Time For a Digi-detox?

Psychologist Dr Andy Cope offers tips on how to become a tech-'no'.

When you drive off the ferry at New Zealand's Waiheke Island, you're greeted by a sign that says 'Slow down. You're here'. What a wonderful reminder about life in general, as sometimes in this world, it can feel like we're burdened with excess baggage.

Many of us, at various times, try to shed this baggage, have a break from social-media or a digi-detox to help us be more present and reclaim our own lives. While it's often impossible to reduce your dependence on IT at work, Dr Andy Cope offers his Digi-Dozen detox tips, if you're feeling the need to try and redress the balance and lighten the IT-load in your personal life.

Digi-detox tips:

  1. Sign out of each app after you've used it. This will require you to sign back in every time you try to use them again. There's not much chance you'll remember the password, hence you can't just mindlessly open them up and scroll through whenever you have a free second.
  2. Delete all social media apps from your phone; check these only from a desktop computer.
  3. Turn all banner-style/pop-up/sound notifications off.
  4. Leave your phone in your pocket or keep it out of sight for meetings, get-togethers, conversations and meals.
  5. At home, get a second fruit bowl and make it a 'phone bowl'. House rules: all visitors and residents deposit their phone in said bowl. If you want to check it, you must go to the bowl, check and replace your phone into the bowl. It's your house, so your rules.
  6. Keep your phone out of sight during your commute. Watch the world go by instead. You'll see lots of people on their phones. Smile at the irony.
  7. Don't take your phone with you into the bathroom or toilet. In a delicious throwback, read the air freshener instead.
  8. Choose two hours a day to switch your phone off. And then stick to it.
  9. Get an old Nokia. Phone calls, texting and Snake. What more do you need?
  10. Instead of thinking about 'spending less time on your phone', think about 'spending more time on your life'.
  11. Ban phones from the dinner table. Try talking to your family instead. Be sure to ask them about the highlight of their day.
  12. A word about 'sharing etiquette'. There's a time and a place for sharing an experience; ideally having experienced it yourself first. If you're preoccupied with 'sharing', then the moment has already changed - the act of sharing becomes your focus. We dare you to be the one who's in the moment. The moment is enough. You were in it. You know because you were there. Nobody else needs to know. That moment. It's yours to keep.


Dr Andy Cope is a positive psychologist and author of Zest: How to Squeeze the Max out of Life