Reflections on Unplugging

Last week I posted on why I was participating in the National Day of Unplugging, which took place this past weekend. I unplugged and wanted to share some of my thoughts about the experience.

As I previously mentioned, I wanted to use the NDU as a personal motivator to step back from social media, email, web browsing, etc. for 24 hours. That is what the chance to unplug meant for me. If you participated this past weekend or regularly unplug then unplugging may mean something different for you. I didn’t try to over think what unplugging meant because that would be more distraction and would probably cause me to abandon the whole thing. I didn’t try to become an overnight Luddite. Sure, I used my phone to find out hours of an event, but I don’t think that there was anything wrong with that (and the alternative would have been Googling the answer, and who knows where that would have lead me).

Now

My thoughts on unplugging.

When I plugged back in, I saw that I didn’t miss much (except for several new Twitter followers – thank you!). When I went to my newsfeed on Facebook I was reminded by how many useless posts I see on a daily basis, especially all the e-cards and random quotes that people “liked”. Far from exciting. However, while I was unplugged, I managed to watch a movie with my son, read, and go to the auto show with my family, all without the distraction of being plugged in. For me, that was a really good feeling, one that could lead to a better life if I practiced it more often.

I am not sure where this experience will lead me and whether or not I will pick certain days to unplug, or whether I will just make a conscious effort to look at my phone less – especially while with others or while working on something that requires focus. That question really boils down to whether it is better to go all or nothing or to develop a better habit. Ultimately, developing the better habit would be preferable, but it may require more completely unplugged days to get there.

The one thing I would do differently.

Unless you are going to lock your phone away while you are unplugged, make sure that you turn off notifications. This is the one mistake that I made. I kept hearing the notifications for email and other services, which made me want to check my phone. Also, when I did grab my phone to make a phone call I saw some of the notifications on the home screen, but did not open any of them. While I was proud of the fact that I did not give in to opening any of the apps with notifications, I still almost felt like I cheated. Accordingly, next time, I will turn off notifications.

What about you? Did you unplug? If so, what did you learn? If not, do have any future plans to do so?

[Creative Commons Image via Hartwig HKD via Flickr]


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