9 Digital Detox Tips That Are Simple, Yet Effective

4 min read
In this day and age, logging off completely isn't an option. Check out these can't-miss pointers for reducing your screen time.
In this day and age, logging off completely isn't an option. Check out these can't-miss pointers for reducing your screen time.

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Is there anything more haunting than your phone’s weekly screen time report? (Do we need to be reminded we’re spending an inordinate amount of time on Instagram?) But even if this handy iPhone feature takes a particularly unforgiving approach, the truth is that most of us could probably stand to scrutinize just how we’re spending our digital time—all the better to learn exactly when and where to unplug.

After all, for all the amazing ways technology now brings us together, there’s also emerging research and scientific opinions that caution against overdoing it (1)—from the physical (screen time’s impact on eye strain and sleep, for example) to general wellbeing (social media’s addictive nature). (2,3)

The caveat, of course, is that as our world becomes ever more dependent on connectivity, unplugging completely just isn’t reasonable. The art of digital detox in 2019 isn’t a matter of bunking off work for a week for a retreat in the woods. It’s about learning how to find balance in your daily life, and take advantage of those days (like holidays and weekends) when the demand to be online isn’t quite so high.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to travel far for advice: So many of the staffers at Ritual HQ have this whole screen time balance thing down to a science, from the way they arrange their apps to automated time limits on their devices. Bookmark their suggestions below.

Make the most of your iPhone’s built-in Downtime feature. (Psst: To enable it, go to Settings > Screen Time.)

“I have aggressive screen time settings on my phone. I set Downtime, where it locks me out of basically all my apps starting at 9pm thru 8am. Sometimes I outsmart it but it mostly does the trick!”

—Lauren, People Ops

Schedule a set “screen-free” time every day.

“I always set aside at least an hour after work to close my computer, turn my phone on airplane mode, and do something to unwind and connect back to reality, like yoga. If there’s anything pressing I need to work on, I allow myself to revisit it after that hour is up—but the beauty of taking that time for myself is that it puts a lot of my to-do list into perspective.”

—Victoria, Marketing

Lean into the data.

“The more data, the better—I rely on the app RescueTime (on my computer), so that I have a pulse on how much time I’m spending on websites or on certain categories. Then I pair that with the Gyroscope app, which gives it to me in aggregate.”

—Daniel, Engineering

Simple, yet effective: Let your phone die.

“Try not charging it. I’ve been doing this on the weekends.”

—Jackie, Customer Experience

Or start “forgetting” it.

“I am trying to stop taking my phone on: walks around the block; trips to the bathroom; my drive home.”

—Liz, COO

Artfully rearrange your home screen.

“I rearranged my apps so I have nothing on my home screen, only a few key apps on the second page (no folders, no social media), and the rest in folders on the third page. The folders only expose one app in them (usually the least addictive one like LinkedIn for the “social” folder) and everything is alphabetical. So any time I add a new app, everything is reorganized which prevents me from getting into mindless finger patterns that somehow magically open apps when I’m zoning out. “

—Steph, Experience Design

Employ an accomplice.

“One time I purposely gave my phone to my roomie for the day and just gave a little heads up to my peeps that I would be unavailable for the day. It was the best!”

—Vicky, Customer Experience

Opt for more passive technology.

“I actually find Apple Watch helps a ton—it removes the need to check your phone to see if you have a notification. It also lets me keep my phone somewhere like my bag and not carry it around all day.”

—Laura, Growth

Try deleting social media apps—even if it’s just during a busy week to minimize distraction.

“I deleted the Instagram app on my phone. Made a huge difference in screen time for me!”

—Kathryn, Marketing


  1. Hartley, S., Trevor, Jones, E., Haynes, T., Hacene, Y. C., George, … Edith, G. (2019, February 27). Dopamine, Smartphones & You... Retrieved from Harvard
  2. Sheppard, A. L., & Wolffsohn, J. S. (2018). Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmology, 3(1). doi: 10.1136/bmjophth-2018-000146
  3. Why screen time can disrupt sleep. (2018, November 27). Retrieved from Science Daily


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