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Day 55: Unplug – How To Restore Your Sanity and Reclaim Your Life


Between email, cell phones, and seemingly unending work days, we’ve never been more enslaved to our many masters.

And the worst part is, we allow it to happen.

But we feel there’s nothing we can do to break free. We’d love to unplug from the circuitry which tethers us to endless obligations, but we feel that if we do, somehow the world will stop spinning. That our families, bosses, or friends won’t be able to go on without having instant access to us at all times.

Nonsense.

These people all got on before they met you, right? They can make do without you for a little bit each day. You need to stand your ground, though, and carve out a space for you to unplug and disconnect from the world of noise and connect to your inner world.

When we’re always on the go, overwhelmed with information, and deluged in digital noise, it’s all too easy to become passengers in our lives, along for the ride, but not really present … or in control.

Here’s a few tips for unplugging and regaining your life.

Carve out your time.
The first thing you need to do is to get some “you-time.”
Only you know what you can comfortably ask for. A half hour a day? An hour? Maybe even two? The important thing is to make people aware that you will be out of touch for a while.
Find a time of the day you’re least needed. Have a friend, family member, or babysitter on hand if you need time away from your family. Maybe you can even set up a “I’ll watch your kids if you watch mine” deal. Consider similar deals with co-workers – you cover me for a bit, I’ll return the favor.

Of course, you’ll probably have to take your cell phone in case of emergencies, but make it clear, there shouldn’t be any emergencies! Chances are good, if you stake your claim to a set time, and stick to it, people will learn to respect your boundaries.

Get away.
You don’t have to necessarily leave your work or home to find a private spot. But you do need to find a spot where you won’t be bothered by those looking for you to fulfill their needs. Even if you need to just drive and sit in a parking lot somewhere, the important part is to find some time for you.

Go to a park.
Some quiet time with nature can cleanse away the noise and tech pollution which chokes our lives. Take a walk, or just sit on a bench and take in the scenery of life outside the rat race.

Read a book.
Books are a great escape from reality. Find a book which helps you relax or at least get your mind off of life’s stresses. Make some time each day or night to read – even if it’s just a few minutes before bed.

Meditate.
Every now and then, the constant noise gets to be too much. Whether it’s work or the constant din of a busy household, sometimes you need some quiet space. Meditation is a great way to turn the volume down and recharge your batteries.

Set email limits.
Michael Masterson, author of Ready, Fire, Aim, starts his day by devoting his morning hours to work he needs to get done – BEFORE opening any email. Masterson schedules one time a day to open his email, because he knows if he’s constantly checking it, he’ll be lost down the same rabbit hole we all fall into, known as the inbox. If your schedule allows, set times of the day you’ll handle your email, and let others know. If they REALLY need you, tell them to call you.

Turn off your TV.
I love TV, so I recognize the difficulty of this task for some people. And TV isn’t all bad – it can be relaxing, educational, entertaining, and despite what some critics say, inspirational. However, consider other uses of your time which might be more rewarding. Learning a new skill, meditation, reading, writing that book you’ve been wanting to write.

Besides, how many episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit do you really need to watch? How many sporting events do you really have to see? When you’re on your death bed, which would you regret more – not having had more time to do things or not having watched more TV?

Unplugging isn’t just about the solo experience.

Unplugging at home is something you can do with the whole family.

Make a commitment to turning off the TV and spending some quality time with your loved ones. Play board games or eat dinner without the distraction of TV, cell phones, or other electronic stimuli.
If you’ve got young children, you might try bonding with them by cooking together, reading with them, or enjoying hobbies you can do together.

I realize it’s almost impossible to unplug completely, unless you’re going to make radical life changes. However, you can seize a bit more of your time each day and spend it engaged in activities which will enrich your life.

Because eventually, we’re all going to be unplugged, so we ought to make sure the time we are here is spent making meaningful memories and living the lives we want.

 

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David Wright is a ghostwriter who also blogs about fatherhood