While this topic is highly problematic for me, I've taken steps to improve. Is disconnecting from technology difficult for you?
Article by Benjamin Hardy on Medium.com
2. Recover From Technology
In our technology-overwhelmed world, the only way to properly recover from work is to set healthy boundaries on your technology.
For instance, a recent study found that constant smartphone use stops people from properly recovering from work (and life). In a sense, people are always “on” to distraction and connection. They never disconnect. Most people keep their smartphones on them constantly, and admit to experiencing withdrawals if they don’t have their smartphone for more than a few hours.
In the study, the experimental group, who became more conscious of their smartphone use, and took adequate breaks from it, were able to experience psychological detachment from work, relaxation, and mastery.
Smartphone addiction is reflected in impulsive behavior, withdrawals, and impaired functioning.
One study found that the average person checks their smartphone over 85 times per day, and spends more than five hours browsing the web and using apps. Hilariously, people check their phones more than twice as much as they think they do. Thus, more often than not, people are unconsciously triggered to check their smartphones.
This lack of consciousness if reflected in all other areas of most people’s lives — as we are holistic systems. No one component of your life can be viewed in isolation. If you spend several hours unconsciously using technology, how could you expect to be fully engaged in your work and relationships?
Here are some of the outcomes of unhealthy smartphone use:
- Increased depression, anxiety, and “daytime dysfunction”
- Decreased sleep quality
- Decreased psychological and emotional well-being
- Decreased emotional intelligence (this study also found that if parents are reflective and thoughtful about smartphone use, their children experience less detrimental effects)
- Increased stress (which lowers life satisfaction) and decreased academic performance (which lowers life satisfaction) among students
One study found negative effects of using laptops and cellphones within 1–2 hours of going to sleep. Specifically, the study found that individuals who stopped staring at screens 1–2 hours before sleep:
- Experienced substantially higher sleep quality and less sleep “disturbances”
- Increased ability to maintain enthusiasm to get things done while working
The authors/researchers of the study concluded simply by saying “We should restrict the use of mobiles and laptops before sleep for sound mind and good health.”
According to Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of,You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work, highly successful people such as former US President Barack Obama and Bill Gates are known to read for at least a half hour before bed. According to Kerr, the last thing most successful people do before bed is work (often displayed by checking email).
Interestingly, other research has found that if you associate your bed with work, it’ll be harder to relax there. In order to sleep well, keep your bedroom as a place for sleep.
The triggers in your environment directly influence your behavior. If you have a TV in your bedroom, your sleep will suffer. If you use your smartphone before bed, your sleep will suffer. If you check your smartphone immediately upon waking up, your engagement in the rest of your day will suffer.
Like work, proper boundaries must be set on technology, particularly smartphones if you want to live an optimal life. You need to recover from your technology and smartphones.
Rather than checking your smartphone, do something productive with your morning, which for most people is the best time for creative output and learning.
Many of the world’s most successful people avoid checking their cellphone, email, or social media for several hours after they’ve woken up. Instead, they engage in creative work, physical exercise, strategic planning and goal setting, and spending time with loved ones.
Furthermore, boundaries on technology should happen after work as well. If you have your smartphone on your person, you’ll unconsciously check it, even if you have the best of intentions. The unhealthy triggers are too strong.
Instead, recover from your technology. Set a time at night when you’re done with your smartphone, social media, and email. Create other boundaries on technology so you can more deeply engage in your relationships and other areas of life in the real world.
Here’s some solid benchmarks which you can use to adjust your usage:
- Best practice to avoid technology for the first 30–60 minutes of waking
- Best practice to avoid mindless internet use as well as email and social media (i.e., inputs) for first 2–4 hours of waking
- Best practice to avoid smartphone use and internet for 1–2 hours before sleep
- Best practice to keep your smartphone away from your person when you’re with other people (leave it in your car, at home, or in a different room)
Get in the habit of not always having your cellphone with you, especially while you’re at home with your family. Very few people experience the gift of your full and uninhibited attention. Give them that gift. Keep your smartphone away from yourself as much as you possibly can. Your whole life will get better.
Is disconnecting from technology difficult for you?