8 Ways To Break Your Technology Addiction

8 Ways To Break Your Technology Addiction

24. May 2018

Let’s go back to the year 1996. A teenager has just been admitted to an alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre. Not only is his whole body shuddering, he’s whimpering and shaking uncontrollably. In the lounge, he starts hurling chairs and tables around. One thing is crystal clear: He is in the worst stages of withdrawal.

But what did he consume? Crack? Vodka? Heroin? No, nothing of the kind. According to the psychologist he consulted, he had gone cold turkey from the internet. In 1996? Hard to believe, right? But wait…we bet you’ve looked at your phone at least once in the last 10 minutes. Been on the laptop? Opened Facebook? Read the latest news? In 2018, this withdrawal clinic would attract countless potential patients, smartphone zombies as a Deloitte study calls them, who have long been out of control of their internet use.

The subject of technology addiction is now so omnipresent that a whole market has emerged concerned with digital withdrawal. The camp for adults run by Camp Grounded in Navarro, California, wisely located near San Francisco, is just one of many examples. Digital Detox also offers days filled with activities such as talent shows, painting and creative writing, retreats including green smoothies and yoga, all organised by the Oakland-based company. Their motto: “Disconnect to reconnect”. They all have one thing in common: You have to hand in your devices at the entrance.

But what if you’re not ready to go cold turkey and pay hundreds of dollars to hand over your mobile phone? With our small everyday tips, you can quickly restore the balance between working productively with the help of technology and endless internet surfing.

1. Turn Off Push Notifications
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A classic one and rightly so! This trick works so well because it can easily be implemented in everyday life. In fact, push notifications are rarely important and just seduce you into picking up your phone and not letting go. The same applies on a laptop – they rarely benefit or help you.

Chloe Brotheridge, an anxiety expert, told the Guardian that notifications practically force the subconscious to open the corresponding programme – regardless of whether it’s an important message; in most cases, it isn’t! For this reason, she recommends that you consciously retrieve your emails instead of relying on push notifications. This way, you’re automatically in control of how you use technology.

2. Exit Unused Apps

This is a pretty obvious tip, isn’t it? The mere fact that Slack is not constantly grabbing our attention or that we do not see the Instagram icon on our screen causes much less distraction. Nevertheless, there is practically no one who completely logs out of currently unused programmes or at least closes them down completely.

Why not try it out? The ten seconds it takes to log in are sufficient to convince users that checking for something new (probably nothing new anyway) is completely unnecessary. Think the repeated login wastes too much time? Sure, it may take slightly longer, but you’ll save so much more time by only opening the tool when you actually need it.

3. Combine Sleep Mode with a Password

Just the light of a screen seems to magically attract our eyes. It’s just so hard to ignore, even newborns react to flashing screens. However, when phones and desktops are regularly shut down, and you’ve only got the black screen in front of you, it’s much easier to focus on other things, like actually sleeping.

Use passwords to reactivate your devices and apps. Similar to the principle of logging into programmes or networks, the few seconds required to unlock your device after it has been reactivated from sleep mode often provide you with enough time to consider whether it is really necessary.

4. Put It in Your Pocket!
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Simply turning off the PC at work may not be very practical – after all, this is where most of our daily communication takes place. However, how about your mobile phone? In most companies, intelligent cloud-based telephone systems have replaced the mobile phone for all work-related discussions anyway. These systems include appropriate features that actively enhance communication rather than constantly providing distraction. And if in doubt, your mobile will ring anyway, even when it’s in your pocket.

Did you know that NFON offers you a free trial version of the next-generation telephone system? The complete NFON experience for 30 days. Register for free – no credit card, no strings attached!

5. Technology Helps You Stay Away from Technology

“If we were simply left with our devices, we would spend the whole day with them”, says David Ryan Polgar, technology ethicist and co-founder of the Digital Citizenship Summit. Let’s be honest: Our willpower just cannot compete with all the smart minds behind the many start-ups and giant corporations fighting to get our attention. According to Polgar, “we must now actively defend ourselves against intelligent targeting, ideally by limiting the temptation as much as possible from the outset”.

Ironically, technology could actually be our first help here. For example, in the form of apps that tell you how often you’ve been looking at your phone today, that warn you if your consumption exceeds your self-imposed limits or that radically block distractions like games altogether.

These apps can deliver notifications such as “Boom! 2H 33M break from your phone! Digital detox goal smashed!” The app Space starts off nicely with notifications such as “How about a break?” but quickly escalates and then becomes crystal clear: “Oh, you again! Do you really have to be here?”

6. Stop Googling Everything

Do you remember how you used to ask your colleagues what time the baker around the corner closes or what a certain idiom is in English? This still works perfectly and is good for team communication.

Forbes recommends: Trust your instinct and think a little longer before you refer to the internet. In everyday work, this often has the nice side effect that you will determine where your talents and strengths lie and simultaneously interact more with your colleagues. People who rely completely on the internet find it harder to come up with original ideas and an authentic appearance. They also lack the feedback that exchange with colleagues brings with it. Maybe you’ll make a fool of yourself from time to time – but you will learn a lot in the process.

7. Set up Technology-Free Zones
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Technology is gradually finding its way into all spheres of our lives, generally without us really noticing or wanting it to. Creating spaces where there is a ban on technology can help us to switch off intentionally.

This may be difficult to implement in the office, but you can also use the breaks in your daily work routine to have lunch with colleagues or partners, talk about new projects or simply your plans for the weekend. The online world will then simply remain in the office for half an hour. Another little tip: Your mobile phone doesn’t have to go to the toilet with you!

8. Enjoy Grey on Grey

The initiative from Silicon Valley Time Well Spent, which consists of technology geeks and former employees of tech giants, beats them at their own game. The team knows better than anyone else how the strategies that attract users’ attention work – after all, they developed many of them themselves.

The latest Digital Detox trend: Grey tones! Because colourful, cheerfully flashing icons reward our brain every time we unlock our device. By displaying the screen in greyscale, this positive reinforcement is removed. According to this initiative, this already helps many people to be less ensnared by the promises of technology.

This option is already integrated on most devices – you can find it in the settings under ‘colour filters’.

Good Conversations Are the Best Distraction

Clearly, the problem is a cause for concern. As psychotherapist Hilda Burke, chairwoman of the National Unplugging Day 2016 and 2017, confirms, the excessive use of technology sooner or later brings psychological problems such as anxiety or insomnia. Even if you don’t feel any of this yet, your body and mind will benefit in any case if you occasionally switch off. And that makes your work more efficient, beyond the promises of the productivity tools on your laptop.

Technology keeps us constantly up to date and permits neither breaks nor idleness. It is actually beneficial to get bored more often, because that’s when the really good ideas emerge. In short: real conversations, face-to-face or over the phone, more single-tasking and a conscious, self-determined approach are the key to a healthy relationship to technology in everyday life.

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