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The 2016 Digital Detox

The 2016 Digital Detox

River Cottage's Jemma Moran on how to get your digital life back in control

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Is it make a coffee, hug your spouse or check your smartphone? I’m guessing it’s the latter. After all, the average person checks their phone 85 times a day, receives just over 100 emails and spends around three hours actively using the internet – so you’d probably need to get going with all of that from your first waking moment.

But we know it’s not good for us. The impact of smartphones on our health has been well documented.

So why not make 2016 the year you get your digital life under control? This might seem a little ironic coming from a digital marketing manager, but it’s hard to argue against the fact that we’re all spending too much time online.

Try these five things to see if you can feel happier and less obsessed with your melatonin-supressing, anxiety-inducing, socially-alienating little gadget of doom.

1. Tidy that inbox

Get your emails under control. Ruthlessly unsubscribe from anything you’re not genuinely interested in. File your emails in subfolders or delete them – having hundreds of messages in your main inbox is an unnecessary stress. Changing your social media notifications will help too. Adjust your settings – you don’t really need an email every time your Auntie Nora comments on a photo, do you?

2. No phones in the bedroom

I’ve recently forbid myself from using screens in the bedroom. I leave my phone on the landing at night, so that aimlessly scrolling through emails and socials isn’t the first and last thing I do every single day. I got the idea from Daniel Craig, who once said in an interview: “There’s nothing technological allowed in the bedroom. We have a ban on it.”

3. Internet free day

Why not spend your Sundays completely free of the internet? Take the opportunity to reconnect with your surroundings and those around you – without the distraction of emails, social media and 24 hour news. At the end of the weekend ask yourself, what did you miss? Important emails are rarely sent on a Sunday.

4. One thing at a time

When settling down to an evening of Netflix or similar, do you ever find yourself scrolling through your smartphone at the same time? Or perhaps you watched The Great British Bake Off final, but made sure to live tweet it too? Stop with the digital multitasking and concentrate on one thing at a time. This applies in the office too, so try turning off your email pop-up notifications so that you can work uninterrupted, checking your inbox when you want to. 

5. The art of conversation and letter writing

Texting, instant messaging, tweeting, snapchatting… they all have their place in today’s modern world but what about good old-fashioned talking and writing? Take the time to pick up the (landline) phone to call an old friend and have a chat – it’s so much more satisfying than a back and forth on Facebook. Need to thank someone for something? A hand-written letter is such a lovely thing to receive in the post.  

I hope these five simple things help you take back control of your digital life, they certainly have me. Why not get started today, your wellbeing depends on it!

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