How to Create a Tech Detox Rhythm of Renewal

Tech detox. It sounds lovely doesn’t it? A time when you don’t have to be on screens. Notifications aren’t constantly dinging in every room of the house, or when you are out and about. Or maybe it sounds stressful to you. What would you do if you couldn’t scroll for a time, or didn’t know what was going on in the neighborhood, or the world for that matter?

I am a millennial, but I am one of the elder millennials, the Oregon Trail generation, the xennial. That means that I remember growing up before email, before social media, but we use those things constantly today. We were still part of the latchkey kid generation, being out until the street lights came on. We fully use technology, and are good at it, but we also remember a time before tech that seemed simpler. That is part of the reason so many of us feel the pull of a tech detox.

Generational differences aside, I believe a tech detox is important for everyone.

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It is something that Rebekah Lyons explores in her book Rhythms of Renewal. This is the book I am using this year to help me create my own rhythm of renewal. It is part of my 2024 goals to create a rhythm of rest and renewal, and I have been feeling the pull for so long that a tech detox is part of it. We talked recently about taking an inventory of your life and having a tech detox was one of the big lessons that came out of that practice for me.

What is a Tech Detox?

That is where we should start, isn’t it? What exactly is a tech detox? It could mean a number of things to a number of different people. I hear it most often called a digital detox. You can see it listed on WebMD as “a period of time where you intentionally reduce the amount of time you spend on your devices.”

How does that definition make you feel? Does it make you say “yes! sign me up!” or does it scare you a little bit? I fall firmly in the “yes! sign me up!” camp. However implementing said tech detox is what really gives me pause.

When you create your own parameters for this rhythm, this tech or digital detox, you have a lot to consider. You have your kids, your work, your homeschool, communicating with people in activities that you participate in. Our tech lives are deep and wide. We are fully connected to the world through the devices we keep in our bags. The real question is how can we commit to something that seemingly takes us completely off the grid?

There are no landlines anymore, there are few spaces where we gather without technology in order to meet together. Even our churches seem to be tech savvy with their online sermon notes, communication about events through facebook. Homeschooling is a tech-based affair, especially as you get to high school. The classes are more difficult, and homeschool parents need additional help. We are blessed because we have the opportunity to use these online tools, and it isn’t easy to step away from those resources.

When you took the time to do a life inventory, did you see any pain points with technology? Or was that not on your radar? In order to figure out the how, we need to understand the what. And that is going to be a personal decision for each person. What are the parameters you will put in place for your own tech detox?

Create Parameters

This is a challenging question to answer for me personally. As you can read, I am an online content creator. I have a wonderful membership community that I lead. I am a homeschool parent who utilizes a lot of online resources for my kids education. There is not one activity that we are involved in either as a family or individually that doesn’t use social media in order to communicate information.

Come check out my membership community where we are taking a deeper dive on this very topic!

Those are a lot of hills to climb in order to be able to even consider a tech detox. You are going to have to consider them in your own personal life as well. I can tell you that it is not easy. I have struggled a long time with this question.

Years (many, many years) ago, I got a facebook account for the first time. I had already graduated from college, but still had my college email, so I could get around that requirement. I kept that account for a long time. But, then I decided to delete it, and I did. I had a ton of friends, I had pictures and events lined up, but I just deleted it. I took a completely clean break. And that is how it stayed, for a while. Then I started a new Facebook account.

Again, I kept it for a while. I went through creating and deleting facebook accounts for years it seems, until I landed on my current facebook account January 4th, 2013. Why did I sign up for that account? I needed it for my business. When I would write content, I would need to share that content on Facebook and Twitter. It was no longer OK to just have long form content on my website. I needed to get with the times. So I did.

Is it even possible?

As the years have gone on, I have tried to distance myself from social media. As a rebel on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies the fact that my job dictates a certain level of social media usage irks me a bit. I don’t feel like I should have to use social media for my business, unfortunately most people disagree. So, I begrudgingly share, but that is almost where it stops. I am not one to sit on social media and look at what people are doing, following people from high school whom I don’t know in real life anymore.

It used to be different. It used to be me looking at all of these people that I “know” and trying to figure out what was going on in their lives. But, the algorithm messed that up for me. I no longer saw a snapshot into someone’s day at a particular point in time like I used to on instagram. Instead, it was a carefully curated group of photos that had nothing to do with the “insta” part of instagram. So I didn’t use it anymore. You can actually see in my instagram feed where I stopped posting nearly as much because I was so irritated with the whole thing!

