It’s the start of a new year and we often reflect on our physical habits. We make resolutions to eat more greens, going to the gym, or getting up earlier. But what about our digital habits ?
What are digital habits?
The past year pushed us to be more digitally available, leading us to create more digital habits than ever before. More and more we are depending on our phone for many different activities; as a shopping device, as a fitness aid, as a mindfulness device, as a social media device and so much more… But next to the many positive benefits smartphones offer, excessive smartphone usage can cause bad effects in relation to attention, sleep quality, mental health and even social relationships. However, digital habits are just that; habits. Habits are just small decisions you make and actions you perform regularly. These decisions are made with external cues that happen around you, after which you perform the action subconsciously and with ease.
Smartphones and digital habits
Let’s break down your smartphone use in the lens of habits. Cue: You receive a notification on your phone. Craving: You want to know who is thinking of you and messaging you. Response: You pick up your phone, open the app and see who’s messaging you. Reward : You satisfy your craving and get to talk to the person or read what the person is texting you.
Do the above steps enough times (we receive upwards of 40+ notification each day) and you will unconsciously start picking up your phone, as that is where the reward lies. Not giving into any notification can have its downsides as well. Your smartphone is not only meant to be your social media buddy. It’s your shopping partner, it’s your fitness coach and it’s many other things as well. The rewards vary and you get all of them in a single source! This makes it a hard habit to quit by yourself. Even if you break one reward, you’ll often lean towards the other. If you leave Facebook, you might spend more time on Instagram. If you leave Instagram, you could be spending your time on YouTube. The loop doesn’t stop for a lot of people, because these platforms are designed to keep you on them. Your attention is their money maker. Oof! That’s a lot to take in at once. Might even seem a bit gloomy. But there’s a bright side to this story. Remember that, in the end, it’s all about habits. They are small decisions that you make everyday. The easier it is to make these decisions, the better your habits can be. This is where I think Unpluq can help: in making these small decisions and consequently breaking the bad habit patterns.
Unpluq and digital habits
When using Unpluq, there are two key things that Unpluq does which helps in breaking the habit loop of excessive smartphone usage. Let’s look at the Habit loop again and how Unpluq helps.
Less Notifications. Less Cues.
You receive a notification (Cue) from one of the apps you’ve set in Focus mode. The Unpluq launcher prevents this (notification) cue from reaching you as soon it comes. If there is no cue, the habit loop doesn’t even start.
Difficult to Access, Less Response.
Fair enough, the above part prevents us from picking up our phone due to notifications. But we still pick up our phone (on average even a 100+ times per day), looking for the reward that we get from using different apps. What happens there? This is where the Unpluq key comes into play. You can only access the distracting apps you’ve set with the Unpluq key.There are less apps to distract you. It creates friction in your daily habits, where you need to plug in the Unpluq key in order to access the distracting apps.
In both of these cases, the habit loop is being disrupted and the rewards are, well, not being rewarded. This is how Unpluq taps into your digital habits and helps you make it easier to break them, replace them and be conscious of them. You can even try to see what your own digital habits are and let us know by reflecting on them using this simple template: Habit loop template