Digital fasting might help you regain control of your time; here's how it works

Technology is distracting us.

We used to have organic conversations without using our phones. We used to make new friends at bars and other public places without meeting people through friends. We even used to meet strangers at new and strange places and sometimes become friends with them.


Crazy I know, but it’s true.

Now we have better options. We can protect ourselves from stranger danger and retreat to our phones.

But now we retreat too much. Our useful tactic for escape has taken us hostage and now the real world doesn’t satisfy us and we’ve become more anxious.

Every time we experience small periods of boredom, we hastily escape to our phones: music, games, videos. Anything we want at the touch of the button, except engaging with the reality around us in a deeper way.

That option it seems is off limits.

Well, maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe in order to experience a clearer vision of the world around us and enjoy it more completely we should take scheduled breaks from using our digital devices.

What does this type of break look like?

Well, it looks a lot like fasting. We simply stop using our digital devices that feed us these constant distractions for select periods of time and go without them.

The longer we stop being distracted by our digital devices, the more we engage with the reality around us and the less dependent we are on the virtual reality that comes from our phones.

It’s time to break free of our addiction to technology by adopting a technology diet to regain control of our lives.

What’s a technology diet?

A technology diet is limiting or stopping the use of certain types of technology over time.

Technology can refer to the type of devices you use (phones, tablets, computers, television, consoles) or the type of applications you use with them (social media, games, video).

Because technology addictions are created by triggering psychological mechanisms that are involved when you use them, technology diets focus on limiting the types of interactions that lead to addiction instead of the specific applications that use them (Facebook, Candy Crush, Fortnite, etc).

Why should I go on a technology diet?

Studies show the increase in how much we use technology in our everyday life can lead to a variety of bad outcomes.

Studies show increased social media usage can lead to anxiety and depression, and other mental disorders.

Studies show increased screen time from using phones and computers can cause eye strain, myopia, and difficulty sleeping.

Many of the new ways we engage with technology are addictive and lead to lower productivity and happiness.

A few of the benefits of adopting a technology diet:

  • feeling less anxious
  • having less eye strain
  • thinking more clearly
  • experiencing higher motivation

How do I go on a technology diet?

A technology diet is just like a normal diet.

Most diets fail when you make extreme changes to behavior and often result in quitting and not reaching your goals. That’s not something we want.

The best way to go on any diet is by making sustainable changes to your lifestyle that help you reach your goals.

So the best way to go on a technology diet is to adopt new habits you find sustainable.

If you want to regain control of your life and feel less anxious, a technology diet is worth trying.

Here’s my version of a technology diet. I call it Intermittent Digital Fasting.

How Intermittent Digital Fasting works

Intermittent Digital Fasting (IDF) restricts all non-intentional and non-self-directed use of technology outside certain periods of time.

Like other forms of fasting, IDF is defined by what you can’t do and when.

What can’t you do while Intermittent Digital Fasting?

  • no using social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc)
  • no watching online videos (Youtube, Amazon, Netflix)
  • no playing video games or phone games

When can’t you do these things while Intermittent Digital Fasting?

  • during the last 2+ hours you’re awake before you go to sleep
  • during the first 2+ hours you’re awake in the morning

What can you do while Intermittent Digital Fasting?

  • watch limited long-form media (movies, concerts, plays)
  • everything else

How long should you fast for?

Like intermittent fasting people should fast for the period of time that works with their lifestyle and provides the most benefit to them.

I find the same fasting periods people popularly follow while intermittent fasting (16:8 and 12hr+ circadian fasting) work well for me when I’m Intermittent Digital Fasting.

To receive the most benefits from IDF, you should fast from technology for at least 12 hours everyday.

Best practice is to begin your technology fasting period 2 hours before bedtime and continue fasting until lunch time.

If you’re following a 12 hour fast and begin working at 8am, that would mean you would begin fasting at 8pm.

How can I make Intermittent Digital Fasting easy?

Here are some simple steps that will help you adopt a sustainable routine to avoid digital distraction.

  1. schedule Do Not Disturb
  2. charge your phone away from your bedroom at night
  3. turn off WiFi at night

Schedule Do Not Disturb

The easiest way to kill digital distraction is with a single swipe.

iPhone and Android phones have Do Not Disturb settings that turn off notifications during the time periods you choose.

Schedule Do Not Disturb to follow your IDF schedule.

Do Not Disturb on iPhone

Here are instructions to set up Do Not Disturb on iPhone and Android.

Do Not Disturb makes it much easier to avoid notifications that distract you.

Stop charging your phone in your bedroom at night

Many people find charging their phone in their bedroom makes it easy to get distracted using it before bed. This makes going to sleep harder and hurts your quality of sleep at the same time.

Charging your phone in your bedroom sets up people to establish bad habits.

Instead of making a source of distraction instantly accessible to us at a time when we recharging ourselves for the next day, charge your phone in a room that’s not your bedroom at night.

Turn off wifi at night

The internet is a perilous thing when you’re looking to avoiding distraction.

If ultra-high-speed internet tempts you, there are a number of ways to increase your friction to use it during time periods you don’t want to:

  • unplug your router when you go to sleep
  • schedule your WiFi to turn off at night or on a schedule you choose

Do anything that makes it slightly harder for you to get distracted.