7 Ways to Disconnect from Tech—& Joyfully Do Nothing

The more time you spend offline doing nothing, the more you’ll want to put your phone away and connect with yourself, friends, and the world around you.
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It’s so hard to turn your brain off these days and get some quiet. There are so many fun distractions. Television is so good right now and available on demand almost everywhere. There are so many ways to get messages from friends, relevant news about your city or town, updates about your favorite sports teams, juicy details on that celebrity split you are guiltily following, and those stunning photos of your friend’s trip to India. It’s all right there. And that makes it so hard to disconnect for quiet and rejuvenating time to simply do nothing. Doing nothing—simply breathing, sitting and being mindful—is a simple strategy for taking care of yourself anyone can implement. The catch: many of us find it hard to do nothing with our phones and the Internet constantly grabbing our attention.

Doing nothing is time for you to unwind and relax. And that will mostly mean being offline. If that scares you, fear not. Start small. You’ll benefit from even the smallest change in your online habits. And when you start feeling these benefits—less stress, more focus—you’ll put yourself in a feel-good feedback loop. The more time you spend offline doing nothing, the more you’ll want to put your phone away and connect with yourself, friends, and the world around you.

See also 3 Science-Backed Reasons to Put Down Your Phone

7 Ways to Start Disconnecting from Your Devices

  1. Leave your phone at home for quick errands. Get used to that feeling of not having it in your pocket/bag.
  2. Put your phone to sleep for the night. Leave it charging in another room—not your bedroom. Yes, dust off that alarm clock and start using it again.
  3. Turn off push notifications for most of your apps.
  4. Have a day offline. It could be once a week or once a month. It could be complete (you actually turn your phone off) or just partial (you only answer phone calls).
  5. Set some evenings each week to be screen-free. This means no television, phone, iPad, or computer. Get used to, and start enjoying, the offline life.
  6. Stop checking and returning messages immediately. Set a time each day for reading and replying to personal emails and messages.
  7. Make a point of connecting with friends and family in person. You’ll start to crave more real-life interaction and rely on your phone less to nurture and grow friendships.

Doing Nothing Is a Path to Greater Contentment

Better sleep, less anxiety, deeper relationships, less stress: There are so many reasons to make doing nothing a regular part of your life. The big one is that you will enjoy your life more. By regularly taking these restorative breaks, you prioritize your wellness (it feels good to do something positive for yourself), you make yourself a more engaged and present friend/sibling/parent/employee, and you get clarity on the things, people, and activities that make you feel good. 

See also Amy Ippoliti’s 4 Tips for a Digital Detox

Excerpted from The Joy of Doing Nothing (Adams Media, a division of Simon & Schuster)