Why you should embrace a ‘digital detox’ over Christmas
Christmas is coming, and that almost certainly means you’ve booked several days of holiday between Christmas Eve and New Year. Our modern working culture means we find it almost impossible to leave the job at the office and switch off, even over the festive period.
In the handful of weeks when we’re supposed to be focusing on friends, family and fun, is it time to go cold turkey on the screens? Here are a few rules for enjoying a successful ‘digital detox’ over Christmas.
Ditch the phone
If you have a phone which you use solely for work purposes, then put it somewhere you can’t reach it. The temptation to sneak a peek at emails, schedules and diaries can be too much, and that’s not what you should be focusing on over your holiday. The safest place you could leave your work phone is in the locked top drawer of your desk in the office, where there’s no way you could get access to it no matter how bad the withdrawal symptoms.
We are obsessed by social media, and many of us will dip in and out of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram several times a day, often wasting hours updating them or reading other people’s posts. They can be a good thing if you can’t be with certain members of your family over Christmas, but more often than not they’re a time sponge and probably psychologically unhealthy. If you’re a small business owner or manage your work’s social media output, there’s also the temptation to keep updating your pages. Don’t! If you think you’ll be tempted, temporarily suspend your accounts and focus on what really matters.
No screens at the table
This is a rule which needs to be imposed on adults just as much as it is on kids. When you’re sitting down for your Christmas dinner, the last thing you want is to see your son/daughter/partner/granny distracted by their phone or tablet and ignoring you. Adults are just as guilty as children when it comes to getting bored and turning to their screens, so call a halt to screen time for important events such as meals, present opening and seeing in the New Year. Have a ‘safe place’ where all the phones are shut away and leave them there.
Don’t switch the laptop on
Desktop or laptop, don’t switch the computer on in the first place and you’re less likely to be tempted by it. There may be important things you need to Google like weather updates or traffic reports, but other than that there’s nothing which you really, really need to do online. Nobody is uploading new properties to Rightmove, nobody will be fulfilling an Amazon order you place on Christmas Day, and you certainly don’t need to be logging in to your company site for anything work-related. Make turning your computer on as hard as possible, by taking the plug out from behind the desk or temporarily removing the battery from your laptop.
According to one Ofcom report from 2016, the typical UK adult spends more time staring at screens in a week than they do sleeping. Over half of those they surveyed took their phones to bed and half said their devices had a detrimental effect on family life, and those figures are likely to increase as we become ever more connected.
Christmas is supposed to be about enjoying time with family, forgetting life’s problems and living in the here and now. You may feel anxious, frustrated and lost without your devices, but the feeling soon wears off if you can make it through the first day. If you want to get the most from your holidays and return to work feeling refreshed, try ditching the screens and properly switching off over the festive period.