We spent December 2019 researching digital habits and atittudes towards technology of 247 knowledge workers in various countries, and will now start sharing our findings.
Unsurprisingly, more than half of those surveyed (57%) felt their relationship with technology could and should be more balanced.
In pursuit of this goal, almost two thirds of us (61%) are yearning to cut down on the time we spend online, having sometimes or often thought about limiting tech time. Four in 10 (40%) reported finding it difficult to stop online activity once they had started. 52% of us find ourselves drawn to our devices and distracted by digital tools when trying to focus on an offline task.
Social media was named as the most popular area people were looking to cut back in the new year, with over half of respondents (56%) aspiring to trim their social media usage.
Unhelpfully, more than 8 out of 10 (83%) of today’s workers sleep in the same room as their phones, and nearly half of us (43%) now often eat in front of a screen, the research reported.
Unhelpfully, more than 8 out of 10 (83%) of today’s workers sleep in the same room as their phones, and nearly half of us (43%) now often eat in front of a screen, the research reported.
A shocking 80% of respondents confessed to using phones, computers and tablets right before going to sleep, with 45% of us having trouble getting a good night sleep.
In contrast, only 4% of us take time to get out in the natural world each day, and just 9% of respondents take time to squeeze in a physical activity each day.
Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina, founder of Consciously Digital, commented: “Our research shows our working generation is becoming increasingly distracted by digital devices, with a worrying number of us suffering sleep problems or finding it hard to focus on the task at hand. While the rising tide of technology in our homes and in our workplaces definitely brings value, it also brings the need for balance – and this research unveils a nation crying out for better online-offline balance.”
The survey revealed an overflow effect of our technological tactics on friends and family. A stomping 67% of us have felt the bite of irritation at loved ones and acquaintances spending too much time with tech. In more extreme cases, one in six (15%) of us are facing regular reminders from friends and family to ditch the digital devices and engage in more face to face time.
If you are a press member and would like more information about the study, incl methodology, numbers etc please contact us via contact form.
The biggest news of the past year is that Consciously Digital Coach Training program is now officially recognized by International Coach Federation (ICF). It means that we are the only organisation in the world as of January 2020 that is certified to train digital wellness coaches by the biggest and most authoritative coaching association in the world.
Are you a coach or trainer thinking of enlarging your client base? Are you a developer or digital marketing professional who wants to do more meaningful work? Are you a parent preoccupied by the impact of devices on your children? Our 6 months training program can help you establish the career in a fast growing sector of digital wellbeing and be recognized by the most authoritate organization in the world.
Waitlist for 2020 intake is open until February, details here.
Four years ago, around this time of the year, I decided to get rid of my smartphone.
I wanted to feel less stressed, and more in touch with myself. It took me five painful months to fully detach myself from life with my phone, and if I had known then what I am about to share with you now, it would have been faster and less annoying.
Here's my top tips for a more minimalist smartphone usage:
Don't see it as a loss
Whether you are going to cut down your usage, or ditch your smartphone completely, start with a clear vision of what you would rather be doing with your time instead.
When they're making resolutions, a lot people focus on what they don’t like, or what they want to give up, rather than focussing on what their ideal life may look like. So, once their phone has been removed, they may find themselves lost and frustrated.
Make a list all of the things that you would love to do if you had more time, and visualise your ‘perfect day’ with less (or no) smartphone usage. What would you do instead of checking emails in the morning, or on the bus?
How would you like to soothe yourself when you come home from work feeling tired at the end of the day, if looking at your phone isn't an option?
The more honest and detailed your vision is, the more likely you are to succeed.
Change your environment to remove triggers
When the US military fought in Vietnam, 20 per cent of them got addicted to heroin, which was cheap and accessible.
However, when veterans returned home and went through a rehabilitation program, 9 out of 10 overcame the addiction, which at the time was considered irreversible. As a result, the head of the rehabilitation program discovered that habits could be changed fast if there is a radical change in the addict's environment.
For this reason, the easiest way to change your digital habits is to ditch your phone completely for at least a month, try and make other changes in your environment. For example, get a ‘sleeping box’ for it, and don’t keep it in the bedroom, don’t check it in the same places, don’t take it with you all the time in the evening, and only check your social media from a computer. The mere presence of our devices is already a trigger.
Perhaps the thought of ditching your phone for a minimum of a month brings you out in a cold sweat. It might be that you need a phone for your work, or you need to be contactable in case of emergencies. There is no need to stay without any connection though, and a 'dumb phone' (a phone that has no internet) is a perfect alternative solution.
Another option is to keep your smartphone, but have the sim-card only in the dumb one, so you have smartphone as a spare device. Test it for a few weeks and see how it goes.
Create a set of rules for yourself (but not too many)
Your pre-frontal cortex, where your willpower and self-control live, are constantly challenged by more ancient parts of the brain responsible for your survival.
Because 'smart' devices often appeal to these ancient regions of the brain, your brain may subconsciously perceive your attempt to remove your phone as a survival threat, and so might actually try to sabotage you.
