Reclaim Your Time: How to Unplug and Stay Unplugged

When you wake up in the morning, how long does it take for you to reach for your phone?

These days, our phones seem to be our everything—our alarm clocks, our calendars, our music players, and our message centers.

While I am all about this level of convenience (I have two phones and an Apple Watch myself), technology isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

Too much time in front of screens can lead to both neck pain and something called “computer vision syndrome”, or digital eye strain.

What’s more, smartphone use before bed can disrupt your natural sleep cycle and result in insomnia (a whole other issue that impacts productivity).

The more time we spend using our devices, the more likely we may feel these kinds of negative effects.

In fact, time spent on our devices is increasing, with the average smartphone user now clocking in at 3 hours and 10 minutes per day.

What this means is that you, as an ambitious leader, need to be ever more cognizant about the time you dedicate to technology.

Technology may make your life easier in many ways, but it’s important to learn to disconnect from it every now and again to not only decrease possible negative health effects, but also to reclaim your time.

Time is one resource that is nonrenewable. We can’t make more of it. Ever. 

And so, I challenge you to check yourself—are you dedicating too much time to your tech?

If this is the case, then it might be time for a digital detox. Unplugging from technology can feel painful at first, but with practice it gets easier.

Learn how to unplug and stay unplugged with the following 3 tips. 

How to Unplug Tip #1: Accept Reality When There’s No WiFi

Once WiFi—something we use and seek out on an almost daily basis—suddenly becomes limited or totally disconnected, we may become easily agitated. We want and expect WiFi to be on and available at the push of a button.

But when life throws a curveball at you and WiFi just isn’t available for whatever reason, go ahead and take advantage of that no WiFi time— step outside your digital comfort zone.

No WiFi time is truly a blessing in disguise as it gives you the opportunity to explore new ways to connect with those around you and time to reconnect with yourself.

Use your no WiFi time to slow down and engage in self-reflection, to remind yourself of what brings you joy, to cultivate gratitude for the good things that surround you, and to revel in the quiet moments—something we don’t have much of these days.

By allowing yourself to accept the reality of unintentional disconnection, you give yourself time to recharge, which could slow burnout and increase your productivity.

So instead of being irritated next time your WiFi craps out, see your no WiFi time as a gift—embrace it!

How to Unplug Tip #2: Remove Easy Access to Your Tech

But, what if you can’t trust yourself to go tech-free even for 15 minutes?

Well, then you need to put really clear boundaries in place by removing easy access to your tech.

Removing access will make it easier for you to resist the urge to grab your phone or open up your email every few minutes, allowing you to reclaim small pockets of time throughout your day.

Less tech time means more time you can dedicate to other things, including making moves toward your big goals and dreams.

It also means giving yourself a chance to break out of your comfort zone. Our devices are major comfort zone enablers since we can stay behind screens for hours rather than venturing out and about.

So in the spirit of reclaiming your time and stepping outside of your comfort zone, try out these simple techniques to limit easy access to your tech:

  • Turn off push notifications on your phone to decrease time spent on social media and apps.
  • Change your smartphone screen to black and white to make it less enticing to check it constantly.
  • Download and use internet restriction apps, such as Freedom or Cold Turkey (a popular option among writers, especially), to block out noise from the world wide web and re-focus.
  • Use a regular alarm clock and leave your phone in another room while you sleep to minimize sleep disruptions.
  • Schedule time for distractions so that you have designated times throughout your day to check email, social media, and the like rather than being available all the time.

Setting boundaries like these is important because they’ll allow you to control your time—how you use it and how you give it away. With our increasingly connected world, it is your job as a leader to monitor and manage your time effectively.

How to Unplug Tip #3: Be Open to Accountability

With any kind of goal—whether it’s unplugging from tech or running a marathon—I am a major advocate of finding a way to hold yourself accountable.

Naturally, I recommend that you open yourself up to accountability if you really want your tech detox time to be a valuable and long-lasting change.

My go-to accountability tools are my accountability partners—they keep me sane, focused, and driven toward my goals, even one as seemingly mundane as low-tech or no-tech days.

Grab yourself an accountability partner, planner, or daily reminder so that you are more inclined to stay committed to your digital detox for the long haul.

Reset Your Tech Behavior to Reclaim Your Time

Think of unplugging from technology as a grand opportunity.

Every time you make the decision to say “no” to scrolling through social media or looking at your phone, you are saying “yes” to more time with family and friends and to working more effectively and efficiently on your goals and dreams.

Don’t let tech get in your way—use it to your advantage when you need to but limit the overuse so that you can redirect your energy toward bigger and better things now and in the future.



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