3 Effective Ways to Unplug From Technology & Focus

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Why is it important to unplug from technology sometimes? What are the best strategies for disconnecting from your phone or the internet?

In today’s digital age, it’s easy to get lost in technology and forget about the world around us. That’s why it’s important to unplug from technology and take back control of your focus. But, with the internet and our phones being an integral part of our lives, this can be a challenge for many of us.

Read on to learn three ways to unplug from technology to improve your focus, according to experts.

How Technology Distracts Us

Does it seem that when you try to concentrate on a task, your attention gets pulled in a thousand directions? Do you often feel like there are so many things on your to-do list that you never have any energy left for the things that matter to you most? The enemy of focusing your attention is distraction. Daniel Goleman outlines two main types of distractions: emotional, in which feelings take center stage and interrupt our attention, and sensory, in which a physical sensation such as pain or a loud noise commands our attention. Modern technology, especially our personal devices, is a relentless source of sensory distraction and can lead to addictive relationships with digital media. It’s important to manage your technology use and even unplug from technology when it’s negatively affecting your ability to focus. Whether the distraction is emotional or sensory, avoiding distraction and maintaining your focus requires a deliberate, conscious act of will.

Why is it so hard to unplug from technology? In Stolen Focus, Johann Hari makes the case that in the digital age, we’re being distracted on purpose. Tech companies carefully engineer their products to keep your attention for as long as possible, because the longer your eyeballs are glued to the screen—where advertisements are placed strategically among your friend’s cat videos—the higher the companies’ revenues. If your goal is to focus on your screen, tech is your friend; if your goal is to focus on anything else, tech is your enemy.

How to Unplug From Technology

Digital technology clamoring for your attention can interrupt your schedule. To truly focus, you have to learn to control your relationship with technology so that it doesn’t control you. Let’s take a look at some expert tips to learn how to unplug from technology:

Tip #1: Turn off your email. In Eat That Frog!, business consultant Brian Tracy insists that just because someone sends you an email doesn’t mean you owe them your time. As many as 80% of the emails you receive aren’t important, and most of those remaining can probably be put off. Only around 5% require an immediate response. Computer science professor Cal Newport goes into more explicit detail about how to curb email use. He suggests ways to compose your messages so that they include all the necessary details and don’t result in an email back-and-forth. He also recommends giving yourself the freedom to ignore any communication that isn’t essential.

Tip #2: Turn off the internet. To completely unplug from technology, Newport says to schedule in advance when you’ll use the internet and avoid it completely outside those times. Keep a notepad nearby where you record any ideas you need to revisit once you’re online again. If you get stuck by not being able to access the internet, then move on to another task. In Make Time, Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky make a similar suggestion: If you often feel distracted by questions you would normally look up on the internet, keep a notebook to write those questions down and look up the answers later.

Tip #3: Turn off your smartphone. As tech industry insiders, Knapp and Zeratsky proclaim that the single most pernicious device that impinges on your ability to focus is your smartphone. They recommend another way to unplug from technology without disabling the internet—delete all social media apps, games, and even your email from your phone. If that’s too extreme, they suggest you turn off all notifications and remove the apps from your homescreen, forcing you to choose when to use each app. Finally, you can leave your phone at home, in another room, or even in a locker if one’s available. In other words, turn your phone into a tool that serves you, and not the other way around.

3 Effective Ways to Unplug From Technology & Focus

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Emily Kitazawa

Emily found her love of reading and writing at a young age, learning to enjoy these activities thanks to being taught them by her mom—Goodnight Moon will forever be a favorite. As a young adult, Emily graduated with her English degree, specializing in Creative Writing and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), from the University of Central Florida. She later earned her master’s degree in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University. Emily loves reading fiction, especially modern Japanese, historical, crime, and philosophical fiction. Her personal writing is inspired by observations of people and nature.

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