Initially, I wanted to write an article about how I made unplugging part of my daily routine. But in my mind, I thought, “Who would read that? That sucks.” Then I thought about how unplugging has improved my productivity and well-being. I started researching to see if other people experienced this and if there is scientific evidence to back it up.
Let’s start from the beginning. What does unplugging actually mean? Here’s one definition according to Urban Dictionary: “doing something that would contribute to forgetting one’s problem or reducing stress.” It can also mean, “To take yourself off any social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc, for a few days. Simply put it is to live without computer-related devices so you can enjoy real-life interaction with people such as your family and friends and to focus on your work.
The average American spends nearly half a day staring at a screen. For most of us, our eyes stay glued to a screen from the second we wake up to the time we fall asleep. This means that the majority of our day is spent in the digital universe whether it’s answering emails, messaging, working, reading or getting entertained. A study by American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that when compared to teenagers with restricted use of cell phones, young people who use their cell phones excessively are more likely to experience disrupted sleep and increased restlessness. They are more susceptible to fatigue and stress and consumption of stimulating beverages with more careless lifestyles.
For some, disconnecting from the fast-moving realm of technology might initially elicit severe anxiety and “Fear of Missing Out” (FOMO). For busy entrepreneurs and startups, taking away even a minute from their smartphones can translate to missing an important sales call or an urgent email. But peeling away is necessary for more effective focus, stress recovery, and better sleep. It is adamant and necessary to increase the awareness of the positive effects of unplugging on our health and productivity. Here is a two-step plan to help you unplug every day.
Don’t use your phone before bed
If you don’t want to feel like a zombie all day, avoid using your iPad before bed like your productivity depends on it, because it actually does. This means actually turning off your phone two hours before your bedtime. Rid yourself of the temptations of incoming notifications. Screen time before bed can be detrimental. A research by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts suggests that using screens before bedtime not only makes it harder for you to fall asleep but also impacts how sleepy and alert you are the next day.
A previous study found that light from screens in the evening alters sleepiness and alertness, and suppresses melatonin levels. This study shows the consequences of sleep after a direct comparison between reading with a light-emitting device and reading a printed book. The comprehensive results of the study are clear – if you must read before going to bed read a printed book.
It is recommended to get nine hours of nightly sleep so you can be more productive the next day. If you absolutely must be on your computer before bed try a filter that blocks blue light which is responsible for making you more alert and suppressing melatonin.
Don’t use your phone first thing in the morning
Many of us use our cell phones as alarm clocks. Holding your phone first thing in the morning probably means you are going to do more than just turning off the alarm. Mornings should be sacred alone times for your brain. Perhaps the most important element of a productive morning is your routine. A great morning routine that leads to productivity starts without using your phone. A morning routine without Kylie Jenner-related breaking news notifications infiltrating your brain can feel pretty magical.
If you are using your phone as your alarm clock, purchase an alarm clock. You will be better rested the next morning. Use your morning to practice yoga, meditate or take a quite walk – focus on the outcome and on yourself to get the most out of this special time. Once you are done set your goals for the day. Without the unnecessary distractions from your phone, you will be able to start work early.