30-Day Social Media Detox
Try the 30-day program popularized by Cal Newport in Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World.
Define 3 values or goals that are important to you. What is important to you? When you envision a fulfilling life, what does it entail? For example, you might hope to visit Paris with a loved one, build a company, re-design your living room, learn to fly a plane, make your own dinner every day, teach your child how to read, etc. Make a list of 5-8 items.
For each goal, define 3 strategies of completion. These are concrete actions that you can take IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS to make progress on your goals from Step 1. If your goal is to learn a language, for instance, your first step might be to practice for at least 10 minutes per day.
Define where/when/how you are allowed to use new technology in relation to your goals.
Obviously, new technology was created with many functions in mind, not all of which are nefarious attention-consumers; some of your tasks, you may find, may be optimized by the selective use of these technologies. For this step, ask yourself which aspects of new technology (smartphones, social media, internet, etc.) are necessarily entangled in the strategies you laid out in Step 2. For example, you may have to scour Pinterest boards to re-design your living room, which is a legitimate use of media—this does NOT, however, mean that you get to extend that freedom to scrolling through Pinterest collections of modern dance.
Define low-tech rules for this detox month. This step refers to a baseline of technology use for survival. You obviously cannot—and likely should not!—stop checking work emails, for example, or answering your children’s text messages. Still, remember not to confuse “convenient” with “critical.” Your low-tech rules should include OPERATING PROCEDURES: When and how will you use your technology? (2 hours of Netflix only from 7-9pm, for example; 1 podcast per day; 1 hour of Facebook time). Also keep in mind that these are not forever rules; these rules should help you break down bad habits this month before you decide to allow more tech back into your life later.
CONCLUSION The hope is that in these 30 days, you will gain an understanding of where technology is enriching your life and where it is detracting—you may even find that, in your free moments, you don't crave your smartphone as much as you crave 10 minutes of piano practice! Armed with this re-entrenchment of your intentional values into your daily routine, you can integrate new technology back into your life, this time ensuring that it will not seep into empty, undefined spaces that make up your day.