Now what? Whether you’re unplugging for a day or a week, the best way to take advantage of your newfound unplugged time is to know what the goal of unplugging is in the first place. Is it to brainstorm new ideas, forcibly manage your time, relax and recharge, or reconnect with a hobby? Your goal defines how to use your unplugged time.
Here are three ways to take advantage of your status as digital hermit and achieve your goal of getting it done or getting away from it all.
If your goal is to brainstorm, set aside time to sit down with a pen and paper for at least ten minutes and write whatever comes into your head. It’s helpful if it is related to what you want to work on, but it’s not mandatory.
This is an exercise I used to do at a writing retreat (and an exercise I should do more often), and it helps to loosen your thinking muscles – think of it as a warm-up to your productivity workout. Often, in what you wrote you’ll find a nugget, a great idea you hadn’t thought of before, which makes working that much smoother and more productive.
It’s important that during this exercise, you do your best not to judge what you write as “stupid” or “pointless.” It doesn’t matter what you write, just that you write something and get your brain whirring in a non-digital medium.
Savor the silence
So you want to relax and recharge; it’s not always as easy as you hope it will be. To keep from feeling unmoored once you unplug, think of what you do on vacation. Do you read, take a walk, nap, meditate, or play a sport? Do that!
If you’ve been so busy that you’ve forgotten how you unwind, you definitely need this unplug time, so don’t give into the digital withdrawal you’ll likely experience. The free writing exercise can help you relax your mind, but if you don’t want silence, consider reaching out (via telephone, not email or text!) to friends or family for a social visit (sans digital device). This can help you ease in to your unplugged state by constructively and beneficially occupying your mind.
Do your best not to give in to the voice that tells you you have to do something. Being connected tricks us into thinking we can do something all the time; connecting to the world outside your screen is doing something.
Manage withdrawal – or the dread of reconnecting
You may experience withdrawal, but the plus side is that it probably won’t last for long; people who are forced to disconnect often find their unplugged lives to be much more vivid and refreshing. If you feel withdrawal, put your device well out of reach. Some heavy Internet users experience a significant drop in mood once they’re disconnected, so keeping yourself occupied with friends or activities can help lessen that. If you’re only disconnecting for an hour or two – or even for 24 – moving to an unconnected area won’t rely solely on your willpower.
Chances are, you’ll unplug and never wish to go back. Unless your career and lifestyle can support that, it probably won’t happen, but you can commit to using your devices less. Delete social media apps from your phone and only connect on a computer; turn off notifications and only check email at designated times; or install an app on your computer that forcibly blocks you from the Internet.
How do you take advantage of your unplugged time?