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How to successfully unplug from your devices

Person with PDA handheld device.Image via Wikipedia

The more our day-to-day lives (both professional and personal) become intertwined with laptops, mobile devices and social networks, the more difficult it becomes to unplug from everything.


I actually wrote this post in advance because I'm on vacation right now, and want nothing to do with any sort of electronic communication device. However, that is easier said than done, and I've trained myself how to untether from those devices over the years. Sometimes I'm more successful than others - it's always a work in progress!

I truly believe that our mobile devices create unnecessary stress in our lives, because we've opted in to having information (e-mails, texts, Twitter DMs, et cetera.) blasted to our person rather than retrieving it at our convenience.

If you're looking to disconnect over vacation, or even on a daily basis, here's a tip. If your iPhone or Blackberry device makes a noise every time you receive an e-mail, turn that off. Consume your email messages in chunks. Go to it. Don't let it interrupt you minute-by-minute.

I used to have a habit of checking my e-mail messages on my iPhone before I went in to work every morning. Then, I'd spend the drive to the office contemplating how I'd respond to each message, and this created unnecessary stress. I have a personal rule now where I don't look at my phone before I go in to work. This simple method has made my life much more relaxed.

Last but not least, if you're on Twitter, one of the greatest things you can do is learn how to ignore it. Your network of tweeps will still be there when you get back, and I know this is hard to believe, but you won't miss anything.

Don't get me wrong, I love being connected in real-time with interesting people via these amazing devices, but at some point you have to learn how to "go dark." How do you unplug? Looking forward to seeing your comments below.

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Comments

Awesome post, Nathan, definitely a topic I can relate to. You commented on not checking your phone before work due to creating unnecessary stress, do you suggest applying that same sort of rule to Saturdays and Sundays? Maybe placing an emphasis on simply monitoring, but not responding or interacting when you're out of the office for the weekend? I always have a hard time defining office hours in jobs that require extensive communication with the general public.
Hope you enjoyed your vacation!

Hi Reid, thanks for the comment. You are definitely one of many exceptions to the rule, as Panchero's customers have come to expect responses from your Twitter and Facebook presences 24/7 and on weekends! I'm interested to know how someone in your position handles that, or if it is even possible for one person to keep up that kind of responsiveness?

At first it was really hard to stay off tweetie and facebook on my iPhone, but to deter me from checking it after hours, I log out of the apps. Turns out I'm less likely to check them if I have to type my username and password in.

It is true that Twitter and Facebook users don't hold office hours. I'm still fairly new to a position where I'm expected to be reached at virtually all times of the day but I'm finding a few tips to help myself keep sanity while doing so. When I am in the office I love to hold conversations with my followers and respond to my Facebook wall as quickly as possible. However, when doors close at 5 and when I'm gone for the weekends I tend to hold back on the typical conversational aspects of the social hemisphere. I load Twitter on my phone practically every time I open it just out of curiosity of what is being said. Generally, though, I try to keep my comments and responses only to those who have urgent or time sensitive posts regarding Panchero's. I think it would be great for customers to be able to expect constant contact with a brand whenever they want, however, you are correct in the notion in which that would be far too much for one person to handle efficiently without losing their personal life all together. Luckily, I was already quite used to checking these platforms habitually long before I began working for Panchero's.
Thanks for the insight, Nathan! I constantly find myself struggling with this balance, but would never give it up for a regular 8-5 job.

ps. Eagerly anticipating the Facebook 3.0 release, which offers fan page support!

I don't have email or FB on my cell, but use email at work, for work. When I sit down to my PC at home I'm not always up for social networking so I check FB and home email every 2 - 3 days, which seems to be enough to keep me up to date. It is not so much a stress factor as it is a time-saving factor with the added benefit that when I'm out of town for a couple of days without access to a PC, I'm not missed on FB or email and haven't broadcast to the world that I'm away from home. Anyone who needs an immediate response from me can contact me the old fashioned way--by phone.

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