In 2012, I started taking at least one week every year as an “unplugged” vacation.
For me, this means that, while I have my cell phone for emergencies and contact with the caregivers of my special needs son, I don’t use my phone for anything else—no Facebook or other social media, no email, no idle time-waster games, nothing.
I started doing this because I wanted to detox my brain from the seemingly endless, though TOTALLY addictive, stream of data that was coming at me all hours of the day...and that was in 2012!
Recently, I found some data that I found super-disturbing while not AT ALL super surprising:
- 84% of cell phone users claim they could not go a single day without their device.
- 67% of cell phone owners check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.
- Studies indicate some mobile device owners check their devices every 6.5 minutes.
- 88% of U.S. consumers use mobile devices as a second screen even while watching television.
- Some researchers have begun labeling “cell phone checking” as the new yawn because of its contagious nature.
Accelerate Your Success:
The Unplugged Week
I also found some really positive information about some important reasons to unplug in general, including the findings that powering-down helps removes unhealthy feelings of jealousy, envy, and loneliness, combats the fear of missing out, and promotes creation overconsumption.
Of course, I’m not here to convince you to unplug. You’ve probably already been convinced to do it, or at the very least intrigued to try it. But let’s face it, the idea of chucking your phone out the window, or locking it in a guarded safe for a week, is a little more extreme behavior than most of us are willing to consider.
I’m interested in helping you ACTUALLY DO IT in a way that's sustainable and unobtrusive to your day-to-day actions as possible.
5 Steps to Planning Your Unplugged Week:
1.) Plan it WELL in advance.
An unplugged week doesn’t happen by accident, and it can’t happen next week without dire consequences. Take your time. Block out your week in your calendar, arrange your schedule in advance to minimize required work connections, and inform your team of your intentions.
2.) Make a list of analog things you’d like to have time for.
We’ve all got interests that have fallen by the wayside thanks to our connections to technology. Chess, cribbage, books, sketching, yoga, deep conversations. These all contribute to a relaxed mental state, which is the main goal of most vacations.
3.) Declutter your phone/computer/tablet ahead of time.
It takes a lot of time to unsubscribe from emails you don’t care about, unfollow accounts that annoy you, and tailor your notification settings. The quickest way to have the same effect? Deleting the entire app. You know your problem apps; uninstall them, even if it’s only during your trip or for a few days at a time. Turning your phone back into a phone is pretty liberating.
4.) Turn off all notifications. I’ve spoken about this before.
Yes, all of them. Just turn them off. When the phone doesn’t buzz or beep, you’ll be less likely to want to grab it and “just see” what’s going on in the world.
5.) Set specific check-in times with your team.
Your team WANTS you to have some time away, but they also may NEED you for some important decisions. Don’t leave this up to chance. Schedule specific check-in times with your team to ensure that a.) they don’t get too anxious without you, and b.) you don’t feel too out-of-touch while you’re away.
That’s it. Simple, but not easy.
There are plenty of other approaches that are far more stringent than this one. Still, I’ve found that pre-planning and properly set expectations, coupled with a reasonable balance of time and strong, consistent controls is the secret to getting away effectively with the least amount of stress.
I hope you have a great weekend,