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Work-Life Balance: The Digital Detox, Part 2
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Work-Life Balance: The Digital Detox, Part 2 - Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: The Digital Detox, Part 2

Executive Leadership Articles

Work-Life Balance: The Digital Detox, Part 2

In our first article on the subject, we presented the case for the benefits of a digital detox, suggesting that it can be useful to go cold turkey for a short period of time, if only to reset and fine-tune the ubiquity of our connectedness in everyday life. Now that you've had time to mull it over, you're ready to make plans for your unplugged journey, and we present some practical things to consider.

If you're willing to spend the money (and extended time), consider the detox retreat services currently growing in number. You can select one based on your level of need. For instance, some retreats offer a good, unplugged time away from your devices, while others present as rehab opportunities, with counseling and structured reflection, similar to fitness camps addressing psychological sources of unhealthy living.

If you'd like something a little less formal but still event-like, consider planning a detox retreat with friends. A getaway in the mountains or at some reasonably-priced resort with some close friends who share the desire to unplug can make the experience more sustainable. If resolutions are made, for example, they will be made in the company of people in a position to help you stick to them. Take turns planning the activities of the retreat, and engage in friendly competitions with silly consequences, such as an extended restriction from Instagram once the retreat is over for the first person who mentions work, or extra cleanup responsibilities for anyone caught holding a smartphone. There will be a temptation to take a lot of photos, which might violate the agreed-upon terms of the retreat, so work the details out ahead of time, perhaps considering a Polaroids-only photo rule, or shooting exclusively on film and developing the prints later. Make things easier for everyone and choose a location with no wifi, if you can find one. Here is where a lot of higher-end resorts can be appealing: many charge wifi rates that are easy to say no to.

If you're going it alone, there is a ton of advice on the web about things to consider, most of which primarily deal with preparation and execution. Let the important people know how to reach you in a real emergency. Announce on your social media sites that you'll be unplugging for a while--this one is very important if you communicate daily on these platforms, because people will notice your absence and they're very likely to worry if suddenly you are not there. Set up away-from-email auto-responses, change your outgoing voicemail messages, and make sure everyone at work understands how important this is to you, defining ahead of time what should be considered a real emergency.

Like anyone going through even temporary withdrawal, it's important to know your own tendencies and moments of weakness. If you don't handle solitude well, book a lot of your time for social activities, and stay away from your most plugged-in friends. If you're worried about boredom, plan low-tech activities that engage your brain and your senses like hiking, reading a novel with a great cup of coffee, learning a new craft, or working on puzzles. Plan low-tech alternatives to daily high-tech activities, such as hand-writing a letter, spending time in a brick-and-mortar bookstore, listening to music on 8-track tapes, or catching up in person with a friend you've seen nowhere but on Facebook for the past several years.

Many people will advise you to go in with goals or a purpose. If you're trying to address a specific problem in your too-connected life, this is certainly not a bad idea, but don't overrate the clinical approach to your detox, and don't underrate the detox as a growing experience. Be receptive to any learning, growth, enrichment, or insight your digital detox might open your eyes to: after all, it's not a punishment, and it need not be an ordeal, because the unforeseen joys of extended time unplugged may be the most valuable takeaway.

Just remember to jot it all down in your blog when you're done. You might as well get a few likes, retweets, and Klout points for all your effort!


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Work-Life Balance: The Digital Detox, Part 2 - Executive Leadership Articles

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