4 Lessons Learned From a Week of Unplugging

It’s 2016 and nearly everyone is addicted to their smartphone. This isn’t anything new to us either, most have been addicted to checking Facebook, Twitter, sports scores and everything in between for years now.

So, when people hear of unplugging for a week, most will not want to do it. They won’t know what to do without their smartphone or computer for 7 full days.

And I thought the same.

How could I, a guy who has worked solely from the computer (and phone) every day for the past 6 years, possibly unplug for a week and not lose my mind?

It’s going to sound cliche but…I just did it.

I knew that I needed a break from clients, social media and staring at a computer screen all day, so I decided to unplug for a full week. Having a big family vacation coming up also made it easier to commit.

So, last week, I travelled to the beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands with 10 family members for my first ever out-of-country vacation. Ever since the trip was booked (more than 2 years in advance), we all agreed to be unplugged for the entire week we stayed there.

Here’s what I learned.

You aren’t missing anything

Here’s another fear I had when going a full 7 days without a phone or internet: missing out on major news.

Since I’m on social media every day and looking for new content to share, the thought of missing out on a new Drake single, an epic solar eclipse or anything in between was frightening. It’s nothing I had thought of before.

Well, to my surprise, I’ve learned that nothing happens when you’re gone.

I mean this in 2 ways.

1 – Nothing happens because you’re having an amazing time and aren’t even thinking of what you’re missing. You’re having too much fun to worry about anything going on anywhere else in the world.

2 – Literally nothing important will happen (probably). Unless you knew it was coming beforehand, the chances of something rare or important happening are unlikely.

When I was off the grid, the new iPhone SE was released. That’s the only important piece of news that I missed, and it was something I knew was coming before I left for the trip.

If you find yourself starting to think about what you’re missing back at home, you need to reassess your thinking and realize that your unplugged vacation is far more important than anything else.

Bottom line: Don’t worry about what you’re missing. It isn’t nearly as important as your trip. The chances of something noteworthy happening are slim.

We aren’t built to multi-task

I’ve been multi-tasking for practically my entire life and I’ve just come to the realization that we really aren’t built to multi-task.

Think about all of the times you multi-task in a day and answer this simple question: do any of the tasks include looking at your computer or phone?

I’m willing to bet the answer is yes. Same with me.

While on this unplugged vacation, I was able to go a full day without multi-tasking for the first time since I can remember.

Now, I’m not gonna sit here and say that I was able to solve the world’s toughest puzzle by not multi-tasking, but I will say that I noticed a difference in my focus and overall demeanor.

I was more attentive and alive without a phone in my hand. When a question was asked at lunch or dinner, none of my family gave answers that didn’t make sense, which is unfortunately a common occurrence that stems from texting/tweeting and trying to answer a question at the same time.

Since I also didn’t text and walk like I usually do at least once per day, I was able to walk quicker and get to my destination faster. That may not seem like a big deal but think of the anatomy. The goal is to get to my destination as quick as possible, and taking the phone (distraction) out of the equation allowed me to reach my goal quicker.

The biggest eye-opener of this revelation is that multi-tasking is tied to some sort of screen (phone, computer, TV) 90+% of the time. And when one of the tasks doesn’t involve a screen, it doesn’t seem as difficult.

For example, putting your shoes on and solving a math problem at the same time isn’t as difficult as trying to text someone and pay attention to that movie you’re watching at the same time.

Multi-tasking leads to slower performance, disappointment and lack of memory. Lack of memory when it comes to the task(s) you just completed. Since your brain is spread so thin, it’s tougher to remember precise details.

Multi-tasking has been proven to be inefficient and now I can full-heartedly agree.

Bottom line: No phone/computer = more attentive = complete tasks quicker and more effectively.

Automate your business(es)

After committing to unplugging for a week, I was constantly thinking of my online businesses and how they would make money without myself running the day-to-day operations.

Admittedly, I have always been bad at completely automating/delegating a process that I am capable of doing myself. It’s a bad habit that I’m working on.

Since I was literally unable to do any task online this time, I had 2 choices: automate via systems and hire freelancers or leave money on the table by doing nothing.

Unfortunately, for one of my content-based businesses, I was unable to find any talent (freelancers) that fit the bill. So, I not only left money on the table and let the audience down by not posting content, but a dark cloud, fueled by guilt, constantly hovered over my head to remind me how much I suck.

On the positive side, I was able to hire freelancers and pay for software that automated two of my other online businesses. This allowed these businesses to run smoothly, as if nothing was ever missing. And since time is the most valuable asset we have, the ROI is priceless.

Bottom line: AUTOMATE! Seriously.

You don’t want a dark cloud of guilt and the thought of lost money haunting you when you get back, so do yourself a favor and find a way to automate/delegate tasks.

Happiness is (almost) guaranteed

Ever have a great day until you read a nasty email or see some sad news on Facebook?

Me too.

So, what do you get when you have no device to read that nasty email or Facebook post on? Unlimited happiness!

Unless you hurt yourself, I’ve found that you will most likely be positive and happy throughout the entire vacation.

Bottom line: No phone/computer = no negativity = great vacation!

So, there you have it! Those are just a few of the lessons I learned from an unplugged week-long vacation in the Turks & Caicos Islands.

Have you unplugged for a week before? If not, do you plan to after reading this? Let me know in a comment below!