In this digital age, more of us are becoming increasingly attached to our smartphones. In fact, U.K. regulator Ofcom reported that the average Brit checks their smartphone every 12 minutes that they're awake and 78 percent of those aged 25 to 34 admit that they can't live without it.
While these gadgets may help make day-to-day lives easier, several studies indicate that too much screen time and social media can negatively impact mental and physical health, including sleep and social interaction.
Entrepreneur and author Tanya Goodin has analyzed research on internet addiction and has offered ways to help people unplug. At 2018's Stylist Live event in London last week, she shared a handful of tips on how to kick this addiction to the curb.
First off, Goodin suggests we should think about "our digital diet, like our food diet" and identify what our own digital junk food is.
As typical diets vary from person-to-person, so does digital cravings; therefore, it's important to consider what you spend too much time on, such as work email, or apps like Twitter.
"Identifying what digital junk looks like for you, is the first step in starting to develop a digital diet that looks healthy," Goodin told attendees.
We can all reach a point in the day when it feels like we're spending too much time with technology — and it doesn't help that it's an essential component of the workday for many.
"If our working day is now all spent on screens, what it means for us is that we can't spend our leisure time on screens anymore," she underlines.
"The answer to this is (reining back) the screens first thing in the morning, at lunch time, the screens when you're commuting and when you come home at night."
One technique that Goodin has personally acted upon is down to notifications, telling the Stylist Live crowd that she's switched off every notification on her phone and has a silent ringtone.
"The reason why that's so powerful is that in the battle between notifications and self-control — notifications win every single time."
Switching off all notifications may sound simple, yet Goodin admits that this isn't always plausible. If this is the case, look through your notification settings and identify which ones you can live without.
Ever find yourself aimlessly scrolling through social media? An immediate quick fix is to uninstall these mobile apps.
Going cold turkey may seem initially daunting however, so Goodin suggests testing this out for a weekend or certain weekdays, which could cut hours of time spent online.
Taking it a step further, make these addictive platforms more difficult to access by hiding them in folders or changing passwords frequently.
"Make sure you have to go through several steps to actually get to them, so it's not really automatic," she said, adding that she often mixes the screens up, so the process becomes less habitual.
If you find that you're looking over your emails incessantly and it's distracting you from completing tasks, one approach is batch processing.
"Check it two or three times a day. So, you set your time-slot in the morning, and you say, 'I'm going to check email at 8:30 a.m., then I'll check it again at lunchtime, and maybe at end of the day'," Goodin said.
If we all dealt with the email deluge more constructively, we'd get a lot more done, she added.
The final tip offered is based on having spaces where phones aren't permitted.
Aside from making vacations a no-phone zone, locations that Goodin suggests are found at home and work.
These include no phones in the bedroom, bathroom or kitchen; meantime, employees could remove phones from desks, and choose not to bring them into meetings or to break-out areas.
"The more complicated the rule is, the easier it is for you to find a way around it. If you have a very simple rule that says, 'This is a space that I don't take my phone into', it's much easier for you to stick to that."
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