Generation Y (also known as the millennials) are estimated to pick up their phones 150 times a day, checking emails, whatsapp, social media and logging into a million and one different user apps from Tinder, to Clue, Wunderlist to Framatic. No wonder this highly distracting online world can leave us feeling lost and overwhelmed, inadequate and insecure.
For these very reasons, it’s more important than ever before to take control of our digital dependency and be more selective with the time we spend online. Streamline the beneficial stuff and start to quit the useless distractions.
Here are nine easy tips to help you become more mindful and take a healthier approach to your online habits –
- Use a blocking tool such as Anti-Social or StayFocusd to improve your productivity by locking your computer away from social media sites for a certain amount of time, time of day or day of the week. You’ll be amazed at how much more you get done when you can focus without distraction.
- Get into the habit of putting your phone down at 9pm and not checking it again until 9am the next day. Use the Do Not Disturb function on your phone to schedule this quiet time and stop any alerts coming through. If there’s someone you want to allow emergency calls from, there’s the exception option for safety.
- Try and partake in social media free Saturdays. You’ll soon become aware of how often you want to check your phone and the negative impact this has on the quality of your free time. Instead try picking up that book you’ve been meaning to start, or go for a long walk. Catch up with an old friend or visit a family member. You’ll soon start to feel the benefit of improved engagement in activities and personal interactions.
- Instead of whatsapp’ing, emailing or instant messaging your mates to arrange weekend plans, pick up the phone and call them. A two-minute telephone conversation will give you instant clarity, leave you feeling organised and far less drained than an endless stream of online message exchanges.
- Remove work emails from your phone. Unless you’re paid an excess to be on call 24/7, there’s absolutely no reason why your free time shouldn’t be exactly that. Do not check work emails before bed or first thing in the morning as soon as you wake up. Not on the train home, or sat in Pret on your lunch break. This is your time out of the office and away from work. Do not blur the boundaries. Be more disciplined with yourself and both sides will reap the rewards.
- When you’re out for dinner with family or friends, try and play the game where everyone puts their mobile phones in the center of the table and agree a forfeit (such as a round of drinks or a dare) for the first person to reach for theirs.
- Do you ever find yourself on Facebook flicking through an old work colleague’s, sister’s holiday snaps? Or a stranger’s wedding photos? When you do allow yourself time online, try to be more mindful of what you’re choosing to look at. Ask yourself what and why? Are you actually gaining anything from reading their posts or browsing their photos? If not, then move on!
- Regularly audit the number and quality of apps you have on your phone. What benefit do they bring to your life? Do they add more meaning or just dilute your focus? Why not try deleting Facebook altogether and only accessing it from your desktop?
- Try a regular digital detox – physically hide your phone away and forget all about it. Whether on holiday, over the weekend or simply shopping on a Saturday afternoon. Start with short breaks and increase the amount of time you spend apart. You’ll instantly feel lighter, more in control and have the time and energy to concentrate on more important things in life.