4 radical digital detox ideas

The word radical describes a person, an action or a thing that is especially impressive, inspiring, extraordinary, revolutionary, visionary, exciting, remarkable, exceptional, amazing, marvellous, sensational, incredible, unbelievable, phenomenal, spectacular…

You get the point.

Naturally, most of my approaches to practicing digital well-being have been extreme, like quitting social media altogether, or trying to flush my phone down the toilet. Spoiler alert: iPhone 4s doesn’t flush.

Over the years, implementing radical changes, not including flushing my phone down the toilet, have forced me to experience life without constantly escaping into digital distractions. Once I experienced the blissful offline world, it is hard to want to go back to spending countless hours mindlessly browsing the internet, obsessively checking for messages, or reading news that has 0.001% relevancy to my life.

Below are four radical digital detoxes I have implemented over the years that have helped me experience the joy of the world outside of my phone screen.


1. Delete data subscription

Not having internet connection on the go might seem like social suicide in our increasingly hyperconnected world, but hear me out.

Story time.

The first time I downgraded my phone plan to a basic text/call only plan was out of financial necessity as a college student. After being introduced to frugal living (read: coping living— just kidding, I love frugal living ideals), everything seemed to be a waste of money.

The online frugal living community was in agreement that paying for data was one of the many ways we waste money. Since I spent most of my days on campus or at home, which meant I had access to wifi most of the time, it made sense to cancel my data subscription and save money. 

What started as ultimate college survival tip turned to one of the best lessons on our hyper-connected world.

For over two years, I lived without data on my phone. Not only did I miraculously survived, but it made me realize that 24/7, on-the-go internet access wasn’t a necessity. Some of my best days during those times were spent a full day without wifi access.

However, living without data required some pre-planning.

For instance, for GPS, I’d take a screenshot of the routes on Google Maps when I have wifi access and then save it to my photo library. I’d also download music and podcast episodes for offline access.

Another unintended outcome of not having online access on the go was it forced me to be content with whatever was available for offline access, minimizing the paradox of choice. I enjoyed the podcast episode, or songs downloaded for offline access, without FOMO taking over.

Currently, I get 0.5GB data a day on a roaming international plan (long story), which basically means I don’t have data. I save what data I have for iMessage and WhatsApp, and GPS use. It helps that my iPhone functions as a dumb phone with very minimal need for internet.


2. D̶e̶l̶e̶t̶e̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ Rethink your social media accounts 

All those 30-dAyS-wItHoUt-sOcIaL-mEdiA challenges are for the feeble-minded! Delete all that

Say no more and opt out from big data!

You are an impressive, inspiring, extraordinary, revolutionary, visionary, exciting, remarkable, exceptional, amazing, marvellous, sensational, incredible, unbelievable, phenomenal, spectacular individual. You do not need social media to validate your existence!

Anyway.

If you can’t imagine living without social media, you can create a personal rule to manage your relationship with social media. No social media apps on your phone? Only follow people you know or actually communicate with? Limit social media time to a certain amount of time a day? The options are limitless.

Prior to deleting social media, I had a personal rule that I could only have a maximum of two social media accounts at a time.


3. Put your phone on Do Not Disturb indefinitely

My phone has been on Do Not Disturb for years now. Except for phone calls, my phone doesn’t vibrate or ring for notifications.

You ever hear/feel your phone vibrate or ring, but when you check it there are no notifications? It blew my mind when, after a few months of putting my phone on Do Not Disturb, that feeling completely went away.

That alone is honestly so amazing.

I truly enjoy not being constantly startled by the buzzing and beeping sounds of my phone. If it is urgent, people will call, and if I ever need to turn notifications for texts, I can simply turn off Do Not Disturb.

For now, I enjoy not owning my phone constant attention at its command.


4. Schedule digital breaks 

Schedule a time frame in your day, week or month to take a break from all digital stimulation. During these breaks, you unplug everything and then you go out into the wide wild world to find something to do… *gasp!*… offline.

This doesn’t mean stare at a wall until the time is up.

This would be a great time to spend time with… actual… humans, read that novel you have been meaning to finish (a physical copy, of course), and take a three-hour long bath with your thoughts, just because you can.

The best way I have found to take digital breaks is by cultivating high-quality offline leisure. The more time I spend doing offline activities, the less time I spend online.

Until next time…

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Published by Mehret Biruk

(re)discovering the pleasures of the offline world.