Unplugging All Year Round

This Friday night marks the beginning of the second annual National Day of Unplugging, but you needn't wait for the annual event to disconnect from your devices.  Here are some ways to unplug on the regular: every month, every week, or even several times a day.  (For more on the why of unplugging, see my piece on the subject from last year.) Several times a day: Many of us engage with technology during the mindless, routine activities of daily life.  For a break from this, define contexts in which you will consciously disconnect from your devices.  For example, commit to not being on your phone when you are walking to the subway or driving in your car. Or to not texting while eating.  Instead, notice your surroundings, the road in front of you, or the taste of what you are eating in a more mindful way.

Daily: There are several ways to do this.  Start your day unplugged by giving yourself a buffer of 20, 30, or 60 minutes before checking in with technology -- greeting the day before you greet your iPhone.  During the day, block out a no-technology hour or two -- perhaps the first couple of hours after you get home from work, to mark that transition into home-mode.  Or, give yourself a daily technology cut-off time, and put yourself to bed with a book rather than Twitter.

Weekly: Try a regular technology break on the weekends.  Try a six hour chunk without internet on a Saturday and see how clean your house gets, and how far your mind can wander away from your work.  The National Day of Unplugging is rooted in the Jewish tradition of Shabbat, which is another way frame a weekly unplugging -- 24 hours worth of disconnection from technology and reconnection with home, family, self and spririt.

Monthly: Can you go one day, or one weekend a month without technology?  I do this on occasion and think of it as a kind of technology cleanse.

Yearly, but in a big way: Give yourself a proper vacation from your devices if you can manage it.  A few days or a week away from technology, as this group of five neuroscientists and a reporter found when they turned off their phones and went into the Grand Canyon, will actually change your experience of the world around you.

How often do you consciously unplug?  Share your experiences in the comments.

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