Make the most of your holiday this summer with a much-needed break from your devices. Photo / Unsplash
There’s no doubt about it; phones are supremely helpful gadgets. With a tap, click or swipe we can do anything from contacting a loved one oceans away to ordering our favourite takeaway.
Hyper-connected and hyper portable, we can take them (and their handy functions) wherever we go and our lives can be a lot simpler for it.
The issue? That hyper-connectivity goes both ways.
Just as we can email, text and call, others can do the same to us. Add in the development of ‘work-from-home’ culture, where we’re always reachable and it can feel impossible to properly ‘switch off’.
Yet, as humans, our need for rest and peace hasn’t changed; we still need time dedicated to rest and leisure.
Devices as a double-edged sword
It’s no secret we spend a record amount of time looking at screens every day and the resulting anxiety and distraction is well documented. Especially when what we’re looking at are missed calls from our boss or late-night emails from that client.
However, we also know how helpful our phones can be on holiday. They allow us to take photos, find directions, communicate with family and, especially this summer, scan Covid-19 QR codes and store My Vaccine Passes.
The question then becomes, how can we enjoy the benefits of our devices without letting them get in the way of our holidays?
Think about your ‘why?’
Before jumping into rules or restrictions, get clear on your ‘why’. If you free up time and mental space by stepping away from your gadget, what do you want to spend it on?
Maybe it’s being present and playing with your kids. It could be finally getting through that stack of books or spending entire afternoons cooking in the kitchen. Visualise what you want your trip or vacation to look like and get clear on the reason why it’s worth putting the phone down for.
Take it slow
If you want to relax when you go on holiday, experts say quitting everything all at once may make things worse.
“Going cold turkey is not the answer—you will just get more and more anxious,” says Larry D. Rosen, author of The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World.
“I would suggest starting to ‘wean’ yourself from constant tech use slowly, using what I call a tech break.”
These small breaks could be timing your phone to go on ‘sleep’ mode at 9 pm, keeping meals phone-free or keeping your phone in a desk draw instead of right next to you.
Communicate about non-communication
Expectations are key, so don’t be shy about letting people know that, for a period of time, you won’t be contactable. Set up an automatic out of office email that kindly but firmly communicates that you will be offline and can respond after a certain date.
Talk to your colleagues about how you’re looking forward to switching off, and tell friends or family members you may be a little MIA on Facebook or text. You never know, they may feel encouraged to do the same.
It seems almost too easy but believe the science; this trick does make your phone less appealing.
By turning your phone onto greyscale and removing the bright, attention-grabbing colour, the screen experience is made ‘less compelling according to Adam Alter, a marketing professor at New York University and author of Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked.
Ditch the notifications
In order for life to go smoothly, we can’t miss the important things. While you’re at work or socialising, those things are often emails, calls, tweets or social media posts. On holiday, the important things are long lunches, beach days, board games and great conversations.
So, go through your phone and turn off those tempting red notification badges on all of your apps. Don’t worry, you can always turn them back on later.
Get the group involved
Getting off your device is hard when surrounded by people attached to theirs. Fortunately, the flip side is true too; the challenge can become fun when it’s done as a group.
Decide together what rules you’ll follow, whether it’s having a communal box to keep devices in during meal times, only allowing one hour of screen time a day, or seeing who can go longest without grabbing their tablet, laptop or phone.
Consider the big delete
Psychologists say that, when faced with temptation, people will fall into two categories depending on what they find easiest: abstinence or moderation.
If you are the latter, consider deleting apps that really aren’t essential, but you know you will be tempted to check.
We’re talking emails, social media, Netflix ad other content apps that could easily be downloaded again if you urgently needed to check something. More often, we check out of a sense of boredom that isn’t motivating enough to redownload.
Enjoy your time!
Now, with your mind (and thumbs) freed up, it’s time to enjoy wherever you’re spending your holiday season. Make the most of it and plan some epic activities with the help of our travel guides and advice.