So, rather than relying solely on your willpower, create rules for yourself and decide on when, where and how you’ll use your technology.
For example, perhaps you can only use the phone in one part of the flat, where it’s attached to the charger. Or maybe you have to put the phone out of sight while you're trying to focus on reading.
It will take your brain on average 45 days to build this new habit, so stick with these rules at least for that time period to make it easier.
Be disciplined, but gentle with yourself
You’ll have to plan more, and be better organised once you change your digital habits, as information won’t be there every time you need it. Make sure you look up your itinerary, plan your route, and write down phone numbers of people you will be meeting before you leave the house.
In spite of your best efforts, you may fail sometimes. Treat failure as a learning opportunity, and keep building your new habits. Have some sympathy for yourself.
After all, if you overdo it on hot chocolate one day, that's no reason to abandon healthy eating habits altogether. It’s not about how perfect you can be, but rather how fast you can go back to eating healthily again.
Every day that you win your mind over your smartphone, will help you build better digital habits and ultimately a happier life.
(spoiler: all it takes is a bit of focus and planning)
If you want to avoid packed airports and inflated prices over Christmas, but still have a good rest, you can design your own retreat staying at home. The only investment you’ll need to make is time, because the better you prepare, the more amazing your retreat will be. On the contrary, if you don’t plan your time, most likely your Christmas days will end up being filled by mindless browsing in the internet and social media chats, and you will not feel rested.
So let’s design together your low-budget staycation for this Christmas! Just follow these steps.
1. List what you enjoy and expect from a regular great retreat (time required: 10 minutes)
It can be physical attributes of a place, activities or how the whole experience makes you feel.
For example, here are my thoughts:
2. Decide, what you need to organize (time required: 25 minutes)
Once you have the list above, go one item after the other, and think of what it would take to recreate this atmosphere at home. Draw a table. On the left, write down the item, and on the right, what it means for you on a practical level. For example:
So for each of the things you’ve mention in item 1, write multiple things of what you can do, and what you need to plan to make this happen. If you know that you keep your phone next to your bed as an alarm clock and want to avoid browsing through Instagram first thing in the morning, maybe buy an alarm clock. You get the idea.
Think of what you could do to make this staycation not just a good, but a really great experience for yourself. Now re-read the whole thing. Does it look appealing enough? If the answer is no, review it, and add more fun and pleasurable things. Your retreat should not be yet another to-do thing on your list, but rather a supportive and memorable experience. Make sure that you have structured time, but also some time just to allow yourself to relax and do nothing.
Make sure you dedicate special attention to how you will use technology over this break. What will be a supportive use? What make you tired and needs to be eliminated or reduced? How would you do it without relying on your willpower?
Remember that our brains always default to the least difficult solution, so if you haven’t planned your tech use and activities that you enjoy, you’ll probably end up glued to your phone. No judgement if that’s what you want to rest, but most of us would rather do something else.
3. Convert this table into a to-do list (time required: 15 minutes)
Column on the right from the above is essentially your to-do list for the remaining days before Christmas to get yourself organized. Open your agenda and write down when you’ll do each of the steps. For example, I know that I need to set aside time to plan my activities around Christmas, so I will set up 15 minutes today to think through. If I know that I need to buy some elements for beautiful environment, I will set up 2 hours on Thursday to go to the shop.
4. Print out your schedule for the staycation (time required: 5 minutes)
Once you have your perfect schedule (not to-do list), print it out and put it somewhere where you’ll see it every day (next to your bed, by the entrance, in the bathroom, or next to your devices are all good places). You may want to print out several copies. Here is what my holiday schedule looks like.
You may have noted that rather than planning specific activities, I try to use time blocking technique, which gives me enough flexibility to change my plans and not get frustrated if I am a bit late. I also allowed specific time during the day when I will go and check my devices to give me piece of mind during other times.
5. Make a non-negotiable commitment (time required: 5 minutes)
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of the whole planning experience. The more thoroughly you do it, the better your experience will be.
Look at your plan, and imagine yourself following it every day for whatever period you have designed it. How does it make you feel? (if uncertain, go back to it and redesign it, it must feel really appealing). Allow yourself to feel this excitement. What would it be like to have lived this experience? Now visualise yourself NOT doing this experience. What would this feel like?
Then make a commitment to yourself to stick to it, and agree with yourself for a support system (for example, if you don’t follow what you’ve planned and fall into behaviour you dislike, you’ll have to pay 50 euros/pounds to charity). This way, you are anchoring both positive experience and a possible unpleasant cost of breaking your commitment.
Enjoy your retreat and happy holidays!
PS If you want to treat yourself with a proper retreat, we're organizing a digital detox this year in beautiful Barcelona - check out, when the next one is!
Live in a historical villa in Barcelona area, enjoy the sun, explore local wineries, connect with like-minded people, and study from Consciously Digital founder in the first Consciously Digital coaching fundamentals retreat, 5-8th July 2019. More information here.
