How to Do a Digital Detox

This weekend I turned off my phone, iPad, and computer for 24 hours. I didn’t send texts. I didn’t check my email. I didn’t mindlessly scroll through Instagram or stage a “perfect” photo. I didn’t Tweet. I didn’t spend way too long reading my Facebook feed. Instead, I spent 24 hours connecting with new friends, hiking, eating healthy, homemade organic food, sitting by the fire, and curling up in bed with tea and a good book.

How to Do a Digital Detox

I went to the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut to plan Hazon’s Ride and Retreat with the Hazon team and members of the planning committee. Hazon is a Jewish environmental organization working to build a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community. My mom and I did the Ride and Retreat last year and enjoyed it so much that we signed up to be captains and planning committee members this year.

We arrived on Shabbat so we quickly turned off our electronics and stashed them in our room for the evening. As someone who is constantly on social media, sending or receiving texts, checking and writing emails, taking photos, and typing blog posts, freelance articles, and content calendars it feels strange to disconnect from technology. But, I learned that disconnecting makes it much easier to connect IRL. (Mom and Dad, that stands for in real life.) I’ve always been a fan of the movie The Breakfast Club. I love The Breakfast Club-esque moments where friends and strangers come together, learn about one another, and bond in a short amount of time. By turning off our tech and spending time focusing on planning the ride, playing games, eating Shabbat meals, practicing Shabbat rituals, taking long hikes, and talking for hours on end, we got to know each other so much better. Before Shabbat ended, we had a havdalah ceremony. As we sang, held hands, and swayed I was a little bit sad about turning my technology back on.

I learned that a digital detox is a great way to recharge, relax, connect, have real conversations, and feel more creative. I came up with a lot of marketing ideas, blog post ideas, and freelance article ideas. It sounds like work, but is almost impossible to turn off if you’re in a creative field or, you know, love what you do.

After the retreat, I did some research and came up with some of my own best practices for how to do a digital detox. It’s best to do a digital detox for at least 24 hours (and more if you’re feeling extra ambitious).

How to Do a Digital Detox

  1. Decide on Your Why:Decide why you’re doing a digital detox and what you want to accomplish. How do you want to feel during and after? Remind yourself of your mantra if your tempted to check your tech.
  2. Plan Your Digital Detox:Invite friends and family members unless you want to do it solo. Plan fun activities like yoga, reading your favorite book, cooking meals, going hiking, and taking a long bike ride. If you’re prone to FOMO, it will be a lot better if you’re spending time with people you like doing things you love.
  3. Resist Temptation:Turn off your tech and keep it somewhere where you won’t be tempted to turn it on. We kept all of our tech back in our rooms. As my dream mentor, Liz Lemon, would say: “Shut it down. Dealbreaker.”
  4. Get a Real Alarm Clock and a Watch:Because sleeping through your entire digital detox doesn’t count, and you don’t want to miss all the activities you have planned.
  5. Don’t Retox:Don’t get overwhelmed when you turn everything back on. You will probably have lots of unread emails and unanswered texts and tweets. Ease back into things. You’ve just learned that not everything has to be answered immediately. Remember how you felt during your detox and try to check your tech less moving forward. Not everything has to be answered right away and not every moment requires a text or post.

You can appreciate moments like the view at the end of a beautiful hike without feeling the need to take a picture or send a message to friends and followers. We joked around and enjoyed the view at the top of the hike, and I remembered the conversations more than I would have if I’d been busy editing a photo for Instagram and choosing the caption. (Although, it probably would have been: Are we out of the woods yet? Are we in the clear yet? In the clear yet? Good.)

The longer that I was away from my tech, the less I missed it. When I’m near my phone I’ll check it often and have even fallen victim to phantom vibration syndrome. (Yes, it’s a real thing.) When I turned on my phone text messages, emails, and Tweets tumbled in, but it didn’t matter that I didn’t answer right away. Oh and now I’m back to inbox zero, but I also have new friends and a ride and retreat that I’m even more excited about!

Have you ever done a digital detox? What are your tips for how to do a digital detox?

Image via Apartment 34.

P.S. If you want to support Hazon and my ride you can contribute at my personal page

18 Responses to How to Do a Digital Detox

  1. These are great tips! I definitely need to do a digital detox and spend some time away from my phone. Now that the weather is nicer, it makes it much easier to disconnect and go for a hike, visit a new place, or just spend time outside.

  2. Sara Kate says:

    This is great. Having a real alarm clock really does make the biggest difference in these situations. Very good read.

    Sara Kate Styling

  3. Jessica says:

    I’d love to do this one day as a challenge. It’d probably to difficult at first but if you’re doing things you enjoy in real life then I imagine it’s easy to distract your mind and focus on the moment much better. Love this post, thank you for writing it!

  4. Jenny says:

    I need to do a digital detox at some point. Also, I have totally experienced phantom vibration syndrome and had no clue that it was a real thing.

    xoxo, Jenny

  5. Anna says:

    I think doing a digital detox is a fantastic idea! We’ve become so attached to technology that we don’t really know what to do without it, so it’s a good idea to put it all away from time to time.
    -Anna |

  6. kenzie says:

    I have wanted to do a digital detox for quite some time now, these tips are awesome! It sounds like you had an awesome weekend! x, kenz

  7. Falynn says:

    I read somewhere that it is good for our brains to be bored every once in a while. We put so much into them. They need a real rest, not just a mindless stroll through social media, which isn’t really a rest.

  8. Kayleigh says:

    This is such a great idea! I find myself unplugging some weekends just for my sanity.

  9. Oksana says:

    What a fun post! I love it!

    XO, Oksana |

  10. Amy says:

    With everyone so glued to technology now a days I think we all need a digital detox once in a while. These are awesome tips and I may need to take one myself soon!
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  11. Marly says:

    The closest I have been to a digital detox is when I gave up my phone after 10pm during Lent. I always bring my phone to bed and catch up on social media for about 1 hour before bed and it was extremely hard not reaching for the phone at night. I love that you did this for 24 hours. It gives me some motivation to try the same.

  12. I have never done a digial detox, but I try not to turn my phone on during work and school…so for a good part of every day I am disconnected.

  13. I really want to go away for a weekend and do a digital detox with my friends! Glad you and your mom had an amazing time!

  14. Chronicling Home says:

    I really love this idea. I could use a minute away just total a break and reconnect. Good point on the FOMO…I wouldn’t have thought of that!

    Nicole // Chronicling Home

  15. Sarah says:

    Love this! Especially the “don’t retox” advice. You definitely want to make sure what you did was worth it and a gateway into your new life!

    x Sarah

  16. Tiffani says:

    I think a digital detox is something everyone needs to do! I do one every couple of months just to truly detox! There is nothing more relaxing that knowing i am not a slave to my technology.
    I’d love to hear more about your retreat- I’m in the midst of planning one myself.

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