Why Should you Take a Digital Sabbatical?

digitalsabbaticalWhen did you last have a day without the Internet? Can you take a day offline, no email, no phone, no TV? Take the time for a digital sabbatical – give yourself a break.

Have you been feeling a little jaded, restless or bored with everything online? Has it all gotten to seem like more of the same, every day the same stuff, the same people, the same stuff to read about?

Or, have you become addicted to the Internet? Do you spend way too much time playing online games? Do you check email and then not get anything else done until you chance to notice how much time flew by? Do you get started with social networks and then feel drained before you have even started on the work or the research you actually planned on doing when you sat down in front of the computer?

If you have landed in a rut with everything online, everything Internet related, everything computer and online shopping and social chatting and web gaming and all the rest….

Take a digital sabbatical.

Take a sabbatical (a vacation) and give yourself fresh perspective. See the bigger picture and find your interest in everything online again by taking a big step back from it all. Being away from it will help you refresh your interest and enthusiasm. Being away will give you the chance to miss it all and want it back again, or not. You may find yourself having time for a lot of other things you’ve been putting off and liking that instead.

Even if you just take some time off, you will give yourself some perspective on how much Internet use is really a good thing. You will also have more to talk about (or write about) once you are back again.

How far can you stay offline? A week long stay-cation, a weekend, or just a few hours with the mobile phone and the Internet powered down?

If you can’t even last a few hours consider yourself addicted to the Internet. This could be a problem. Nothing is good when it’s not in some moderation.

Plan Your Digital Sabbatical

Decide just what your digital sabbatical will be.

Are you going to disconnect for the day or longer? Are you keeping your phone on or is that going to get a break too? What about television? Maybe your sabbatical will just be work or blog related but you will keep in touch with family and friends? Or you may use the time to find new ways to use the Internet – or take up a project which you haven’t had time for in the regular routine where you focus on checking email and other routines.

Plan the time for your sabbatical.

Will you need time off work? Make sure you don’t have appointments where you will need to have access to the Internet. If you have an ongoing project which requires on-call attention see if you can find someone else to be on-call for that day, or those hours. Or give notice that the service may be interrupted during the time you have planned for your digital sabbatical, leave a date and time you expect to return.

Let everyone know you are taking a digital sabbatical.

People may forget and still phone or email you, but at least you did what you could to let everyone know ahead of time. Many people will be amazed by the idea. We have gotten so used to having the Internet, people don’t consider what life was like without it. Leave a note on your site, Twitter account, Facebook page and so on. Give a time and date you plan to return.

Try to stick with it.

I know you will find it difficult not to have the Internet to look up this or that. I do. It can be frustrating not having the things we get so used to, right at our fingertips. But, do your best to stick with the time offline. Give yourself a break. Get away from all that glut of information. Get away from all the people who expect instant gratification from you, as if you really do live connected to your phone and computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Unplugging: Try a Digital Sabbatical

Phone Books are for Tourists

It is a sad thing that we seldom use our phone books any more. At least, not for their intended purpose. With the Internet as a quick source for local information (like business addresses and phone numbers) the phone book has become a large recyclable object. Sometimes an effective doorstop, child booster seat or an especially thick phone book can be added to the wood burning in the fireplace (if you have one).

It’s ironic that once the Internet was booming the phone books started dropping out of the sky. We were getting five different phone books each year at one point. The main one still being from the phone company itself. Then four others from various other sources, all companies who sold their service to local business and then promised great results. Well, who needs that many phone books in one place (one small house in my case). I did recycle all of them – without ever having used them at all.

This brings me to this past week when I was travelling to Sudbury, Ontario with my nephew and his Grandmother (my Mom). We were there for him to tour his university. Zack will be living on site and taking psychology this Fall. Anyway, I’ve been to Sudbury before. There were a couple of places I wanted to see again, like MIC (a Canadian themed restaurant). We stayed three days so I wanted to find more to do and see. Thus the phone book. I looked up all the standard things I look for (secondhand bookstores and coffee shops). Zack looked at the games stores and my Mom looked at garden centres. We each found a few places to explore. So the phone book was put to it’s intended use.

I think it is only in such a case that the phone book is still useful. Yes, we could have found the same information online and we each did have the hardware to do it. I just dislike pulling out the computer when I’m travelling. I like being less digitally inclined and having a small digital sabbatical.

