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Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Generation J Toolbox

Five things I learned from a digital detox

By Victoria Reitano

#DIGITALDETOX. This may be the most ironic hashtag ever used, but I found out a lot when I went on a self-imposed digital detox over the Christmas-New Year stretch. I learned about the things I wanted to share, how people interact with media and what news I missed while I stepped out of the digital space.

Here are five things I learned about my habits that I will be incorporating into my daily routine to help me maintain a calm work-life balance all year long.

1) EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS

I had the ability to completely shut off my email during my digital hiatus, so I didnít have to worry about bings and chirps from my iPhone. I noticed that I didnít feel the need to click on the email app as many times as I normally would if I had notifications to clear. I plan to keep notifications off (no taunting from a number signaling how many unread emails you have) and just set my work email to a special sound and vibration to make sure I answer those emails. Using the VIP list on an iPhone is also a great workaround ó it helps you get to emails that you have to get to right away, like ones from your boss or co-workers.

2) SHARING IS CARING

Sharing your experiences is a great way to build your personal brand. As long as youíre still enjoying it, thereís nothing wrong with maintaining that practice throughout a digital detox or vacation. When managing a professional brand, itís easy to get caught up in all the things you have to share on a daily basis. Make a digital plan with the have-to-share items and the want-to-share items for both your personal and professional brands. This will help you pepper both sets of accounts with anecdotes that help show your brand personality.

3) DIGITAL DETOX DOESNíT MEAN COLD TURKEY

I didnít even read a newspaper during my vacation and found that I was actually hungry for news. I manage digital presences all day long, so I personally felt that that was necessary, but as my detox continued, I realized that I could still add some of my personal routine into a digital detox, with a twist. Instead of checking Twitter, Facebook and email as soon as my alarm goes off, I am going to take a few moments to go through my morning routine. Try to hold off on checking this until after youíve worked out, had breakfast, sent your kids off to school ó whatever you do to ďstartĒ your day. Take time to do it and then jump into your emails and social accounts.

4) PUT DOWN THE PHONE

Looking through photos from the past year, Iíve realized that I hold my phone ó a lot. This detox helped me realize that if you truly want to savor an experience, itís important to put the phone away. If you want to take photos, by all means, keep your phone handy, but then try to hold off on sharing until after your event. For breaking news, this wonít always work, but if you decide to do this at work, youíll see that you have the opportunity to really think about captions, quotes and the photos that will make an impact before just posting the first thing that comes to mind.

5) HIDE THE APPS

Having Facebook, Twitter and email on your home screen (or even having your browser open them all right away) may seem like a good idea, but it actually stops you from being productive. Set a time to scan your feeds (or apps) at the top of every hour, or every other hour depending on your personal and professional needs. Hide the apps on your home screen in a special folder or, perhaps, add them to the second screen. Set up Twitter notifications for specific accounts so you donít have to worry about missing that one crucial tweet.

Overall, I learned that I do need to step away from my devices for a few hours each week, but I also learned that sharing for personal reasons enhances my experiences and skills.

How do you stay focused on your experiences and share them? Tweet me @giornalista515 to tell me your tips and tricks.

Victoria Reitano is a digital producer for ďbethennyĒ and co-chairwoman of SPJís Generation J Committee. She writes about trends and focuses on social media. She lives in New York City. Interact on Twitter: @giornalista515.

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