Digital Detox : How to Unplug from Social Media

digital-detox-social-media-barbara-rozgonyiIt was something I’d wanted to do for about eight years: a digital detox to unplug from social media and email.

Sure, I could take an afternoon, a day or a weekend off, but I wanted a deep cleansing.

To get that effect, I knew I needed at least a week away.

The last time I’d truly disconnected was on a trip to Paris in 2010.

A 10 day trip to England provided the perfect opportunity to unplug – if I wanted to.

And so, as we were riding along the English countryside, I took a picture from the train window. Tagging it with #DigitalDetox and a 5/15 return date, I posted it to all of my social networks.

The sense of relief was overwhelming. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’d drafted possible social media posts in the middle of the night for two nights before I decided to go off grid.

If I was this affected by social media, maybe I really did need a break.

Now that I’m back, I wonder about my hesitation. Was it really that big of a deal to turn everything off? For me, no. The benefits were enormous and I recommend you try it, too.

What really happens to your brain and body during a digital detox? According to Fast Company, “The lack of constant distraction appeared to free people’s minds to contemplate more important issues in their lives, and it also made them believe they had the willpower to sustain a transformation.”

The last time I checked in on social media was the day we left, May 2. I did set up an outgoing vacation message for my email accounts. But, I was vacillating about whether or not to be active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.

Play by Play Vaca

Some folks, including me some times, love to report vacation play-by-play with pictures, headlines, hashtags and check ins.

But . . . this means you do need to check out of where you are and check into the Internet to post.

Then, you can wait and see who likes what and why.

While all this activity can be exciting, it can also be emotional.

Because . . . in order to check your notifications, you’re also going to run across other updates.

For example, on Mother’s Day, my husband showed me a Facebook pic of a family we both adore. “I love those people, and I’m happy for them, but I don’t want to see them while I’m on vacation,” I said, sounding surprisingly contrary and aggravated. I’d gotten so used to being in a world without the Internet, I didn’t want to go there.

How about you? Are you ready to take a break from the Internet?

Not everybody is ready to unplug, though. A survey shows significantly fewer workers prefer to completely unplug from work while on a family vacation. Roughly just one third (37 percent) of Americans report unplugging from work completely while taking time off, a significant drop from 53 percent in 2017. More than half (59 percent) say they put pressure on themselves to work during family vacations, with 57 percent saying they do so to avoid coming back to a mountain of work.

How to Unplug from Social Media and Do a Deep Cleansing Digital Detox

Decide on how long you want to stay away

Even a few hours can have a restorative effect. If you can manage a week or longer, you’ll come back feeling refreshed, ready and more organized. Your mental, and physical, posture will be better.

Need a nudge? Check out Lifehacker’s best app to help you stay off of your phone.

Notify your networks

Tell people you’ll be off grid and let them know when you’ll be coming back.

For example, I sent out posts on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

And, every email in my inbox got an automated vacation response.

Remember to post similar updates on any company pages.

You can post a preview message like “In one week [give the date] I’ll be going on a 10 Day #DigitalDetox. Need to chat or set up an appointment before then? Here’s how [link to your scheduling calendar]

And . . . turn off notifications on your phone. Even better? Keep your phone in airplane mode.

Get a Digital Detox Back Up Buddy

Have a project in progress? Make sure you have someone who can monitor it for you and can communicate with your contacts while you’re away.

Ideally, clients will know that you will be unreachable.

If they have your personal cell phone number, record an outgoing message that says you’re away from the office and will be checking back in on the date you return.

Unless it’s truly an urgent matter, resist the urge to call back – and listen to messages.

Expect to be Interrupted on Your Digital Detox

Over the course of 25 plus years as a business owner, I’ve been out of the office and on vacation many times.

Even with the best of plans, work goes on vacation, too.

I’ve made conference calls from quiet laundry rooms, written blog posts in local libraries and managed interviews [with a driver] on busy expressways.

On this trip, I got texts I chose not to respond to. Yes, the sender could see that I read them, but they also knew I was out of the country.

It’s not always work. Family and friends can drop in unexpectedly. If you don’t want to hear from them, let them know you’ll be off grid or leave your phone at home.

Don’t Crash – Activate a Crisis Plan

While we were on vacation at the happiest place on earth in 2007, I decided to check email and found that my blog was deleted by WordPress.

I was not happy.

When my husband said, “I’m sure you’ve backed up all of your posts, right?”

Um, nope I had not. I had typed every single character directly into WordPress.

Talk about a quick drop into a tower of terror!

I flew into a downward spiral before I got off the ride. I did quickly recover all of the posts, but it took me six years to get the blog reactivated.

Now I never, ever compose a blog post in WordPress. It’s always in Word where the file is named and saved.

Imagine the worst case scenario and then put plans in place to avert any crisis.

You may want to download your social media posts before you go.

Everything Will be Ok – Because It Always Is

No matter what happens on your screen while you’re away, everything will be okay.

Why? Because it always is.

My brother tells me this over and over and over again.

And, he’s right.

You can choose to be okay. Even if one or two things are not right, lots of stuff is.

Remember, worry is a one way elevator down.

If you’re worried, allow yourself to go down a floor or two, open the door – don’t get out – and take a look.

Decide that’s not where you want to go, and then hit the button to go right back up to the top.

What’s on your screen now will still be there when you get back.

Get Ready for Reentry

You took lots of cool pictures.

You have new stories to tell.

You feel refreshed.

So, get ready to share and get back into social media.

Your first post could be “So what’d I miss?”

When do you think you’ll do your Digital Detox?

Thanks for reading! #digitaldetox

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