Q: “My husband, my high school student, and I all have ADHD and are easily distracted. It’s super hard for us to disconnect from our electronic devices, and we lose track of time. For example, I’ll be working and start listening to music and get distracted of group texts or social media. Then I’m completely lost. My husband is always on Netflix. How can we make technology less of a distraction?” — HRF
In my coaching, I spend a lot of time discussing the internal triggers that drive us to become distracted. Boredom, the environment, and even the lack of movement all play an important role in why we reach for our technology again and again.
The truth is that our electronic devices and social media are designed to keep us on them for as long as possible. They are deliberately designed for us to fall down the proverbial rabbit hole! It’s a recipe for disaster for those of us who are easily distracted in the first place.
I firmly believe that we don’t need a ton of willpower to fight temptation. We just need to remove these temptations from our environment. (That’s why I don’t have ice cream in my house!)
I have developed strategies to help adults and students set up their electronic devices in ways that counteract potential distractions. Remember, the more effort it takes or the more uncomfortable it is to be distracted, the easier it is to stay focused.
[Get This Free Guide to Managing and Safeguarding Your Child’s Screen Time]
Here are 10 great ways to combat the “toll of the scroll” and engage in a digital detox.
Digital Detox Step #1: Unlock it
When you need to be in deep flow to get work done, put your phone in another room or lock it in a box, closet, or drawer. My son taught me this trick! When he was in college, we bought him a lock box for valuables, and he ended up using it to hide his phone while studying. It was literally the only way for him to disconnect and disconnect from his phone. Out of sight, out of mind.
Digital Detox Step #2: Use Silence or Airplane Mode
Want to eliminate all hum and buzz from an active phone? Put it on silent or airplane mode and turn off all push notifications. Updating this simple setting for even a few hours each day will eliminate the instant urge to jump on Instagram or TikTok. This is my first favorite. By turning off all sounds, I can forget that my phone is even around.
Digital Detox Step #3: Hide non-essential apps and browser tabs
Just as you would clear your physical workspace of paper or debris; I suggest you close and hide all non-essential apps and browser tabs on your phone or computer. That way, you only see what you’re currently working on.
Digital Detox Step #4: Put It on the Last “Page”
Move your most distracting apps into a folder and place it on the last “page” of your home screen. That way, even if you’re looking at your phone, you’re less tempted to open Instagram because it’s hidden.
[Self-Test: Could My Child Be Addicted to the Internet?]
Digital Detox Step #5: Be invisible
Mark yourself as invisible or gone so people know you’re unavailable.
Digital Detox Step #6: Remove Face Recognition or Touch ID
My mantra for those with ADHD or focusing challenges is that if it takes more than two to three steps to do something, you’re less likely to do it. So remove face recognition or tap ID to unlock your phone. Having to enter a password every time you want to use a device works to eliminate the “toll of the scroll”.
Digital Detox Step #7: Download Music
Download your music to listen offline and put your phone on airplane mode.
Digital Detox Step #8: Log Out of Social Media
Instead of staying logged in, log out of your social media accounts so you can’t jump back in at a moment’s notice. (Although this is simple, it has been a game changer for many of my clients.)
Digital Detox Step #9: Find a new browser
Encourage your son to use a different browser for schoolwork and “entertainment.” Out of sight, out of mind!
Digital Detox Tip #10: Turn off Autoplay
Turn off the autoplay feature on Netflix! Streaming platforms have this setting by default. If you have to physically choose your next hot episode, you’ll be more aware of how long you’ve been watching TV.
It is not easy to eliminate all distractions from our electronic devices. But with a solid plan in place, you’ll at least be more aware of how much time you’re spending on them, which is a great first step!
Digital Detox with ADHD: Next Steps
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