Enrich Your Life – Go on a Digital Sabbatical


Once a week, I disconnect my modem and “disappear” from the Internet. I don’t check my e-mails, I don’t tweet or share anything on Facebook, I don’t surf. And unless I’m expecting any urgent messages, I even turn off my mobile phone. My decision to go on a weekend digital sabbatical is my way of balancing my tight schedule and quieting my monkey mind.

Social web strategist Gwen Bell is perhaps one of the most popular proponents of the digital sabbatical. For the whole month of July, Gwen decided to get unplugged and vowed that for the whole month that she won’t check e-mails, tweet, read blogs or do any digital work.

She instead used that time to know more about herself and go deeply into her personal relationships.

I always wanted to do something like that as I’m now preparing to write a book on travelling solo as a woman. That, however, is not possible at the moment given that my work as an online content marketing strategist involve blogging and hanging out on social networking sites.

So I had to settle for a mini-digital sabbatical.  And I believe that you too, busy career professionals who want to reclaim your time, will benefit from going on a mini-sabbatical.

Go on a Sabbatical in 5 Steps

That said, preparing for a mini digital sabbatical still entail some preparation – it’s after all difficult to go unplugged even for a day as we’ve all been used to being connected all the time.  Here are  5 easy steps that you may want to do before you turn off that router.

1. Determine why you are going on a mini sabbatical

If you don’t know why you’re doing something, then you won’t likely pursue it.  Write down the reasons why you want to go unplug on weekends. If you think these reasons are worth it then that will encourage you to keep on track.

2. Set the date

Put it down in your calendar and schedule when you plan to do this sabbatical. I usually go on sabbatical on weekends as I seldom work on those days – hence, I have no excuse to check my e-mail and it becomes easier. Also determine how long do you plan to stay unplugged – one day, four hours, the whole weekend? You need to know when it will start and end to keep you focused.

3. List down the activities

What do you want to do once you stay out from the Internet? The sabbatical is the perfect time to work on a personal project which you always wanted to do but never had the time. Or you can use this to relax, or talk – in person – with your family and friends. One thing I look forward to in my mini sabbaticals is that I can use it to read books, watch dvds and just have coffee with my friends – the conversations alone beat mindless chatting in social media sites.

4. Make yourself accountable

Resist the urge to just check on your e-mails by finding a way to manage temptation. Turn off the router or put your laptop under lock and key. I take away my modem’s charger (I put it in a kitchen drawer) so that I won’t be tempted. You also need to enlist the help of your family and friends – tell them when and why you’re doing this sabbatical so that they can help you to be on track.

5. Take it one step at a time

If you think you’re not prepared to go on a mini sabbatical but is still keen on going unplugged then consider reducing your Internet usage hours. For instance, if you’re used to spending ten hours online, then you can perhaps cut it down by two to three hours on weekends.  Just continue doing this for the next few weeks, cutting down the hours further and you will be surprised that just out of habit, you have learned to live one day without getting in the Internet!

The key to time management treating time as a finite resource. We need to use time based on how it will help us achieve our goals and bring happiness to our life. Once you try going on this kind of sabbatical you will be surprised on how much time you’ll be able to save and develop a deeper relationship with your friends and family.

How do you take a sabbatical from your work? Share your stories in the comments.

 


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Prime Sarmiento writes on business and career tools for Ahead Interactive (AI). AI offers online tutorial and test preparation programs for students in primary to tertiary levels. As a freelance business blogger, Prime helps globally-focused entrepreneurs communicate with their clients. Get in touch with her via her website.

Discussion

  1. Rasmus on the 8th August

    WOW! What a cool idea!

    I will surely try this :)

  2. Nate on the 9th August

    Jeez… I need to do this so bad but I literally don’t think I could. Great tips though- maybe in a year.

  3. Brad Merrill on the 14th August

    Did this just today in fact after a fashion.

    5:30-9:30 am 3.5 hour 22.1 mile marathon training run
    9:30-10:45 am breakfast, shower change
    10:45 until after 2:00 pm – travel to theater to see movie “The Help” a 2 hr 36 minute movie with my wife. (11:30 start time)

    It was probably around 2:30-3:00 pm before I lifted the lid on my laptop.

    • Pooja Lohana on the 14th August

      Good for you, Brad! Interesting to hear.

      Pooja
      Editor

  4. Prime on the 17th August

    Good for you Brad!

  5. Fajr Breeze on the 9th September

    As I am having my first year in college, I will definitely try this “Digital Sabbatical” thing!! :) I think it’ll be cool

  6. Deb Taylor on the 17th September

    I am a whole new person after a two week digital sabbatical, and awesome adventure trip to the tropics. SJN has often suggested that we all benefit from unplugging briefly (I take a brief digital sabbatical weekly) but this was my first extended break from phone, email, online and all the other inputs that have accumulated in my professional and personal life in longer than I can remember.

    It was great.

    As a long-time technology sales specialist I expected some push-back for being unavailable for two weeks. Positive responses were overwhelming and included: envy (5), support (3), requests for a post-sabbatical trip report (2), requests for a how-to blog post, and one colleague who let me know he didn’t think I could stay out of touch with the office for that long – I did.

    I don’t think any of us at SJN Sales will take extended digital sabbaticals very often but we are encouraging everyone to review their e-habits and take time off from the digital deluge once in a while.

    My post-sabbatical productivity boost is also a really benefit.

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