How To Digital Detox And Meet Yourself? | How To Reduce Screen Time In Digital Detox?

How To Digital Detox And Meet Yourself? | How To Reduce Screen Time In Digital Detox?

Interview with Natalie Sennes

The CEO and co- founder of Moving Mountains is also a project manager and an Agile coach.

Portrait Visual How to Digital Detox by Natalie Sennes

Not only in times of the coronavirus crisis, but in general being online and connected 24/7 is a typical vice of our digital society. In fact, 80% of men admit to use their phone on the toilet compared to 69% of women who are “toilet texters.” We feel the urge to be available for anyone, anywhere, at any time and in the event we missed out on a call, we might even feel apologetic for not being there. This doesn’t only apply to our private life, but also to business environments many times – which in turn increases the pressure on ourselves. We asked Natalie Sennes, CEO and Co-founder of MovingMountains, for her advice on how we can cope with the pressure, her essential tips on how to reduce screen time, and how she personally manages to detach. Being a founder, a strong business woman and a mindfulness coach at the same time, she also experienced all the challenges you might face in your daily life and certainly knows some best practices on how to solve them.

The mobile phone – a curse or a blessing?

It is a curse and a blessing for me because most of the time it is a drug and I have to be honest. It depends on how I use it and what context it is in. Checking my social media profiles and emails is the first thing I do on the weekends. This is where I get my updates and inspiration from, do my online yoga session, and stay in touch with people that I don’t get to see often. I want to make sure that I can spend time without it, and if it really serves my needs right now. It is a blessing if I can answer both of the questions with a yes.

How do you actually define “digital detox”?

It is defined as getting clean from our attachment to digital communication or relaxing from the traffic on the internet. It means becoming more conscious with the present moment, connecting back with reality and our inner passion.

If we consume too much, we become passive and unhappy, and life wants to be lived fully and actively. Digital detoxing can help us to experience our own self-efficacy and productivity more, and relate to what is really important to us.

Quote Visual How to Digital Detox by Natalie Sennes

Why is digital detox important for us in the digital age?

Communication and information can obscure reality in today’s digital world. This leads us to trust the things we consume on our phones more than ourselves. Getting back in touch with reality and what is really happening is a part of digital detoxing.

Digital communication can cause stress and overwhelm us at a subconscious level. In order to be able to solve complex problems and be creative, we need to de-stress and regain our senses. Imagine what will happen when we let our thoughts flow instead of being guided all the time by online consumption.

Do you believe in the effect of “digital detox tours”?

It is an individual decision if it helps you with detaching from the digital world. Some people can benefit from the support of peers and the social pressure of these digital tours. You can find what suits you.

Sometimes it is necessary to stop or change in order to create more consciousness. You have the chance to be in completely different surroundings on a digital detoxing tour. For example, I did a ten-day silent retreat with no access to any digital device and this radical stop helped me to better regulate my digital consumption in daily life. You will be confronted with yourself more directly. It might be easier to transfer this experience back into your daily routine if it creates lasting memories.

Why is it so hard for people to go offline?

Being online is an easy way to get what you want instantly, as we want to be or just feel connected to others. We are afraid to be left out because we rely on relationships and contact with others. The coronaviruses crisis shows that being offline can feel life threatening. Being in touch online can only be a partial replacement for real personal contact.

Do you have tips for people who try to reduce their screen time every day?

I would suggest sticking to a routine. I developed a routine to reduce my screen time over time.

  1. Start the day without your phone and just be with yourself for the first 30 minutes of the day.
  2. End your day without a mobile phone.
  3. When going to lunch or dinner, leave your phone in the office or home.
  4. You can either turn off the phone completely or put it in flight mode once in a while.
  5. Where the network is bad is where you should travel.

Tips Visual How to Digital Detox by Natalie Sennes
What we need to know: First, change only happens in small steps, we are “Gewohnheitstiere”/creatures of habit and need daily practice and routine. Second, being constantly online is a strategy to avoid dealing with our real needs, such as taking a break, spending time with good friends and loved ones. Give yourself room to explore what you are really looking for in life. Third, we need new options to change our behavior. This is why we have started MovingMountains: To help people explore new techniques and help them find out what they really want. We run seminars that combine hiking in nature with personnel development and self-leadership. Most of our participants turn off their phones completely during that time and experience it as being extremely liberating to be offline for several days and to free their mind for new experiences and new ideas.

What is the most surprising effect for people going on an Exploration tour with you?

It’s surprising for teams and people to discover how fast and deep they dive into the processes and how transformational this journey is on a developmental hike into nature. In most team settings, stepping outside the office and taking a walk with your colleagues in a natural environment is not normal. Similar to meditation, hiking together connects the group and connects everyone with themselves. It allows you to slow down, to feel your body, and to connect with yourself. People are more open, more honest, more relaxed and ready to hear different perspectives. This is a great way to explore the topics that are most pressing in your life. In this way, hiking in nature enhances team processes and at the same time anchors them in a better way than indoor seminars do.

Are mobile phones allowed during the sessions?

Most of the time we are in regions with bad connection anyways, so we recommend turning them off. That definitely helps! Making it forbidden would be against the principles of self-responsible human beings. Everyone knows why they go on a hiking and coaching tour. Even before we mention it, the participants know the purpose and sense of taking your digital devices off of you.

What do you think about the apps on the market that are supposed to help people disconnect from their smartphones? Do they actually work?

Not really. Do New Years Resolutions actually work? – No they don’t. We need to be willing from within to really open up for change. And then there are far better solutions out there that can help you with that than these apps such as: coaching techniques like “Immunity to change”from Kegan and Lahey, stretches, The 5 Questions from John Scherer, or practical things like switching your phone to black-and-white mode (grayscale), which decreases our level of addiction and relaxes our eyes. Another technique would be turning your phone in flight mode during the night or simply not taking it to your bedroom.

One typical recommendation we often hear or read about is that we should simply stay away from email for a few hours or dedicate  certain email time, even during working hours. Isn’t this unrealistic in a digital world?

You can limit yourself to certain times or reserve certain times for digital use. Why should this not be possible? It is not right to be constantly available. It is dependent on the specific situation. There are some professions that require more accessibility. In principle, it is not unrealistic. Being offline once in a while can increase your productivity.

Since I am in live-meetings and workshops frequently, I am offline quite often and that is just natural for me. I just inform people when I will be available and when I won’t, it works well. I know many entrepreneurs who do that as well.

My tip is to become aware of what you want to focus your attention on instead of wasting your time on mail or chat programs.

What is your opinion on work-life balance vs. there is no such thing?

There is no such thing as that for me, but it is about balance in general. I do my work with passion because it gives me energy and it decreases my need for compensation.

How do you actually take a break from things?

If days get really busy and I don’t have time for yoga, meditation, or hiking, the least I can do is cook or go for a walk. It is very relaxing.

What, in your view, makes an entrepreneur?

Anentrepreneur is someone who is able to take advantage of opportunities despite obstacles. Someone who is willing to take up challenges and find effective solutions can be that person.

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