Tips on how to prise yourself away from your tech
Did you make a New Year’s resolution about cutting down on your internet and phone use, but fail miserably at the first hurdle? You’re not alone. Here are a few tips on how to create some space between you and your tech. Let’s do a digital detox!
Switch off notifications
The little bleeps that tell you you’ve got a new message used to be useful, but now with so many apps and programs using them, you can easily get distracted on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s a hassle to go in and stop those notifications, but once you do, you’ll be rewarded with a lot less phone nagging.
How to switch off notifications on:
Check your email less
Do you really need to check your email every 30 seconds? If not, there are a few tips that can help.
One is to make it a little harder to find your email application. For example, if your Gmail app is on the home screen of your phone, deleting that icon so you have to go and find the app can be a small deterrent.
If you have all your emails coming into the same account or app for convenience, it may be worth separating the work emails so you only receive emails within certain hours.
There are also clever applications that limit the number of times emails will come into your inbox too. Check out adios.ai, which can work with Gmail to checking every hour, or a few times a day. You won’t lose any emails, they will be kept in a special folder – so if you’re low on willpower, you can end up checking that folder regularly instead!
Hide shortcuts in your web browser
Web browsers are always adding new features to make it easier to find the content you want, or to keep up with the latest news. However, if you’ve just opened up a new tab and are confronted with a link to Facebook or your favourite cat picture site, or the latest news, it can be very tempting to abandon your digital detox and get sidetracked.
There are usually settings to switch off links to ‘Most visited websites’ and ‘News feeds’. Here are instructions on how to hide news feeds and most visited pages in popular web browsers:
- Chrome desktop: Install an extension called ‘Remove Most Visited Pages‘
- Chrome mobile: no way of getting rid of most visited pages – sort it out Google! Try using Opera or Edge instead, which use the same display technology
- Edge desktop: Click the Customise cog icon top left to switch off ‘Top sites and my feed’, and have a blank page instead
- Edge mobile: Click on the top-right menu icon, Choose Custom and hide most visited sites, image of the day and feeds
- Firefox desktop: find instructions here (under Turning them off completely)
- Firefox mobile: find instructions here (under Turning them off completely)
- Safari mobile: hide frequently visited sites in the settings
Limit phone use
More recent smartphones have Digital Wellbeing features which can limit access to the apps of your choice for a certain amount of time, but they are easily overridden. If you want something that makes it more difficult to overuse your phone, apps like Screentime and Forest might be worth looking at, though you may need to pay to use all their features.
Good luck with your digital detox!
There’s just a few pointers, but if you have other ideas, please share them.