Cast your mind back to 2007. It was the year of early viral sensation “Charlie Bit My Finger“. It was three years before Instagram launched. Facebook had about 50 million users, whereas now it boasts over 2.3 billion. It was also the year the iPhone launched, and the year I built my very first website.
A lot has changed since then. When you think specifically about the advances in technology, it will come as no surprise to you that we now spend twice as much time on the internet. Ofcom research shows the average adult internet user now spends around 24 hours a week online, compared to 12 hours six minutes in 2007.
And while there’s no denying the internet and rapid advancements in technology have made our lives better in many ways, the research also shows that overuse can have a negative effect on personal relationships.
What about a digital detox?
Many people see the solution to this as having a digital detox, with previous research by Ofcom showing around a third of people have taken time off from using the internet. About a quarter of their sample had gone internet-free for a day, with a fifth taking a week off and one in 20 not going online for a month.
Whether you want to go to those extremes or simply cut back on the amount of time you spend online, I’ve put together some digital detox tips that have helped me.
Tame your email inbox
- Unsubscribe from any email newsletters you’re not interested in.
- I don’t check work emails in the evening or on weekends. Have separate email accounts for personal and work emails, so you can check any personal things without worrying about what’s in your work inbox.
- Organise your emails into folders so when you open your inbox you’re only having to process what’s new and you don’t get distracted by everything else.
- For work emails, I have a folder for each client along with an ‘Inactive’ folder to drag in any of those folders from people I haven’t heard from in a while.
- Delete anything that’s not important rather than let it sit and clog up your inbox.
Reduce your time on social media
If you use social media for marketing it can be all too easy to get distracted by what everyone else is posting rather than getting your own messages out.
- Make use of scheduling tools such as TweetDeck for Twitter and Later for Instagram so you can compose your posts away from the apps themselves.
- The extra benefit is that you can spend a single chunk of time writing a week’s worth of posts and then let them go out at the scheduled time. Batching work like this is far more time-efficient.
- Social media apps are designed to be addictive, so if you’re trying to reduce your time on them it makes sense to make it harder to access them.
- Log out of your accounts after you’ve used them and don’t save your login details in your browser so you have to manually type it in easy time you want to login.
Spend less time on your Smartphone
- Turn off all notifications.
- Tidy up your home screen and make the addictive stuff harder to get to. Stuff your social media apps away in folders so you have to make a conscious effort to open them up (or you could delete them completely!).
- Turn on a password.
- Get an actual alarm clock (remember those?) so you can leave your phone in another room when you go to bed.
- Download a usage tracker app (I have Usage Time, but there are loads available) so you’re fully aware of how much time you spend on your phone each day.
Have you got any tips to share? Let me know on Twitter what works for you and I’ll update the post with your suggestions.