Can’t Hear Your Own Thoughts? Try a Digital Sabbatical

I reach a point each week where I just need to disconnect. My thoughts feel noisy, my focus, cluttered. It’s almost like I’m in overdrive and I don’t know where the brake is. You might feel this way, too, which is why I’d recommend taking a digital sabbatical.

Wait … What the heck is a digital sabbatical?

The idea of a digital sabbatical is to take a mindful break from distractions. Things like Facebook, email, Twitter, YouTube, you name it – if it distracts you from your actual life, you might consider turning it off. I’ve been taking a digital sabbatical each weekend, and it’s really helped me feel refreshed going into a new week.

How long should you disconnect?

To get the full benefits of unplugging, try it for a whole weekend, Friday night through Sunday night. You can get back to tweeting on Monday morning, but until then, close your beak. Pick a time on Friday that you want to pull the plug – then do it! No cheating allowed. You could even put a note on your computer that reminds you to keep off.

How to prepare for a digital sabbatical

The first thing you need to do is wrap up the loose ends before the weekend. If you don’t, you’ll feel jumpy and unprepared. Make sure your projects are finished, updates sent and look at the calendar for next week. If you don’t have anything pressing for Monday morning, you’re ready to start your sabbatical. During the weekend, make a choice to avoid:

  • Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.
  • Email.
  • Youtube.
  • Mindless TV watching. Go ahead and watch a movie with your sweetie or your kids, but don’t go channel surfing.
  • For even more peace during this time – turn off your cell phone. It’s extremely liberating.

Now, plug into creativity

The next part of a sabbatical is pretty awesome. I know from experience that giving yourself permission to unplug opens the door for you to create, be present with the people you love and go into the next week feeling rejuvenated.

Here are a few things you could do instead of plugging into distraction:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Read a book.
  • Spend a few hours at the library.
  • Go out for coffee with a friend.
  • Make slow food.
  • Write, take photos, knit, sew – whatever creative thing you like to do.
  • Talk to people you love in person.
  • Minimize your wardrobe.
  • Take a nap.
  • Write down ideas for a fun project.
  • See where the day takes you.
  • Simply be together, all the way.

This world is a busy, busy place, but we can opt out of the madness for a while. Instead of compulsively checking Facebook, what if you could simply sit back and smile? What if you looked your children in the eyes each time they talked? What if you could hear your own thoughts again? Believe me, it’s possible and it feels amazing.

What’s your experience with unplugging?

For more information on digital sabbaticals, read:

Be More With Less – It’s Time for a Digital Sabbatical

Rowdy Kittens – A Magical Block of Time

Gwen Bell – Digital Sabbatical

If you like this post, please share it with others. Thank you!

Photo by Cindi Matthews

Check out Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk, coming January 2016 from Delacorte Press/Random House. Visit her author site here.

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EDTC 6433 Presnky Chapter 6: Cell Phones to Bridge Technology Divide « Vanesa Roets' bPortfolio
February 27, 2011 at 2:56 am


1 Elisa November 2, 2010 at 10:01 am

I was actually talking about this with another online business person (I do most of my business online so does she) and we realized what a HUGE time suck social networking sites were.

So we are doing a challenge in November – 30 Minutes of Social Media for 30 Days. We are trying to limit our time on those sites & apps to only 30 minutes. It’s been interesting, and it’s only Day 2. I went through a detox of sorts yesterday. 🙂

Great to see this post in my reader today – just the reinforcement needed!

2 Melissa November 2, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Hi Elisa – That’s an awesome challenge! I love it! It is tempting to check Facebook statuses … just the thought tempts me to log on. But how about this – for the rest of the day, I WILL NOT log onto Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for the inspiration. 😉

3 Satya Colombo November 4, 2010 at 1:08 pm

That’s a great shot up there. Digital Sabbatical = really important for saving the sanity. Just was interviewing Mary Jaksch about how to create a zen retreat for yourself… really amazing! xo

4 Melissa November 5, 2010 at 8:05 am

Great topic – can’t wait to read that. Thanks for stopping by. I hope life is treating you well!

5 Sarah March 8, 2011 at 4:35 pm

I’ve been trying to implement this in little ways in my daily life. I have deactivated my Facebook a couple times only to realize that it really is the most efficient way to contact some people in my life. Since, I have reactivated, but turned off wall comments and comments on any posts that I make to my own page. If someone needs to contact me on fb, they can still send me a message. I no longer have the nagging need to check notifications – because there are none! – but fb is still there for when I “need” it.

6 Melissa March 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

That’s a good idea, Sarah! Another thing that helps is not getting email notifications of FB news … that way I can Facebook when I want or ignore it when I want.
Thanks for stopping by!

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