One of the main reasons I set up this site is because I was struggling to find practical, realistic advice on balancing digital dependency with spiritual awareness.
There are so many amazing self-help books out there, dispensing great pearls of wellbeing wisdom, but the fact of the matter is a) I’m not a monk who b) lives in Outer Mongolia and I need to c) be online quite a lot of the time because I have a d) job to pay the bills.
Added to which, the majority of the best-selling books in this sphere were written before the Internet was invented, and so can’t actually help navigate these dastardly digital times.
As Madonna (sort of) once sang: We are living in a digital world, and I am a digital girl.
As a freelance content and social media specialist, I make my living in that digital world, so I’ve had to learn to manage it wisely.
Here are 12 simple ways you can, too:
1. Use an actual alarm clock, not your iPhone. Reduce the temptation of starting and ending your day staring at a screen. Also, those old-school bell alarm clocks are SO loud, you’ll simply be startled out of bed, sans snooze option.
2. Turn off all push notifications. This was one of the first things I did, v early on and I swear by it. It’s one of the simplest ways to ensure YOU’RE controlling your smart phone usage, and not the other way round.
3. Delete the Facebook app from your phone. Or Snapchat or whatever your app nemesis happens to be. Facebook for me is one of the biggest time drains, where I seem to scroll mindlessly through (I guess all the people I know “IRL” on there makes it somehow feel more ‘worthy’). I still have an account, but I access it via desktop only.
4. Swerve the infinite scroll. Related to the above, but I’ve become better at ‘catching myself out’ when I’m mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or cycling through social media apps. Read more here.
5. Put your iPhone away in public. If you’ve met up with your friend for dinner, don’t have your smart phone on the table. If you’re commuting on the bus or train, try reading a book or gazing out of the window instead. Give your eyes a break. Give your neck a rest! Let your mind wander, and see where it goes…
6. Look up while walking. Omg one of my absolute pet hates is people walking whilst on their iPhones. If you need to check Google Maps, stop and step to one side! Don’t walk ‘n’ text. Instead, observe your surroundings. I either pretend to be in a music video (sure) or try and memorise details of my journey as though I’m going to be quizzed by Crime Watch at a later date. Yes, I AM a weirdo.
7. Instil an email curfew. This might be easier for me now that I’m freelancing, but tbh, it’s always something I’ve tried to implement throughout my career. I try and avoid syncing work emails to my iPhone in the first place, so I can only check them on desk top. Then, I don’t answer emails outside of office hours (between 6pm and 8am generally speaking, and never at weekends).
8. Post updates post event. Take one or two photos, then embrace being in the present moment IN that moment. You can update your social media channels afterwards, but you’ll never get that time back, or the chance to make those memories again.
9. Balance online time with outside time. I literally try and apply a 50:50 rule here, so for every hour I spend online, I try to match with time in fresh air and nature. At the very least, I make sure I spend 15 minutes sitting quietly outside every damn day (even if it’s sharing a bird-poo-stained bench with a stranger in the middle of Soho Square).
10. Unfollow freely. Having a social media cull can feel so cruel initially but omg is it liberating. By removing all those hate-follows, or accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, you’ll make for a more enjoyable, curated feed for when you DO go online.
11. Check-out at the weekends. Similar to the email curfew above, I try and swerve social media usage at the weekend as much as possible and instead fill my time with IRL interaction with family and friends instead.
12. Stretch regularly. I do try not to go too yogi-tastic on here, but human beings aren’t designed to be hunched over a screen all day. It’s therefore important to redress the balance (and avoid ‘text neck’) by stretching – whether that’s a quick break from your desk, or a regular yoga practise (I mean, preferably both).