image-desert-shutterstock_130210508Warning: Before you read this article, be sure to read the cartoon first.

Ok now, that you’ve read it, we ask: Are you a digital addict? Do you sleep with your phone on your nightstand so that you can check it just before going to bed and immediately when you wake up? Do you check your email every time you hear the sound indicating you received a new message? Are you frequently using your phone during social situations or when you’re with family? Do you feel naked when you discover your left your home without your smartphone? If so, then you may have a problem.

Spend a few minutes on the Internet and you can find a wealth of articles about digital addiction, attachment or whatever name you like to give it. So many of us are attached to our smartphones, but we don’t recognize our addiction until we don’t have it. So, how do you deal with this digital addiction?

First, create boundaries. Designate a time to check in—whether it’s your phone or your email—and stick to it. To help maintain those boundaries, you can put your phone on silent when you need to focus on work or spend time with your family and friends. For both your phone and email, stop alert notifications. For most phones, notifications can be changed in the Settings option. You can do this in Outlook under File, Options, Mail, under the Message Arrival section.

Next, use the “out of sight, out of mind” trick. If you’re working on an important proposal, minimize or preferably close all other applications to limit distractions. Word on the Mac has a “Focus” view that blacks out everything on the screen except the document you’re actively working on. During family time or hanging out with friends, put your cell phone someplace where you won’t hear or see it.

Finally, give full detox a try. Go for a day or a weekend without your phone, tablet or computer. Go for a drive and just look out the window. Read a book or play a game with your kids. We promise the world won’t end! If you need something to get you motivated, celebrate National Day of Unplugging that starts at sundown on March 6th.   Technology is a wonderful tool; be sure to use it wisely and enjoy life.

First published in our March 2015 IT Radix Resource newsletter