In a world of digital devices and being constantly connected to the internet, we’re often told how beneficial it can be to have time away from these things.
I thought a complete break from the demands and distractions of emails, social media and screen time would offer a good opportunity to disconnect and unwind.
So, on a recent Saturday, I decided to try a self-imposed digital ban for a full 24 hours. That meant no mobile phone, no computers or tablets, no TV – basically, no screen time and no access to the internet.
I thought I’d share my findings with you, in case you’re thinking of giving it a go too.
Planning for the digital detox
I’ll preface this with a tip: plan for your digital detox.
I knew I had a completely free Saturday coming up and my husband was going to be out working all day, so I decided this would be a good time to do the detox.
I purposely did not fill the day with appointments or social engagements because I thought it might be hard to navigate these without a mobile phone.
As you won’t be able to waste away the day scrolling through Facebook on your phone or bingeing on the latest Netflix series, it’s important to plan how you will fill your day.
Saturday is usually my house chores day where I get all my cleaning done plus I always want to do more cooking, exercising and reading – all of these tasks aligned perfectly with the requirements of my experiment.
Finally, I let my parents and husband know in advance that I was doing the digital detox and that they would not be able to contact me for the 24-hour period.
Doing the digital detox
Friday night, 7pm – I got home from work, switched off my phone and began the digital detox. After having dinner, I did a facial before taking a shower and retreating to bed to get some solid reading time in. I finished the book by 9.30pm and felt relaxed enough to go to sleep. So I did.
Saturday, 7am – I woke naturally on Saturday morning at 7am (no phone alarm, remember?) after what felt like a very peaceful sleep. I filled my morning with house chores and cooked a fancy breakfast.
10am – I decided to find other cleaning jobs around the house that I never seem to have the ‘time’ to get around to. I sorted through several shelves and drawers that needed attention.
11.30am – I started a new book and did an hour of reading before moving on to baking some cookies and granola.
2pm – After an hour and a half in the kitchen, I’d had enough of baking. I made myself a light lunch and sipped on a cup of tea while writing in my journal. I journal from time to time, and given the task only requires pen and paper, it was perfect for the digital detox.
3pm – After what felt like a very slow morning, I was running out of things to do to fill my afternoon. It was at this point that I contemplated having an afternoon nap. I was bored and thought sleeping away the afternoon would help me to get through the detox. But I felt that would be cheating, so I soldiered on and did mat Pilates to include some exercise in the day.
4pm – Feeling thoroughly bored and having used up all my ideas for things to do that don’t involve digital devices, I spent the next couple of hours dipping in and out of my book and lounging about.
6pm – Hubby returned home after being out all day and I’ve never felt more grateful for some human interaction. I cooked dinner and we ate and chatted for a bit.
7pm – I’d made it to 24 hours without any digital devices or connection to the internet and was keen to continue through to the morning but I was dreading the thought of enduring a boring night. While I kept my phone switched off, I did engage in some screen time and we watched a movie on Netflix before getting another early night.
What did I learn?
While I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to my phone, I didn’t realise how much I relied on it. I recall wanting to use my phone several times throughout the detox for simple things like checking the time and looking at the weather forecast. I also found the day very quiet because I would usually have music or a podcast (also on my phone) on while I cook and clean. It was just me and my thoughts for the entire day.
The experience also highlighted how much time I spend (or waste) consuming digital media. Yes, I enjoy watching movies and scrolling through Instagram as a way to relax but I’ve come to realise that I need to cut back here.
I’m going to aim to reduce my screen time at night and put away my phone an hour before going to bed. Plus, no more whinging about never having time to do certain things – the time is there when you eliminate digital distractions.
I had big moments in my day where I was bored. In hindsight, making plans to meet friends or family for a coffee or lunch would’ve broken up the day nicely while still allowing me to continue the experiment.
When I did switch my phone on again on Sunday morning, I discovered I hadn’t missed out on much. There were no missed calls or emergencies that happened while I was offline, just a couple of Facebook messages and a few non-urgent emails.
Would I do it again? Yes, but in smaller doses. I felt I got some great benefits from switching my phone off on the Friday night and having a solid few hours to myself. It also meant I had a really good sleep. I could certainly benefit from doing that more regularly, perhaps even weekly.
Have you done a digital detox? How did you fill your day? And what benefits did you get from the experience? Share it in the comments section below.