It’s been an interesting time to observe the way work habits have changed due to the safety measures put in place in response to COVID-19. On social media, working from home (#WFH) has become a popular hashtag, linking together Instagram stories, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos detailing the ins and outs of people’s newfound morning routines. It proves that the often mundane, daily rituals many of us perform can be made into popular content when online platforms provide #inspo for adjusting to new situations. It’s a connection to what feels like a community.
While confined to spaces in which proximity to technology is unavoidable in quarantine, how much easier can it get to be distracted and overwhelmed by screens, whether you work from home or not? Some not-so-shocking discoveries about technology use causing serious health issues have been made recently, specifically those due to radiofrequency and microwave radiation emitted by cellphones. The findings say that acoustic-neuroma-type brain tumors become an occupational risk the more that electromagnetic radiation becomes just another part of the job.
So, when our phones and laptops become necessary tools for completing work and the health risks associated with them run higher in isolation, is a ‘digital detox’ really accomplishable? Evidently, avoiding the issues that come with increased technology use has a lot to do with the functionality and appearance of a living space, as Michele Delory, Certified KonMari Consultant and owner of Modern and Minimalist, theorizes.
The Japanese Way
KonMari, as defined by Delory, is a technique that declutters and organizes the home by helping people distinguish between which of their possessions “spark feelings of joy” and which do not. It was March when Delory was taking a break from her consultations and traveling Asia with her family when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
“When we came home it felt like we were losing a sense of freedom like everyone else in the world, and it felt strange. We did our 14-day quarantine at home and got over the jet lag, and then day after day it started to feel much harder,” explains Delory. “Our screens were being used more than ever and I got obsessed with watching the news. Eventually it became too much for me and I needed to spend less time on social media and screens.”
Before Toronto’s lockdown was enforced by the Canadian government, Delory worked one-on-one with clients in their homes, offered KonMari workshops, and connected more with her collaborators in person than she ever did through a screen. Now, she works from home doing virtual KonMari sessions through Zoom, attempting to view the extra time she has in her own space as a positive experience.
“By taking advantage of this time, you’ll gain more of it once life gets back to normal with a house that’s in order,” Delory says. “For those that are working from home and maybe doing home schooling with kids, the KonMari Method will allow you to love the space you live in and tidying will become much faster.”
Through the lens of the KonMari philosophy, a cluttered and messy home can result in delayed decision making and be a reflection of the current situation on a person’s mental health. The more time that’s spent at home in a space that’s overwhelming leads to procrastination and avoidance — if no one else is going to see inside, why not leave things as they are and cue up another flick?
“Taking the time to avoid devices is important, now more than ever,” warns Delory. “We tend to neglect what we need to do in our homes… and also who we live with and care about, too.”
If you’ve been avoiding eye contact with the weekly screen time report your smartphone generates or disabled it from notifying you of your social media use, perhaps it’s time to take social distancing to a different level and detach from your technology. Here, Delory gives her best tips for making a cleanse from all things digital.
While staying at home is still encouraged in most places affected by COVID-19, Delory recommends taking time to think about what types of technology currently serve you: “If that means storing devices away so that they’re only used when needed, then do that.”
Ever heard that putting a TV in your bedroom is the worst thing you can do for your sleep cycle? Well, Delory thinks so too. “Having a TV mounted on a wall in your bedroom does make you want to curl up in bed and watch something before sleeping, which can make it harder to shut ourselves off to go to bed. A mounted TV on the wall is space-saving and can be convenient, but with devices and laptops, you can live without big screen TVs.”
The same goes for your phone. “Having our phones next to us in bed makes it harder to unplug. Leave your smartphone in another room while you sleep to avoid screen time before bed and when waking up,” Delory suggests.
When it comes to storing technology away, Delory takes inspiration from traditional Japanese homes for their functionality, convenience, and environmentally conscious design. “Small space living in Japan is normal and allows you to live minimally. Spaces are smaller but made smarter,” explains Delory. “Entryways have a space for removing shoes and a closet for storing them. A traditional tatami mat on the bedroom floor can fit into a closet big enough to store all bedding after use. Keep these things in mind when reconfiguring your space.”
If you’re still having trouble focusing your attention on something other than screens, Delory proposes letting some go. “Make use of a laptop, which is a huge space saver. Video games are another form of entertainment and distraction, and they usually require a TV for play. Have one TV in a single area of the home for this purpose instead of creating multiple places to game.”