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#stayconnected: Put down your phone

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For a series titled “stay connected,” the following article might seem a bit counterintuitive, but bear with me. Before the lockdown began, my daily screentime clocked in at about three hours; That’s close to an entire day per week, more than three days a month and at the end of the year, I would need a thirteenth month to catch up on all the time I spent glued to my screen.

So, how did I spend the first days of what would eventually turn into a digital month? I couldn’t really tell you, to be honest. Usually, there’s listening to podcasts and music, video chatting with friends and family, lots of social media, and of course, there’s always work.

When the lockdown began, our CEO Eva turned to our community with the opening lines “we are all in this together”. And how right she is. It looks different for each of us: Some of us have children to homeschool. Some of us have elderly relatives to worry about; some of us are those elderly relatives. Some of us have never been busier; some of us have lost our jobs. But one experience is collective: life is being turned upside down.

Unplug from distractions

So, while it’s dawning on us that this state of self-isolation might not be as temporary as we had hoped, many of us are becoming increasingly dependant on digital technology to live our lives. We’re spending more time online to connect, communicate, work, shop, inform and entertain ourselves. And while we settle into this new reality, all of this tech can sometimes distract us from the things that matter most. I firmly believe technology should improve life, not distract from it. But honestly, that’s easier said than done in week six of being cooped up at home.

 

Digital time well spent.

Mainly because we’re so used to being goal-oriented. We want to go somewhere and are very directed in getting there. But if there is one thing that these past weeks have taught me, is that sometimes walking as if you have nowhere to go is enough. Letting go of the daily grind, the pursuit of whatever it is that we’re chasing, even for just a moment, can be very liberating. It turns out that putting down your phone is a significant first step.

Now, I won’t tell you what to do, when you’ve managed to put down your phone and find the space within, that permits aimlessness for a while. Read, write, sing, dance, play, you know what you’re passionate about. I’m just here to share my experience, as a millennial working for a smartphone company, that even now, or maybe especially now, creating that space to put my phone down has truly made a difference for me in the last weeks. And in all honesty, it’s been harder than I care to admit.

6 tips to find your balance

So for all of you out there that know the struggle and for everyone who wondered what that pre-installed “digital wellbeing” app on their phone was, here are some practical tips that will help you to unplug for a while:

Wind down for a better night’s sleep
Creating space from your device at night can help you feel more relaxed and help you sleep better. Wind Down reminds you to switch off at night by setting a bedtime schedule for your phone. Grayscale changes the screen to black and white, and Do Not Disturb silences notifications to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Step away from work when you want to
Creating space from work-related notifications can help you recharge while away from the office. Turn off your work profile with one tap to pause work apps and their notifications.

Set an auto-reply
Gmail’s out-of-office auto-reply is good for more than just your next vacation. Customize your message to let people know you won’t be able to get back to them right away.

Create device-free zones and times
Designate times of your day or space in your home to be device-free. Finding a central place to keep your phone can reduce the urge to check emails and notifications.


These are just a few tips and tools to help you get started. There are so many creative ways people are using their tech to get through these strange times. How are you making use of your phones in your day to day lockdown-life? I’d love to hear from some of you in the comments below.

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