We are on the mission to help people be more mindful about how they use technology. We regularly organize events, talks, workshops talking about how to use and design technology more consciously and are building a strong community around the world. We need someone to help us manage it.
Position: Community and PR Intern
Location: Barcelona, Spain or remotely
Time commitment: 20 hours per week June to September (3 months). Up to you, how you distribute this time.
What you'll get from it: you'll be part of the fast growing company in a newly emerging digital wellness sector. Working with us, you'll see what it's like to be building a successful business from the scratch, how to prioritise, make good business decisions and recover from bad ones :), how to do content marketing, community outreach, how your work directly impacts others etc. And you'll read a lot of stories about our relationships with technology :))
Payment: we'll cover your expenses if you are local, when we get together (transport, lunch etc). Otherwise happy for you to work from home. We'd ideally love to hire you after this internship, and offer a proper paid full-time or part-time position - if we are both happy.
You'd be doing some of such tasks:
- search online for relevant articles, stories etc.
- post on CD's social media and keep them updated on a weekly basis
- engage with our existing followers and answer their inquiries
- search for interesting conversations happening on Twitter and Anastasia could "contribute"
- research for accounts (on Twitter) to expand our community
- be responsible to keep our Meetup organisers motivated by brainstorming ideas for meetups, and providing useful material that they can use
- search for local facebook groups/meetups/influencers that we could promote our events
- search for venues/partners that could host our events
- write blog posts
Who we are looking for:
How to apply
Please, submit your application via this link before the 1st June 2019
The first intake has finished their first month, and we are opening for the second one! First participants came from 5 continents. Do you want to work with a group of diverse people on helping others become more consciously digital? Then check out our train the trainers program - early bird price is valid until Feb 15th.
Are you overwhelmed with searching for original presents? We’ve prepared a list of 10 presents that you can give you colleagues, loved ones or even to yourself to be a bit more digitally conscious in 2019!
Ramesh Mourthy worked for more than 15 years in software industry in the US and the UK, until he realized he was not happy with what he was doing and his life was feeling "too mechanical". He left his job of an identity architect in a big gaming company to start his own sustainable farming business in India. In the new episode of Consciously Digital podcast, Anastasia talks to Ramesh about slowing down in the increasingly fast world, his search for balance and why technology makes us rush.
Think of making a first step in finding a more balanced life? Check our events all around Europe.
The idea of digital minimalism is not to reduce how much time you spend online, but rather to focus on what really matters, and ignore all the rest (inevitably, this will reduce less useful time spent online). Holiday season might be just the best time to do that, as you have far less social pressure to catch up with all.
So here are my five ways to be a digital minimalist:
1. Don’t carry devices with you at all times. Stop making yourself constantly available. But do make sure people know in advance when you are available (relationship management).
Why: as one famous entrepreneur says, mobile phones are a way for other people to impose their agenda on you. And now in addition to other people, it’s bots and internet companies that do the same, and this will only increase. Either you are in charge of your time, or your device is. If you have it around with you at all times, it’s likely the second option.
2. Accept the idea that someone will be unhappy and you may lose some opportunities… but what you gain instead, is an increased focused and more energy in your brain for a few things that matter.
A client, a busy business woman, finally allowed to convince her to unplug for 48 hours, and was relieved to discover that the business kept running as it should, the team was able to cope with problems on its own. Now she is determined to make it a regular practice.
Why: our attention is a limited resource. If we are paying attention to multiple things, we are taking away attention from what is truly important. We have to start making choices.
3. Before you look at your devices in the morning, write down on a piece of paper 2-3 things that will make a true difference if you do them. Stick the note to your monitor. Now switch your computer and start by focusing on what will make the most difference, not by checking everything else.
Why: decision-making requires lots of attention, and self-control consumes lots of brain energy. When we are distracted and/or presented with exciting opportunities internet offers us all the time, we cannot take good decisions, less so control ourselves all the time.
4. Review, how many social media platforms you use
Only keep those you truly enjoy using, or that you need for work. To determine it, try not logging into one for one week. Did work or relationships suffer? If nothing changed, you can probably easily live without it. Or log into it a couple of times per month.
Why: Just managing all of them requires lots of attention to you. Every notification you receive schedules a little time in your brain to act upon it (check, reply, like etc). It might be small, but they accumulate quickly.
5. Don’t open multiple tabs at once
One task, 1-2 tabs max. When done, take a break and switch to a different task.
Why: I wrote multiple times that humans are not good at multitasking (proven by experiments in Stanford and other places). When we do that, we lose up to 40% of our productive time.
Bonus point: Revise all your paid online subscriptions
It’s tiring, but find a couple of hours to make a list of all online services you use (Amazon, eBay, Netflix, Coursera etc) and revise if you have any ongoing subscriptions that you don’t use. One client discovered he could save up to 300 pounds per month when he finally got down to cancel all subscriptions he was not using.
PS If you want more tips, check out Homo Distractus book, or How to be a digital minimalist webinar
Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.