I love the internet. I wouldn’t have this blog without the internet. We wouldn’t be connecting on Facebook, Instagram or through email without the internet. I do work I love thanks to the internet. I’ve met some of my closest friends because of the internet.
And … I need the internet to go away sometimes. The internet may be open 24/7 but I’m not. I can’t be. You can’t be either. It’s too much. I need to intentionally shift my time and attention away from my phone and computer to show up for my life. I try to take regular digital breaks, but I haven’t been as consistent as I’d like lately.
Recently, I realized that if I only break for one day a week, I’ll have 52 full days a year without the internet. That made me smile.
Unplug: 52 days a year without the Internet
If we only unplug for one day a week, that’s 52 days a year. 52 days a year to trade what’s online for what’s right in front of us.
On a recent 24-hour digital break, I traded …
- wifi for fresh air
- iPhone for camera (pictures here)
- news for laughter
- Google for wonder
- text messaging for hand holding
- email for skipping rocks
Thinking about unplugging for 24 hours a week wasn’t enough motivation for me to be consistent with my digital breaks. 52 days (almost two months) a year is.
How to unplug from the internet
Schedule your unplugging. Pick a 24-hour time frame each week when you can unplug. For me Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening works well most of the time.
Be prepared. Tell friends and family when you’ll be unplugged. If you regularly take notes on your phone, keep a small notebook nearby. If your phone is your alarm clock, consider using a regular alarm clock. If you like to take pictures, use a regular camera if you have one instead of your phone.
Pay attention to your excuses. If you are thinking “easier said than done” or “I could never,” don’t stop there. Challenge those statements. 24 hours may sound like a long time away from the internet but you won’t know unless you give it a try. Pay attention to how the 24 hour break feels. You may miss the internet at first or during certain times of the day when you feel bored. Notice that. Notice the good parts too. Did you have more attention for the people around you? Did you have more creative ideas? Whatever it is, notice and then make a decision that works best for you moving forward.
Plan shorter breaks. If 24 hours away from the internet sounds impossible, start with a commitment to shorter digital breaks. Commit to no internet before a certain time each morning or after a time you set each evening.
Break the rules. If the only reason you can’t commit to 24 hours is because you are expecting an important email or other digital message, schedule a time during your digital break to break the rules. Do you what you need to do and get back to your break. In other words, don’t dismiss the whole idea because you have to check your email for five minutes. You can also shift your weekly time if necessary.
Track your 52 days. Keep track in your calendar or in some other non-digital space. It’s likely that your Internet-free time will encourage more Internet-free time.
Invite friends. Ask people you love if they want to join you. If they say yes, great. If they say no, do it on your own.
Use regular digital sabbaticals to renew and restore.
Last weekend, I took a break from the internet from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening. I went hiking, saw a movie, went out for Mexican food, meditated and took a nice long bath. It was a slow day. One I’ll remember for a long time. I hope to have at least 52 more of these unplugged days in the next year.