Digital burnout can happen more quickly and be more extreme for freelancers than other people because many of us spend so much of our time working online. It can also be difficult for us get offline and stay offline because our work depends on being connected to the internet. But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean we shouldn’t digitally detox.
Getting away from the internet clears your head, allows you to live more fully in each and every moment and helps you to be more productive when you do get back online to work.
In order to get away from the internet for a while, some people do digital detoxes for a day, a week, a month or more. Internet addiction is such a big issue for so many people, that there is even at least one digital detox retreat center in the world.
However, you don’t have to detox for long periods of time in order to fight and win the struggle against internet addiction. Frequent short detoxes can help lessen the internet’s hold on your life and keep its grip on you from growing too strong.
But, you may say, it is so hard to detox from the internet, even for a short time! I really don’t know how.
I know. I know it’s hard. That’s why I’ve written up this list of 10 digital detox tips for freelancers.
10 Digital Detox Tips for Freelancers
1. Don’t go to sleep online. Get off the internet every night at least half an hour before you go to bed. Decide on a time you’ll lay down to sleep and unplug yourself before that time. Or, if you can’t do that, when you do put down your devices for the evening, make yourself stay up at least a half an hour longer. Read, watch TV, meditate, do anything but engage with a screen. Clearing your mind of everything digital that’s occupied your attention throughout the day can help you drift off more easily and sleep more soundly.
2. Don’t wake up online. Don’t get on the internet every morning until you’ve been awake for at least half an hour. This includes quickly checking your phone for texts or calls. Once you pick up your phone in the morning, you might not be able to put it back down. Allowing your brain to wake up out from under the influence of the internet can help you start the day more calmly and naturally.
3. Take daily digital downtime. Take the kids somewhere for a while. Clean the house. Go for a jog. Just don’t look at a screen. At all. Keep your mind completely clear of the internet for a while every day and be more refreshed when you do go back online.
4. Turn your devices off. All the way off. The big thing here is your phone. You may not sit at your computer or on your tablet all day anyway, but so many of us instinctively constantly check our phones. Turn your phone off or at least put it away somewhere like in a drawer so when you habitually reach for it, it won’t be there. This can help your digital addiction become a bit weaker.
5. Take baby steps. If you’re really addicted and can’t stand to be unplugged for that long, try unplugging for 15 minutes. If that works, try another 15, or 5, or 30, or whatever you can. If you like it, it should be easier in the future to unplug for longer.
(Emergency protocol while doing a digital detox: If there’s a possibility you might get a very urgent call such as from your child’s school, set that number to a special tone and leave the ringer on. If you don’t get that call, don’t touch the phone. If you drive somewhere, put your phone in the glove compartment so if you have car trouble you won’t be up a creek.)
6. Take a digital detox day. If you feel yourself getting really burned out from being online, schedule a detox day soon. On that day, turn off all your devices, put them away and live your life. Getting out of the house and doing something out of the ordinary may be the easiest way to take your attention away from the internet. Spend the day with your kids at an amusement park. Go to the beach. If you can’t afford a day of fun and need to get things done, schedule a day full of running errands or doing whatever you need to do. Just don’t get on the internet at all.
7. Don’t drown in devices. If you can’t cut out your online time, then cut down the ways that you get online. Limit the number of devices you’re on. You probably don’t need to be on all devices all the time. When you’re finished with your computer work, for example, get away from your computer. If you need to do anything online the rest of the day, do it just on your phone. Watering down your online time to only one device can help in breaking the addiction.
8. Succumb to peer pressure. If you really have trouble disconnecting, ask someone you know to help you get offline and stay offline. Maybe a fellow freelancer. Maybe your spouse or significant other. Maybe your kids. You may need a little pressure to break the habit even for a day.
9. Don’t use your phone to get away from your phone. So many people use apps to help them sleep, to monitor sleep, to meditate. This can actually be counterproductive. Sleep, meditation and other forms of relaxation are natural. Keeping your mind attached to your device when you’re resting can impede your rest because you’re not 100% resting; you’re still attached to your device. People have been resting without the aid of devices for centuries, and this is still possible.
10. Detox proactively. Don’t wait until it’s almost too late and you’re so burned out you can’t stand it. Give yourself some serious digital downtime regularly, either on a schedule or spontaneously, so you can live your life not on the internet but for real.