Did you know that businesses can opt out of the Yellow Pages phone directory now? I wonder why they would do that. I can understand not placing a large ad but to at least have the small text ad, to at least be mentioned, still seems like a worthwhile idea. Not everyone is as plugged into the Internet that they rely on it fully and completely. If you have a business which helps people in times of crisis (like a personal trauma or the power going out), you really should have a yellow pages listing.

So goes the legendary phone book. When did you last use it in some way? Whether you found a creative use for it, actually looked up a business or just added it to the recycling – I hope you did not do it without a little thought for the old phone book.

Are We Becoming Social Hermits?

Our world is shrinking. The Internet was predicted to bring sweeping changes to the way we communicate, to bring the world together, connecting us all as a community over distances.

Maybe the changes aren’t working for everyone. Have you noticed there seem to be more cases of shut ins, people with agoraphobia and other social related issues which cause them to close down or hide themselves away?

The information age is bringing us too much information, too much social connectedness and too much time of being available versus giving ourselves some down time. It’s not just the Internet now. People seem to be attached to their mobile phones like chain smokers. Is it really just a way to communicate without ever being face to face, in the same room with someone?

Far more people claim to be introverts than extroverts. So why are we pushing social interaction so much? Why are we filling every available surface, every form of media with information, far more than any human being could ever absorb? What is the rush to share? What is so important that it needs to be shared, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

No wonder some people want to get away from it all. There is a lot of ‘all’ to get away from. It’s not even easy to remove yourself now. Go to a remote location and you will still find some form of social communication creeping in. There will be advertising, likely a phone, radio, maybe even a television, if not a laptop computer. When do you get away from all the noise? When do you have that down time?

I never get away completely. The best I can do is lock the doors on the house, stop answering the phone and don’t turn on the television or the radio, or the computer. I take a book to bed with me. A real, paper printed book. It’s very quiet and though it does have ads for other books – it saves them for the back of the book which I only see when I have finished reading the book. They don’t pop out at me, they don’t demand my attention in any way.

If you watch an old movie or a movie about people surviving after the end of civilization… doesn’t it seem kind of peaceful and simple? Communication tends to be the spoken word, or a printed page. I watched a movie about people surviving after alien plants took over. Some part of my mind was thinking how nice it would be… locked away in that big old house they found. They made it safe against alien plant invasion and there were so few people left in the world that there was no outside noise left. How cozy to be there, a huge fire for warmth and all that quiet, the information highway, the mobile phones, the television… all of it silenced.

After awhile I’d miss the Internet. Not the phone. I had a mobile phone for a week and returned it to the store. I just don’t want to be available to the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’m a social hermit by choice.

See my other posts related to taking or needing a break from it all:

Unplugging/ Digital Sabbatical as a Writing Technique

Has your writing lost it’s lustre? Have you stalled out somewhere in the middle or has your newest idea flat lined before you really started?

Or…

Have you been feeling kind of bored with the Internet? Are you missing the way you felt when you started online, discoveries and adventures just around every corner? If you stay offline do you miss it or do you crave it, unable to keep away for even one day?

You’ve landed in a rut. Bleh, as my niece would say. You may even be procrastinating, getting sucked into checking email and playing online games instead of accomplishing anything from your to-do list.

Take a digital sabbatical. Taking a break from it all is a great way to give yourself fresh perspective. By taking a few steps back you can see the bigger picture. It’s quite possible a digital sabbatical will change your life, or at least give you something new to talk about when you get back.

How far can you go? A weekend getaway, a stay-cation or just a few hours of leaving the computer and cell phone off?

The Unplugged Project (Twitter)
Lifehacker: Know When you Should Unplug from the Internet
Power Me: Unplug to Overcome Distraction
Owning Pink: Recharge your Mojo by Unplugging from the Internet
Gwen Bell: Digital Sabbatical
Rowdy Kittens: Everything you Need to Know about a Digital Sabbatical
Mediaite: No Internet for 24 Hours: My Unplug Challenge
Comfort Queen: How to Take a Digital Sabbatical
Weblog Better: A Simple Guide to Taking Digital Sabbaticals
One With Now: Taking a Digital Sabbatical – Why and How
Work Awesome: Enrich your Life – Go on a Digital Sabbatical
The 99 Percent: Lab Rat: What Happens When you Unplug from your Internet Addiction?