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The Digital Detox: A Spin on Waste Management

Credit: Florian Schmetz via Unsplashed

Work piling up but you cannot resist the sweet allure of your warm, glowing screens? Writer Chaarvi walks you through how you can better manage your screen time, logically, strategically and practically.

Waste management is defined as the art of minimising rubbish generated, or maximising utility from junk. It could be something as simple as tossing a Pasta Express takeout container in a rubbish bin at the Connexion canteen or transforming your old, unused white shirt into a glamorous tie-dye crop-top.

Today, the elimination of waste takes on a digital meaning and extends to other resources, such as time, effort and attention students spend on digital platforms. A digital detox, therefore, could be used to enhance a student’s productivity.

Too much digital exposure can leave us exhausted, frustrated, and insecure at times, making the need for an electronic break extremely essential.

Credits: WIRED

Now you might ponder over your frightening screen time statistics, fear for your sanity, and proceed to slam your laptop shut. Let me stop you right there. I can’t guarantee a Rolling Meadows Retreat, but identifying exactly what you might be wasting is a big step forward. So relax those tense shoulders, and put on your thinking caps as we jump right into the ultimate guide to ride a waste tide!


1. Wasting time: Tick, tock on the clock; will the party ever stop?

Credits: Life and other Stories

It is no secret that time flies. When you are a university student, it flies like Maleficent cutting through the sky with her wings.This is one weapon in your arsenal that can really help you slash down on sinking grades, if wielded properly.

We might waste time on a number of things in a day, but indulging in all things digital takes the prize. Be it a Netflix night, Amazon Prime pastime, Tiktok or Instagram, some of us promise ourselves a little break from studies, and then go spiralling down the staircase of stimulations.

Procrastination is something we are all guilty of, because it is the easiest way out. This may be another reason why most people let time slip out of their hands. Here are a few ways in which you can clamp down on procrastination, once you have identified this red flag -

(a) Take the “App”tastic Avenue!

Fight fire with fire. Make use of an application that tracks the amount of time you spend on social media on a daily basis. Some examples include Moment, where you can set time limits, reminders and enable shut-offs automatically. Others like Flipd ensure that you are always in beast-mode, by locking you out of the apps altogether.

Flipd ensures you remain focussed by limiting time spent on apps. Source: The Globe and Mail
(b) Move out like a maestro

By this, I do not mean clubbing every second day or recovering from a hangover on the day of your final exam. Every time distraction comes calling like the devil, know that your guardian angel could be a session at the gym, a stroll around Campus Green, or even a walk with your furry friend! Engaging in some sort of physical activity will always remind your body of the rejuvenating effects a pause in your computerised customs can bring.

(c) Goal, Goal, It’s a Goal!

Learning to prioritise your daily tasks will not only get the work done, but also help you indulge in the streaming saga guilt-free. There are many ways in which this can be done: My personal favourite being the Pomodoro Technique, a 25-minute study interval accompanied by a short 7 minute break.

The goal pyramid is another effective method to bend it like Beckham, ranking your aims, from top to bottom, according to the level of urgency. Every time you advance a step in the pyramid, reward yourself with a mixture of both, digital and physical treats.

An example of a goal pyramid Credits: Focus Cycles

2. Draining energy: Eye’m not loving it!

Credits: Tumblr

Another important factor in students’ success is their health. Many times, we pull all-nighters walking like zombies - red, tired and itchy eyes, an aching and stiff back, and a foggy brain. All the coffee at Koufu will not help us as much as skipping the stress, binge watching, in weeks leading to the exam.

The reason for not being able to prioritise health over short-term pleasure, for most students, is the lack of vision needed for long-term goals. So the next time you hear that K-drama calling out to you, envisage the amount of energy that might be wasted and drained from your senses. Here are two ways you can be practical about your screen time, and keep from turning blind in the future -

(a) The Weightage of Water

Water, as we’ve been told, is essential for man to survive. Turns out it is also essential for students to thrive. Splashing cold water on the eyes regularly will keep them rejuvenated and refreshed, thus also giving new life to your essay every time you visit the washroom.

Staying hydrated is also a key factor to replenishing your skin - acne haters take note. Now, the next break that comes a calling, stray away from your phones and make a beeline for the coolers.

(b) Sleeping Beauty’s Beauty Sleep

Most of us would have anticipated this by now, given the number of errors that a sleep deprived mind is capable of, and its consequences such as low grades. So sleep early to recharge your mind and body, not just for that A that you have been trying to chase all semester.

Aim for a minimum of 7 hours, and create a timetable that gives you uninterrupted time to snore away. For the best quality of sleep, put your digital devices away at least one hour before you turn in. A word of caution though, be sure to turn on the morning alarm because unlike Sleeping Beauty, no prince will come to get you to class.

Credits: Tenor

3. Wasted opportunity cost: Putting another feather in the cap!

SMU is a challenging, exhausting but exciting place to be. Every juncture and literally every mail brings in new opportunities. The next time you want some time off, recognize the activities that you love doing.

If you are an extrovert who loves engaging in outdoor events, go for a skate, participate in a trek run, or surf your heart out. If you’re an introvert who adores their space, try out a new book genre in the library, attend workshops aligning with your interests, or try practising a brand new language.

If you can balance your screen time with something that adds value to your existing set of skills, you will be healthier and happier, both psychologically and physically.

Credits: Giphy

With the finals around the corner, these pointers will go a long way in bagging that GPA, and, at the same time, enable you to stay mentally calm and physically fit. Remember: if you stress not, waste not, want not, your performance will never fall short!

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