Computers, iPads and smartphones, oh my. That’s a lot of screen time. It’s probably safe to say that most of us are addicted to technology of some kind and we’d feel naked without our gaggle of gadgets beeping and buzzing all around us. While it’s just not feasible in this day and age to go completely tech-free, it is important to disconnect from the digital world once in a while as a way to reconnect with the people around us and give ourselves a break from all that time spent staring at a screen of some kind. We’ve put together a simple guide for giving yourself a tech break.
Aim for more face time
When you’re at work, rather than sending emails and instant messages to co-workers, make an effort to get up and speak to the people you work with face-to-face. We know it may seem faster and simpler to communicate digitally, but it can actually be easier to get your point across when you’re speaking to someone directly, which cuts down on a lot of emails or messages. Not everything calls for a direct chat, but do try to make at least one-third of your work interactions face-to-face rather than digital. This will not only give you a quick tech break, it will also give you a chance to get to know your co-workers better and forge better relationships with them.
Schedule non-screen time at home
Designate a certain time every evening (or during the day on weekends) where everyone has to do something that doesn’t involve the TV, computer, video games, iPhone, etc. This doesn’t just mean the kids — the whole family should abide by the tech-free rule during whatever time you’ve decided on. One hour during the week and 90 minutes to two hours on weekend days is a good place to start. During this time there are no screens allowed — no sneaking peeks at your BlackBerry or slipping into the next room to send an email. Put your phone or laptop somewhere you won’t be tempted to use it and read a book, play a board game as a family, do some chores you’ve been neglecting or simply use the time to catch up with your spouse or kids minus the usual digital distractions. It might seem difficult at first, but you’ll likely come to enjoy your tech-free time.
Getting fresh air and exercise is always important but it’s also a great way to take a break from technology. Sure, you might bring your phone with you or be listening to your iPod as you walk or jog, but the point of building in more outside time is to take the focus off of technology and instead help you refocus on the world around you. Take the dog for an extra-long walk, take your kids to the park, go for a weekend afternoon hike on a nearby trail (or drive somewhere you can hike if you don’t have anywhere suitable close by) or simply go for a stroll after dinner — with your spouse, your friend or solo — instead of immediately reaching for your laptop.
Why it’s important to take a tech break
If you’re shuddering at the thought of parting with your gadgets for even an hour, you’re likely not alone — but giving yourself some time away from technology can be good for you.
You’ll set a good example for your kids. Kids are increasingly spending more and more time in front of a screen and not interacting in ways they would have before computers, video games and a TV in every room were standard in most homes. If your kids see you engaging in activities outside of technology, they will be much more likely to follow suit.
You’ll build better bonds. There’s only so much of a connection you can make with people over digital correspondence. Facebook, texts and email are great for keeping in touch and making plans but in order to really bond you need to see and speak to others face-to-face. You will get your point across much better, build intimacy and nothing you say will get lost in translation.
You’ll get more done. Think about how much time you spend online and in front of a screen. Now think about all of the other things you could be doing if you weren’t on your computer. From chores that have been neglected to books you’ve been meaning to read, giving yourself even an hour a night of tech-free time can help you get a lot more done.