But, even though I have reduced my personal usage, I haven’t completely walked away from it. There are still days where I choose to decompress by mindlessly scrolling instead of doing something else. What does that mean? That I can choose parameters that still work for me specifically. But what are they?

Tech Detox Baby Steps

I made the decision to take baby steps. When you take stock of your life and realize the amount of stuff that you actually do on technology, it is eye-opening. Every time you pay a bill, or check your bank balance, it is on technology. When you want to connect with a friend, you send them a text or a message on Facebook or Instagram. If you decide to have a birthday party for your child, you create a Facebook event. Is it possible to take baby steps away from technology?

The answer is, of course, yes.

Recently I finished my re-read of Andy Crouch’s The Tech-Wise Family. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. He advocates for at least one hour per day, one day per week, and one week per year completely off of technology. Is that manageable? Yes, it is. You can choose to have your hour each day be during dinner where you chat with your family without screens. One day each week can be when you practice a Sabbath day – you are at church, you are playing games and reading books, you are off technology. The one week each year can be a little more challenging of course. You may want to document the experience through pictures and videos. But, maybe not posting it in realtime to the internet is what happens. Instead, you fully engage with your experience.

The more challenging aspect of this is that it is aimed at your entire family. That can be a bit harder to swallow. So, perhaps you start with yourself. You set the tone for the day. You don’t bring your phone to the table. Instead of watching TV and scrolling on your phone on Sunday, you pick up a book to read, or focus on a hobby that you don’t normally take time for.

This is similar to when decluttering – you start with your own stuff, and hopefully your significant other and family will follow your lead. Implementing baby steps will help you feel like you are making progress (because you are!) while also not making drastic changes that you don’t know how to get out of.

What about DRASTIC Change?

Is that possible? Again, yes, but you have to really figure out your parameters before you can implement a full stop tech detox. You need to understand where you are going to make changes in order to still focus on living your life – what rules will you put in place?

I loved reading the books The Winter of Our Disconnect, and What Falls from the Sky, as well as articles by Paul Miller about his year with no internet. But, these were written over a decade ago. Would it still be possible today? And were these experiments only possible because they were centered around someone’s job – writing a book or creating articles for a publication that is allowing you to have this extreme experiment is different than an everyday person deciding to shut screens off for a year.

It is something interesting to consider. And something I have considered many times in the past. What would it be like to go completely tech free? What about a year with no internet? How would we survive? What changes would we need to make to our homeschool days? What about my work? How could I comfortably get things done without tech? What about my family? How could they continue working on their own passion projects without technology? Have we become so intwined with technology that we cannot step away from it?

How do you create a tech detox rhythm of renewal?

You start small. That is the theme for the year, simplifying. You start to make little adjustments. Perhaps you decide to turn off notifications on your phone. Then maybe you decide to only have screens on for a family movie on the weekend. Maybe you only use social media during a specific time-block during your day.

There are a lot of little ways that you can make change. And these little ways add up to big change in your life. Just as you take small, incremental steps in your goals, so it is the same for creating a tech detox rhythm of renewal. Taking time away from social media, away from the things that cause you the most stress is important to your general well-being and that of your family.

I am really excited to continue exploring this topic over the next several weeks. But, first you need to think of your own parameters. What small steps do you want to make? What are the pain points that you can address today with small habit changes? Look at the areas that bring you joy, keep those things, but let go of the things that cause you stress and anxiety.

Changes I am making

The first thing I did this year was to go through all of my social media accounts and unfollow people. Am I done? Nope, not by a long shot. Part of the reason is because Facebook makes it incredibly challenging to actually unfollow pages and people. It is something that is part of my January goals.

As to my quarterly goals, I will continue to explore what a tech detox means for me and my family. I hope to come up with a great plan that I can easily implement. But, it won’t come without struggle, without adjustment, and without a whole lot of work. Truly evaluating needs vs. wants within a tech framework is going to be important.

I will be utilizing the one hour per day, one day per week, one week per year strategy that Andy Crouch talks about. Also, I will look to see if there are more ways that I can take time off. Perhaps more social media fasts – pausing my facebook group, making sure I have a communication routine. Taking more time to pre-plan content for YouTube so I am not spending as much time in the normal day-to-day trying to manage those things.

How about you? Do you take time for a tech detox rhythm of renewal? Are there steps you would like to take, but they feel too big to actually overcome? Is there one small thing you can do today to put you on the right path? Let me know in the comments!

If you would like to explore this topic further, I would love for you to come check out our membership community where we are working through this together as a community!

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