Last Sunday, I had my first official digital sabbatical. No email, no twitter, no Facebook, no iphone. I wasn’t feeling well so all I did was rest and write with no interruptions. I really understood what Gwen Bell meant when she said, “I call them hits. I want a quick hit, I just jump on Facebook.” Without a hit, the day went by more slowly and thoughtfully.
Set a specific time to disconnect each day. In the land of enough, there is less need to be plugged in. If you can, commit to not using a computer after dinner or before lunch time. Be mindful of how much time you spend online and are virtually available. Protect your time and your mind. That was the recommendation for a short hiatus in the Land of Enough. For a longer stay, like a lifetime, you will need to consider how you really want to spend your time and what you are missing when you are sucked up in e-mail and other electronic distractions.
Ask questions like:
- Why am I turning my computer on?
- How effective can I be running three programs at once?
- Why do I read an email while I am talking on the phone?
- When was the last time I went outside?
If you really want to live with less, then you need to think of “things” in terms of more than just stuff. The Internet is a thing. Twitter is a thing, email is a thing. This might sound silly but any “thing” that takes up your time and attention needs to count when you are considering being more with less.
How to Disconnect
Everyday– If you currently work with a computer, chances are you try and do more than one thing at a time. Maybe you always have your email open, or Tweetdeck chirping away in the background. It doesn’t matter what your work is, you are less effective when you segment your attention. To better access where your time goes in a day, log your time for three days. Track what you do, on paper, including when you check your email, post a tweet, like something on Facebook, break for lunch, check voicemail, channel surf or whatever. Be honest so you can see where your time goes. Next, structure your day so you are only doing things that reflect your goals. If that includes social media or email set aside time to do it, but once your time is up, shut it down.
Digital sabbaticals – After my first 24 hour digital sabbatical, I can see that I need to build them in every week. If you haven’t done it yet, give it a try. You will be amazed at how your day changes. Tammy Strobel breaks each weekend and Gwen Bell took a month long sabattical. Don’t worry about what you will miss online. Instead, embrace what you’ve been missing while you were plugged in.
Kill a social media outlet– So you tweet, Facebook, text, instant message, link in, Skype and google chat. When is it going to stop? What if you put all of your energy into one or two methods of connecting instead of four or more? I canceled my Linkedin account and made the decision not to have a Be More with Less Facebook page or dedicated e-newsletter and email list. What would I be saying about living with less, if I was spreading the word through more channels. Not only would it be a total contradiction, but it would be a watered down effort. Figure out what you enjoy socially, and what makes the most impact for your business and stick with that. Also, don’t be afraid to limit how many people you follow or friend. There’s no magic number, but I find less than 100 to be more manageable and meaningful.
Cancel Your Cable – TV watching should be included in the things you cut for your digital sabbatical. Start with a TV free day and consider cancelling your cable all together. You will save money and time, and discover amazing new ways to unwind and relax.
Lights out night – When I used to live in New Hampshire, we had at least three or four storms each year that would knock out the power for a few hours, or days. While inconvenient, it was also pretty fun to dig out candles and plan an evening without the modern conveniences that come with electricity. It’s been a long time since I’ve been without power, but I am considering a lights out night. Could you go 24 hours without electricity? It might be challenging, but it could be fun or even romantic!
Turn it off, shut it down, disconnect or whatever you want to call it, but give your body and mind a break from the buzz. Not only will the tiny distractions take over your day, but that constant source of stimulation will make you forget the rush you get riding your bike down a hill or building a snowman with your kids. (yep…the snow’s coming!) Build in a fun, outdoor adventure during your first digital sabbatical so you aren’t tempted to tune in for a quick hit.
What do you enjoy most when you are disconnected?