Gain Control of Your Digital Habit


Your device isn’t evil in and of itself. But it can run roughshod over you if you let it. I recently wrote about the astonishing survey results  we found that showed in many cases we can’t ignore our devices, interrupt our lives to check them, and feel more stressed and even worse about ourselves as a result.

Here are some strategies to keep your phone, tablet, laptop, and everything else from wrecking your mood and your day.

Create a digital-free zone. Decide to make a room in your home phone-free, whether that’s the kitchen table or another shared space, or denote a period of each day as unplugged time when laptops are closed and phones go on Do Not Disturb.

Connect to what’s going on around you. When you get that itch to check your email, especially when you’re in the middle of a meal or conversation, stop yourself. Counter the urge to pull away from the people or conversation going on around you by reengaging in it. Tell yourself you’ll check it later. Remember that you’re in charge of your device. Not the other way around. (Find out how your device is controlling you.)

Leave your phone at home. Try it. Just for an errand, a walk, or if you can swing it, a whole afternoon. What does it feel like to be free of your digital leash? Do you feel anxious without it or more relaxed? And most importantly, when you did come home to it again, what did you miss out on, if anything? Chances are, nothing much at all.

Track your mood. Take note of what triggers your need to “check.” Is it boredom? Worry? Then, allow yourself to visit your social networks, your email, and pay close attention to how you feel immediately following. What did you learn in that quick scan of updates and headlines, and how did that information affect you? Did it give you a good idea, remind you to call a friend, or just make you feel bad that you weren’t doing something else? Tracking your own habits can give you some insight into what’s driving your behavior, and contributing to your stress levels.