big tech corporations have teams of Phd-level scientists trying to figure out one thing — how to keep you on the social media app or watching that extra episode of TV just a while longer. Once they can get you on the app, they can figure out how to get you on that dopamine high when you post gets liked or status is retweeted, so you keep coming back for more.
In this detox, we’re not going cold turkey. We’re turning up the social media detox one dial at a time. Studies have shown that if you reduce your addiction in baby steps, you’ll be more likely to finish your detox. That’s because there’s a certain amount of willpower you have each day. Your willpower muscle gets weaker the further you go on throughout the day due to stress at work, being productive all day, ignoring the bad things you could’ve done (friend brought in delicious friend chicken? It takes willpower to not eat that! Boss got angry? So much willpower not to raise your voice in anger!), etc.
We’re doing to start the detox in 2 hour digital-free increments. Why? When you’re at work there is less free time for you to get bored or emotional, so you won’t have as many triggers as come nightfall. Once we reach sunset, we’ll move the goalpost 1 more hour at a time, until you can finally go a day without digital media. There are also “cheat days” in there once a week — prolonged willpower needs a break as well, so you can cement that new habit of digital detox in.
Give the digital detox challenge a try with the free printable above. Comment below what you think and use #30daydigitaldetox and tell your stories!