For me to start changing my behavior and many habits regarding the internet and—until I replace it—my smartphone, I needed to lay down some initial ground rules for myself. These parameters are a daily work in progress, but have shaped up as follows in practice. I’m interested to hear your suggestions in the comments.
- No using internet or computing/communication devices within an hour of waking up or an hour before going to sleep.
- Turn off work email (take offline or disable account) when leaving the office and leave off until returning to desk in the morning. If deadlines dictate an evening email session, turn it back on only long enough to respond to time sensitive emails.
- No checking phone while driving, stopped, walking or waiting. Only answer calls when driving if needed and check voicemail/texts only at intervals.
- When at home, office, and driving, take phone out of my pocket and ignore.
- When eating, meeting, or otherwise connecting with a human, do not use phone whatsoever.
- Never place the phone on the table—especially during meetings.
- Limit social media postings to 2-3 times per day. When posting, get in and get out (close apps/tabs), resisting the urge to scroll through and read posts or click on content.
- Instead of posting to social media or messaging passing thoughts, wait and see what still seems worth sharing when next having a social media or email session.
- Group types of online tasks: processing email, reading news sites, calls, work projects, personal TCB. Practice “uni-tasking.”
- When thinking of non-urgent communications after hours, email them to myself or save a draft and send during work hours in consideration of others.
- On phone and on the computer, turn off notifications, badges (the number counter of messages), and sounds.
- Set default home page on browser to a calming image on the web—currently a Zen rock garden.
- Always turn off work email at night, weekends, and vacations. Make it hard for yourself to check those messages.
- When reading articles online (using the Safari browser), use the Reader function whenever available to reduce distractions.
- Instead of getting onto social media sites and being sucked into all the diversions there, install a Facebook or Twitter bookmarklet on your browser, which allows you to share websites quickly and simply.
In researching my final two selections of dumbphone, I am finding that I will have to do a lot of configuration to properly disable data features. The research alone has been intense and I’m finding out that most AT&T phones require a data plan. Sheesh!