While I was on holiday in Thailand this Chinese New Year, I decided to turn my WeChat off (note: close the app, disable notifications, and not open the app again) for five entire days.
The first day was hard. I am not only addicted to my phone (I’ll easily admit that) but also in touch with my family (read: a WhatsApp group mostly made for me and my sister to witness mum and dad discussing what they’re cooking for dinner that evening) almost every day, and in a long-distance relationship.
The second through fifth days were easier, and when I did turn my WeChat on again, there were over 200 messages waiting for me (not including muted groups). Now I realize this is probably not the case for people whose work situation doesn’t require them to communicate with people via WeChat all day long, but the days without WeChat were so relaxing I decided to do some research on putting your phone away.
Turning off your WeChat makes you realize how much more productive you are when you’re not constantly on your phone, not to mention how great it is to have a meal with somebody without having your phone out and to fully appreciate your time or evenings off. Remember this mantra: you don’t always have to be on call.
What if you can’t put it away fully?
Of course, not all of us have the luxury of being offline for most of the day, so here are some little things you can do to create a little bit of distance between you and your phone without fully signing off:
- Put your phone on “Airplane Mode” for one hour per day
- Use social media only at your work desk to give it a clear beginning and end
- Only use one device at a time
- Replace your Kindle/iPad with a real-life book
- Buy an alarm clock to keep your phone away from your bed
- Don’t spend any time on your devices before bed
- Turn your notifications off
- Cull people you don’t care about from your Facebook and Instagram feeds
Another solution is to buy a tablet/iPad, put the apps you frequently use on there and delete them off your smartphone to leave your phone functioning mostly like, well, a phone.
You’re not missing anything important!
I’m not saying you have to fully get rid of your Instagram (because I’m not really looking to do that either) or to stop using the wonders of technology to keep in touch with your friends or family while you’re living abroad. Even just replacing your phone with an alarm clock can do wonders for your sleep. And if we’re being honest, even if your boss does message at 6am, 9.9 times out of 10, it can wait until you make it into the office.