5 Ways to Make Your Digital Detox More Productive by Chris Bailey

Digital Detox - The Productivity Project

One of my favourite daily rituals is reading for (at least) an hour. I’ve had it for years. While most hours of my day are taken up with meetings, phone calls and the deluge of daily life, almost every single evening that time is mine. I leave my laptop, iPad and phone in the other room, pour a cup of herbal tea and crack open a good book—I usually have a bunch on the go, so I can almost always find one I’m curious about in the moment.

But so often despite my best intentions, life gets in the way of that hourly detox. Appointments come up, friends and family call, my mind is racing to a thousand places at once, or I find myself resisting the ritual for whatever reason—despite how rewarding I invariably find it.

Over time I’ve developed a few ways of defending that time, so I can cherish it even more. I humbly present five of these strategies to help you with your reading ritual as well!

  1. Keep a distractions list. Whether internal or external, it’s hard to prevent distractions and interruptions from coming up when you’re in the middle of something. That’s why I keep a notepad next to me during my reading ritual. When distractions come up—whether I remember something I have to do, a brilliant idea strikes me, or my phone rings in the other room—I simply make a note of it so I can continue reading and deal with it later on. This lets me immediately quit worrying because I know I’ll deal with it after. Over time, this has let me dive deeper and deeper into the book in front of me.
  2. Totally disconnect. Because I’m a weirdo, I like to track how many pages I read every day. I find I invariably read more, and enjoy what I’m reading more, when I totally unplug before I jump into a good book. Instead of spreading my attention in a thousand directions, I channel it in one and enjoy myself so much more.
  3. Remember: you have more time than you think. No matter how busy you feel, chances are you have more time than you think. Life has a tendency to expand to fit how much time we have available for it—that’s why that curious phenomenon exists where, no matter how busy you are, as soon as the new season of House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black drops, you miraculously find time to watch the entire season in just a few days. You have the time—you probably just spend it on other things.
  4. Make it a habit. Forming new habits is my favorite way to level up to become more productive automatically. When you read each day at the same time and place,  you ritualize the practice and over time you’ll automatically level up to enjoy your day that much more.
  5. Shrink your resistance. I love to read—next to butter chicken, reading is one of my favorite things. But sometimes, for whatever reason, my mind resists the ritual—especially when I find myself reading something tedious, like a book that’s dry and academic. When my mind resists a book (and I want to keep reading it), I simply shrink the amount of time I spend reading until I no longer feel that resistance. For example: “Do I want to read for 60 minutes today? Naw, the thought of it puts me off. 45 minutes? Better, but still…Okay, 30 minutes? Sure—I’ll read for 30 minutes!” Chances are, once you reach that initial limit you’ll want to keep going anyway. This same tactic also works wonders for other habits, like working out or meditating.

I hope you find these tactics as helpful as I have!

The Productivity Project
Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy
Chris Bailey