9 Ways to Use ‘Tech Hygiene’ to Get More Done and Feel Happier
We’re pretty much hooked on our phones, but that’s just a fact of modern life, right? It doesn’t have to be that way. After all, like tequila and Netflix, too much of it can make us feel out of sorts, addled and pretty cranky (ever felt perfectly happy with your life, until you saw someone else’s latest post?). In Sophia Rose’s funny and informative booklet, Technological Hygiene: A Wise Guide to Connection in the Digital Age, the popular Instagram herbalist and folk healer details how to recognize and manage (not completely eradicate) your tech addiction.
Based in Austin, Texas and Joshua Tree, California, Rose spends her life basically trying to create a more fulfilling existence for herself and the rest of us. Rose’s well-researched and compassionate guide (yes, even spiritual types like her can be digitally dependent) inspired us to be more mindful of our constant tech usage. Here are 9 takeaways from Rose that we’ve tried, and you can too (even if you’re reading this on your iPhone RN).
1. Wait Two Minutes to Pick Up Your Device
Rose suggests that the next time you notice your phone vibrating, don’t reach for it or look at it for at least two minutes. The feelings of agitated curiosity it aroused in us—Is our family all right? Is there an important royal family development?!—made us realize we are dependent on news/entertainment tidbits to distract us from feelings of boredom and frustration in our day-to-day. (And we might be a little mixed up when it comes to our personal values, because why are a family text and a story about Kate Middleton’s new coat both equal alerts on our phone?)
2. Leave the Phone in the Car
Next time you visit with a friend, leave your phone behind at home or in the car or turned off in your purse. After you leave your friend, before you automatically pick up your phone, take a moment to note how you feel: Do you want to turn on your phone or check it? We were happy to resist the urge to check our phone, instead replaying the visit with our friend in our head. And, bummer, we really noticed how messy our car was.
3. Look at Your Fellow Tech Users
Next time you’re at a coffee shop or park, look around to see how many people are on their phones. Rose asks how this makes you feel, and if it makes you want to look at your own phone. To which I reply: Heck, yes, I want to look at my phone instead of looking at the other people waiting for their movie at the ArcLight. I mean, what if my eyes met someone else’s? That’d be creepy, right? Except, I think I remember learning something as a kid about just smiling at someone and it would be fine.
4. Use Tech to Manage Tech
The poet Audre Lorde famously wrote “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” But Rose has some suggestions to, well, unlock the digital rec room we’ve found ourselves in. At her suggestions, we downloaded the app Space, which asks us to take a few deep breaths before opening an app. The effect seemed silly at first, until we noticed we felt more energized and less rushed after so many deep breathing moments during the day. Other apps, like Moment and Freedom, help you measure your usage and coach you to spend less time on your phone.
5. Find a Home for your Phone
Make like Arianna Huffington and set up a charging station outside of your bedroom, using an alarm clock in your room instead. Admittedly, the first night sleeping sans phone was rough…what if there’s some international emergency we need to know about? What should we do to self-soothe if we wake up in the middle of the night? But then, after a couple of nights, we found our sleep was better, and we still managed to catch the new Netflix shows we needed to see.
6. Be Where You Are (Like, in a Restaurant)
The next time you are dining out with a friend and they go to the restroom, Rose suggests you resist the urge to check your phone and instead experience your surroundings—the smells, the sounds, the other diners. This made us super uncomfortable at first, but welp! We noticed we were a better dining companion because we’d used that time to focus on the conversation, and we could pick up where we left off—instead of getting derailed by whatever meme we’d just seen.
7. Skip Looking Up Directions
See if you can rely on your memory to get to your destination. Because with memory, if you don’t use it, you lose it. When we did this, we were surprised at how we actually made it across the 405 without help from Waze.
8. Do a Social Media Gut-Check
When you scroll through social media, notice which feeds make you feel “less than,” anxious or otherwise negative. Then—imagine!—delete them all. (Rose even gives readers permission to delete people you know, because “we all need a break sometimes, and that is okay.”)
9. Pare Down Your Home Screen
Move the apps that really distract you (Instagram, Bumble, Candy Crush) off your home screen, so that you’re not tempted to “just check in,” only to finally look up from your phone 30 minutes later. Put these distracting apps on a second or third page, and in folders, so that you need to work a bit to get in there.