After The #Unplug: How To Reclaim Your Digital Life

You went offline for a while, now you have to come back. But how do you incorporate the best parts of your digital detox into your every day life?

Over the last week, we've provided you with a complete guide to unplugging. If you've done your detox and you're ready to turn off your "out of office" message and come back to the digital world, here are a few tips on how to reintegrate while still maintaining some of the benefits of an Internet-free life:

Come back, but cut the digital fat: When Baratunde Thurston returned from his 25-day detox, he announced his homecoming across his various social networks. But when it came time to flip the switch on his apps, he took inventory: "I realized something: I didn’t have to reverse all of it. There was no rule that I had to restore Shazam’s rights of interruption on my lock screen. There was no law forcing me to be notified of each Twitter mention. It was possible to enjoy music without auto-publishing each Rdio track to my Facebook Timeline."

In other words, consider leaving some of your addiction-enabling digital activities behind for good. "Do not get notifications on your smart phone from social sites such as Facebook, Emails, etc.," suggests Levi Felix, founder of Digital Detox, a company that offers tech-free retreats. "Choose when you want to check your messages and be intentional about it, don't let them choose you."

Set boundaries: When you rejoin the digital world, try to structure your online time, says Kimberly Young, founder and director at the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery. "For one hour you get to do what you really want do on the Internet. The next day two hours, then three..."

Kord Campbell, who recently participated in a digital detox hosted by Camp Grounded, found limiting his online time post-detox made him far more productive. "I try to focus on what it is I need to get done today. I know I only have X amount of time, so I need to get it all done before bedtime rolls around."

Make a list of activities you want to avoid: Young also suggests keeping a log of warning signs that suggest you're slipping into dangerous, Internet addiction territory. "What was it that got you to that point in the first place?" she asks. Knowing these triggers can help you avoid them.

Make a list of things you want to do more often: Felix tells unpluggers to make note of the moments they felt the most happy during their detox, and commit to working those things into daily life. For example, if you loved waking up without your phone, leave it outside the bedroom twice a week.

Set aside "you" time: For Campbell, one of the hardest parts of reconnecting to his digital life was "realizing it feels much better without it and having to accept you have to come back and use it." To help ease this pain, Felix recommends setting aside designated time for yourself. "We advise people to continue to 'handle you' before you handle the rest of the world," says Felix.

"Unoccupied moments are beautiful, so I have taken to scheduling them," says Thurston. "Once a quarter, my chief of staff and I institute a zero-appointments 'Blank Week,' and almost every week I tune out of the Matrix for hours at a time (yes, while I am awake and conscious)."

Have you ever done a digital detox? What did you learn, and how did you rejoin the Internet? Tell us here, or use the #unplug hashtag.

[Electricity: Fer Gregory via Shutterstock]

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1 Comments

  • Zephod Beeblebrox

    I must be an oddball. I have Twitter but I automated the tweets and follower adders as it just broadcasts my business advertising. I have facebook but do nothing with it - it just takes its content from my Twitter feed. I don't do anything with Google+. I have a business blog that updates automatically from 3 months worth of weekly postings that I wrote when I had a quiet time a few weeks ago. I'm very much hands off with this internet stuff. I don't even have a business website as a website would cost money as would the domain name and the liklihood of getting income via the internet is so minimal that I just don't bother.

    Other internet garbage I just don't touch - aside from posting here occasionally.