You need energy to do your best work or be a good friend or partner. Weekends give energy. So unplug for the next 60 hours or so, because when you’re detached from your work over the weekend, you are able to recover from your workweek.
"The afternoon lazed along, and when I checked my phone at 5 p.m., I was shocked to find its battery life at a historical high-for-that-time-of-day 50%. My detox was saving battery life (!) which was saving energy (!) which was saving the earth!"
Thurston took a 25 day break from the Internet. You should, too. Here’s a printable guide to unplugging, which you can refer to when you feel the urge to reach for your phone.
“I am here” day is a time to “set aside our technology and to-do lists, choose a quarter of the city we wanted to know better, and explore it for a full day… . [It is] a kind of antimodern communal experiment: giving our gadgets a secular Sabbath; reveling in friendship and conversation of a kind that Facebook doesn’t do; being thickly in one place, not thinly everywhere.”
“At the bar, my recently rediscovered heads-up
display—aka my eyes—revealed a person next to me, and for several hours I found myself in a fascinating conversation with one of the dancers from the Broadway musical Spider-Man.”
As part of our #Unplug series we asked, “What do you miss (if anything) about life before the digital age?” Here are some of our favorite responses:
- "The art of conversation, mystique and actually getting to know a person at a natural rate than via online presence… and of course privacy…” —Bree Williams
- "Peacefulness and serenity." —Henry Johns
- "The happy ignorance of not knowing how genuinely crazy some of my friends and family are.” —Todd Wilson
- "People actually having to work to stalk you." —Daisuke Iwamura
- "Wonder. Before the Internet you would wonder about everything. Now you can just look it up." —Matthew Green
Here, a few more things we miss about life before the digital age
“I considered fleeing to a remote island for a few weeks, but I realized I wasn’t craving physical escape. I didn’t actually want to be alone. I just wanted to be mentally free of obligations, most of which asserted themselves in some digital fashion.”
1. I had become obsessed with The Information.
2. I shared too much.
3. I was addicted to myself.
4. I forsook the benefits of the Industrial Age.
"The greatest gift I gave myself was a restored appreciation for disengagement, silence, and emptiness. I don’t need to fill every time slot with an appointment, and I don’t need to fill every mental opening with stimulus."
“It was like, oh my god, I can be so much more productive if I actually let my brain have a little downtime. When I get up in the morning I’m very sharp now. I can do things much faster. I’m much more focused. I feel much fresher. I feel like I used to feel before the Internet was popular.”
-Kord Campbell, who recently participated in a digital detox hosted by Camp Grounded. We’ve collected stories from people who regularly unplug from their devices.
So you need to #unplug. You’re feeling overwhelmed by your gadgets—connected to your email list but not to your personal life. It’s time to take a break. It is precisely for times like these that we’ve created a guide to unplugging.
These step-by-step instructions will walk you through the difficult (but rewarding!) process of unplugging, from deciding when to unplug to informing your friends and coworkers that you’ll be offline for a while to avoiding the biggest temptations to plug back in. Here you’ll find advice from digital detoxing experts, business leaders, and our readers, whom we asked to use the #unplug hashtag to submit their best methods for logging off.
We encourage you to print these pages, and when you find yourself reaching for your phone, reach for this guide instead for tips on how to overcome the urge to use your devices. And when you’re ready to rejoin the digital world, come to FastCompany.com, and we’ll help you find the most seamless way to do so.
Your brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes before it needs a break. Why? It’s the ultradian rhythm, a cycle that’s present in both our sleeping and waking lives.
“What (if anything) do you miss the most about life before the digital age?”
"Face to face conversations. Children playing outside." -Richard Saling
"I miss actual phone conversations. People only want to Facebook and text! No one wants to have phone conversations anyone it seems.” -Angel Spikes
"QUIET movie theatre experiences….and yes…vinyl records (which I still collect)." -Greg Hale
"Seclusion" -Brian Tromburg
“Wonder. Before the Internet you would wonder about everything. Now you can just look it up.” -Matthew Green
"The happy ignorance of not knowing how genuinely crazy some of my friends and family are." -Todd Wilson
Why do we keep responding to the beep and buzz of our phones? Because we’re addicted to success explains Harvard Business School prof Leslie Perlow.
“I love my devices and services, and I love being connected to the global hive mind. I am neither a Luddite nor a hermit, but I am more aware of the price we pay: lack of depth, reduced accuracy, lower quality, impatience, selfishness, and mental exhaustion, to name but a few. In choosing to digitally enhance, hyperconnect, and constantly share our lives, we risk not living them…”
Here’s more about #unplugging.
“There were movies, there were food trucks, there were friends, there was mulled wine. There was brief consideration of a mulled-wine food truck. Above all, there was an expansion of sensations and ideas.”
“I personally started unplugging one day a week, I’ve done it now for almost 3 years with my family, and it’s changed my life.”
Tiffany Shlain, digital filmmaker and founder of the Webby Awards.
When is the best time to unplug? Here, some options.