Written by: Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA, Anna Simon, BS

Our phones are an addiction. The average American checks their phone every 12 minutes, with usage totaling over three hours per day according to these stats. Imagine what you could accomplish with 3+ extra hours in your day: three more hours reading a book, or honing a skill, or learning something new, or getting more sleep. It may seem impossible to give up your phone, but these tips will help you wean yourself off of technology:

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Optimize your phone settings (for iPhone)

  • Use the Screen Time settings to limit apps and monitor how much time you use your phone daily
    • When setting time limits for apps, start off with a conservative amount of time and then slowly decrease your allotted time.
  • Set up Night Shift
    • Choose a time window during which your phone gives off warmer tones instead of blue light.
  • Set up a Do Not Disturb window during the hours you normally sleep
    • When Bedtime is enabled, the lock screen will dim, calls will be silenced, and notifications will appear in the notification center until your scheduled Do Not Disturb ends.
    • There are also a bunch of other features to toggle with!
  • Turn your phone grayscale
    • The bright colors of apps and notifications make them more addictive. Here’s how to make your phone go grayscale:
    • Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Accessibility Shortcut > Color Filters
      • Now, when you triple-click the home (or side) button, click on color filters to turn grayscale on or off.
  • Put your phone on silent and turn off vibrations
    • Or mute unnecessary notifications such as social media, games, and any other unproductive apps.
    • Even better, disable all notifications.
  • Unsubscribe from email subscriptions
    • Keep your inbox clean by unsubscribing to all unnecessary emails from companies trying to get us to buy their products.
  • Move all your apps to the second screen
    • This makes going to an app a conscious choice and prevents you from scrolling social media just because the app is in front of your face.
  • Unfriend people on social media
    • Don’t feel guilty for unfriending/unfollowing people on social media. Your feed should only consist of people whose posts bring positivity or value into your life.

Schedule detox time

  • Schedule one hour a day (or even an entire day if you’re brave) of no electronics whatsoever
    • Ideas for alternative activities include:
      • Go for a walk
      • Read a book (on paper, no electronics!)
      • Journal or write
      • Meditate
      • Take a bath
      • Cook a meal
      • Talk to a friend in person

Create healthy habits

  • Don’t touch your phone first thing in the morning or at night before bed
  • Journal every time you feel the urge to pick up your phone and how being away from electronics makes you feel
  • Put phones away at mealtime
  • Don’t use your phone while walking on the street
  • Try ”clearing to neutral:” delete all tabs and log out when you’re finished using a device
  • Check out this cool infographic on how to unplug

Find a detox buddy

Accountability is a good tool to help you stick to your goals. Find someone to digital detox with or tell your friends to help keep you accountable.

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Try a detox challenge

There are a bunch of detox challenges popping up on the Internet. I found this challenge that I think covers a lot of manageable as well as more challenging, ways to cut down on electronics. My favorite mini-challenges include:

  1. Refrain from using your device the first hour after you wake up and the hour before you go to bed
  2. Turn off all notifications
  3. Don’t use your phone (at all!) when around other people
  4. Set aside an hour free from all electronics
  5. Keep a journal of all the times you felt an impulse to pull out your phone
  6. Only go on social media twice a day
  7. Do a spring cleaning of your social media apps, deleting people who don’t positively impact your life

Have you tried a digital detox? Let us know your experience and/or your best tips for using less technology in the comments!

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