I’ve been on a digital detox for 30 days and it’s been WONDERFUL. It wasn’t without its challenges, but overall, the changes I made resulted in less stress and more peace, so I’ve decided to do it for another 30 days.
Here are the goals I set 30 days ago and how each one turned out.
1. DECREASE SOCIAL MEDIA by spending 5 minutes or less on it per day. All social media will be conducted on my computer. Apps have been deleted from my phone. 5 minutes? Ha! It was more like five to six times that amount. I found that I like to spend about 30 minutes on Twitter each day and only a few minutes per week on LinkedIn. I did stick with doing social media only on my laptop, but I also did it on my tablet. I’ve kept the apps deleted from my phone. For the next 30 days, I’ll keep social media to 30 minutes per day MAX and will keep accessing it just on my laptop and tablet, not my phone.
2. DECREASE EMAIL TIME by spending 25 minutes or less on it per day. Only check email after I’ve finished my writing and other important brain work and don’t check it again for the rest of the day. All emails will be done on my computer or tablet. Email has been deleted from my phone. This was hard. I couldn’t make myself stick to checking email only once a day. In fact, I realized over the last 30 days that I check my email like 5-10 times each day! Checking email this much definitely leads to more stress and annoyance for me, so I want to set a new goal that’s more than once but less than 5-10 times a day. For the next 30 days, I’ll check my email 3 times a day MAX: once in the morning before I start important brain work (I like reading my emails first thing to see what I might want to respond to later), a second time near 3pm (to check for Plaid Frog Press orders that need to be mailed out), and then lastly at 5-6pm to respond to emails and shut emails down for the day.
3. DECREASE TIME ON MY iPHONE by turning off all notifications and reading texts only once per day. I will read all texts but responding is optional. I can choose to email or call people back rather than texting. This was the best change ever! Turing off notifications on my phone and reading and responding to texts once a day was a game-changer. My stress and annoyance levels went way down. Also, I gave myself permission to only respond to texts I wanted to respond to and it was absolutely freeing. Keeping this goal as is.
4. READ THE NEWS no more than once per day for 30 minutes or less. No prob. Turns out it’s easy for me to read the news less than 30 minutes per day and still feel up-to-date. Keeping this goal as is.
5. GAIN KNOWLEDGE AND RELAX by reading 2 hours or more per day. I love reading so this goal was easy to do. On the rare days when I didn’t get at least 2 hours of reading in, I’d feel irritable. It’s key to my self-care to spend a good amount of time reading every day. Keeping this goal as is.
6. GO FOR A WALK AND RELAX once per day (or more) for 40-60 minutes each time. Most days, I went for a walk and it felt good, but there were some days when my tums wasn’t feeling well so I’d skip it. Even though it was better for me to skip the walk due to not being able to be near a bathroom, I noticed on those days that I’d feel both tired and antsy. I’ve decided that on days like that, I’ll walk slowly up and down the stairs in my house and in the various rooms to get some exercise. With that added, I’m keeping this goal as is.
7. LEARN PORTUGUESE on Duolingo for 10 minutes per day. This is one app I’m allowing on my iPhone. Tudo bem! Yep, all is well with learning Portuguese. Sometimes I miss a day but it’s rare. My husband Marcus is learning the same language on Duolingo so it’s been fun. Keeping this goal as is.
8. DEEPEN CONNECTIONS by having a long chat with at least one friend per week. This ended up being easier to do because most of my friends have been sheltering-at-home due to the COIVD-19 pandemic. It’s been really nourishing to have a long chat with a friend at least once a week. Keeping this goal as is.
Little help here? Before, I said I’d use a timer, but actually, I haven’t been using one and I’m not sure if I will.
Most challenging change? I was right about #1 and #2 being the hardest ones to do consistently, but surprisingly, #3 was not hard to do once I got past the first week. I still think #1 and #2 will be challenging for the next 30 days.
Easiest change? I think #4-#8 will either continue to be easy and/or will be easier than they were during the first 30 days. I’m hoping that over the next 30 days, these five goals will feel like natural habits.
Most welcome change? Like I mentioned before, #3: spending less time on my iPhone and turning off text notifications, was a game-changer. I feel SO much better because of this change.
Most surprising change? I was surprised at how anxious or off I’d feel when I didn’t get two hours of reading in each day.
Once again, I have my work cut out for me. I’ll report back in a month and let you know how it went.
If this has peaked your interest in digital detoxes, check out Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport. It’s fascinating and helpful.
And, if you want to make changes to your digital life, or have made some changes already, post your thoughts below. I’m always looking for more ideas!
Peg Cheng is the author of Rebel Millionaire: Get Rich on Your Own Terms, a guide for how to retire as a millionaire even if you make a modest income. She is also the author of The Contenders; the creator of Fear & Writing, a workshop for procrastinating writers; and a career adviser combining the practical with the metaphysical.
Photo by Fuu J.