Let’s face it. No one can take a Hush vacation every day. But developing healthy habits with technology isn't just a good idea for everyday life, but it’s also a great way to prepare for and optimize a digital detox before you go. So here are a couple tools that can help you take mini digital sabbaticals throughout the working week, no matter where you are:
1. Self Control - Internet blocker for Macs
Yes, the icon makes it look like you’re actively downloading a computer virus, but so far, it seems you’re not. Instead, it’s a simple app that lets you choose the length of time you want to be blocked from from the internet along with which sites you’d like to block.
2. Cold Turkey - Internet blocker for Android phones and Windows computers (should be releasing a Mac version soon)
The nice thing about this app is that Cold Turkey's blocking features are computer-wide, which affects all the browsers on your computer. That means no more sneaking to other browsers. The app also allows you to reward yourself, by scheduling breaks in the lock-out. The free version lets you block specific website for up to three days. And then, for a one-time cost of about $15, you can also block certain programs and games.
3. Drunk Locker App - Social Media Blocker for Androids
For most of us, social media is a wormhole that kills all productivity. But for some of us, it kills relationships and job prospects too. So, as the name implies, this app is intended to block you from any incriminating online activity after you’ve imbibed a little too much. But it also works great for blocking social media any other time of day too. If the newsfeed is your drug of choice, this app’s for you.
4. Forest - iPhone App that locks you out of your phone
This beautifully designed little app gamifies putting down your phone and also plays to your sense of humanity. Simply tell the app how long you want to be locked out of your phone, and a tree grows in that time. If you have to get back in before the allotted time, the little tree dies. But if you stick to your guns repeatedly, you can eventually grow a whole forest. Sounds silly, but somehow more effective than a simple lock, if you’re a human with emotions about killing things.
5. Kitchen Safe - real-life safe for your phone or tablet
Can’t help but love the analog flair of this one. It’s a physical safe that locks up your phone. Or a cupcake. Or triple fried twinkie. Whatever you’re into. And unless you take a hammer to this bad boy, you will not be getting in until the timer is done. As a nice sadistic addition, it’s clear. So you can see all your notifications coming in. You just can’t do anything about it. Pain and pleasure go hand in hand, right?
6. Flux - Computer app that limits your blue light intake
Here are the basics. Our bodies produce melatonin when it gets dark outside. It's a hormone that helps us sleep better at night and feel rested the next day. Unfortunately, the blue light from our laptops and phones can actually inhibit our body’s productions of melatonin. Ever noticed you’re wired after a five-hour Netflix binge? This is why. So Flux is a little app that syncs with your local sunset time and slows the computer’s blue light emissions when it starts getting dark. This way, you get tired at a natural time and sleep better at night. It also serves as a great way to get your sleep in rhythm before a Hush vacation. In addition to the computer app, you can download it to your phone. But this requires a little bit of hacking and potentially befriending or dating an IT guru. So it might be easier to just note when your laptop Flux starts dimming and turn off your phone for the night.
7. Headspace - Meditation App available for iPhone or Android
You can cut off all technology in the world. But if you’re mind is still ticking away at something you’ve gotta do, gotta post, gotta read, then a digital detox might prove a little useless. That’s where Headspace comes in. It’s an app that provides bite-sized, intro-level guided meditations. And the first ten are free. It helps train the mind to slow its roll, so that your chill muscles are ready and bulked for your next digital detox.
8. Spire - Wearable that tells you when you're freaking out
Ever been in a meeting where your colleagues keep saying acronyms out loud, like ROI and EOD? This wearable piece of technology sends you text alerts anytime you’re altering your breathing, you know, due to stress, rage or general human idiocy. The app helps you be more aware of your own anxiety levels or reactions to stress and take control of those responses. Ultimately, a little reminder to keep it chill can also prevent work hangovers when you finally make it to a Hush Vacation. (See, not all technology is evil.)
9. Good Ole Airplane Mode
Because who’s not relaxed when a flight attendant berates you over the PA system? But seriously, Airplane Mode costs zero dollars. Available for Android and iPhone. (Little Dad joke for ya.) And it’s a tried and true way to take photos or listen to music, all without letting emails or Snapchats pull your attention from wherever you intend it to be. Airplane Mode makes for perfect Hush training wheels. And if it’s tough to pull off for even a Saturday, all the better. Because a few hours in Airplane Mode can help you check in with the true state on your phone addiction. And isn't awareness the first step to recovery?
Now, you're probably thinking. “Oh, all these apps will help me focus on a big project at work without being distracted! I can just turn them on and really crunch away at the keyboard.”
Sure, that's a natural response to new productivity tools. But at first, maybe challenge yourself to try these apps during a coffee date or dinner instead. Or even for a lunch away from your desk. Remember those? All these nifty tools just might be a way to better enjoy the company. Or the food (no photos please). Or simply, a moment of Hush.