Recently a friend shared an article on Facebook — the gist of which was a challenge to disconnect for 100 days — turn off all electronic devices that connect you to the outside world. Several people had commented that this would be a hard challenge, that they couldn’t live without email, Facebook, Twitter, texting and more.
My comment? It shouldn’t be hard, it’s called “the weekend”! Between weekends and a week or two of vacation, achieving 100 disconnected days should be pretty easy.
Can you disconnect when you leave the office at the end of the day and stay disconnected — professionally and personally — while you are at home? The thought of doing that might make you feel anxious and that’s no surprise since being connected has become a habit for so many of us. A habit is “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary” — and we know that not all habits are good.
Can you go cold turkey? If not, try disconnecting gradually:
- Let people know that you won’t be responding to emails, texts or social media conversations after a certain hour. (Think about it, many stores close at 9:00 p.m. so that they can restock – shouldn’t you be able to do the same?)
- Start with one night a week where you don’t check emails after you leave the office.
- Turn off notifications on your devices, one program at a time.
- Actually sign-off of programs on your PC, tablet and phone.
- Next, disconnect when your work day is done on Friday and go all day Saturday without getting your “fix”.
- When you discover the joy of being disconnected, you are ready to take Sunday off.
- After that, enjoy a totally disconnected vacation for a week or two.
My longest disconnect? 17 days! It was one of those “trips of a lifetime”. My husband won a one-week trip for four to Maui, Hawaii. Well, that’s a long trip for just a week so we added a couple days on in the beginning with a stop-over in San Diego. Then we added a full week so we could explore O’hau and visit Pearl Harbor.
Did I loose friends on Facebook? Who knows? Did the Twitter-sphere miss me? I doubt it! Where my clients in a panic? No, they knew well in advance what my game plan was and who to contact if they needed something. Yes, I came back to several hundred emails pouring in. However, with all of the rules and filters I have in place, just the key ones ended up in my in-box and they were easy enough to deal with immediately. The rest waited until I had time.
Did I enjoy my “trip of a lifetime”? You bet I did!