The importance of disconnecting

Note: Since this post was written, I’ve started my own digital marketing business, so now some time to disconnect is more important than ever. Read about the business here.

If you’ve been waiting for a blog backstory, this is it.

A study published last year on The Huffington Post revealed that research participants checked their phones an average of 85 times per day. While most of those sessions were “short bursts,” less than 30 seconds of activity, that’s a huge number.

Another study showed that users spend 90 minutes a day on their phone … which translates to 23 days a year.

And those studies don’t even take into account the time spent on a computer. If you work a desk job, you’re most likely spending at least 8 hours a day looking at a screen.

All of that screen time takes a toll on our health, personal lives and professional lives as well.

I started really thinking about the importance of disconnecting when I wrote a story in 2014 on an Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor’s involvement with the National Day of Unplugging. Luis Almeida, who started the EsctheMachine movement to urge a break from technology, said that society has “become numb” to the effects that technology has.

“The more a subject interacts with a computerized device, the more computer-like behaviors a subject acquires and displays over time without realizing it.”

He called that Human Robot Syndrome, and explained that humans are trying to overwork themselves, to work just as hard a computer would, when the human brain is not made to withstand so much data.

During our interview, we discussed the effects of technology on health, personal life as well as on work.

“Employees who are working 60 to 70 hours a week tend to get sick more often … which has an impact on productivity,” Almeida said. So he asks, “Are we mentally exhausting ourselves for the sake of technology?

“We’re no longer (working) 9 to 5, we’re 9 to forever.”

EsctheMachine’s mission is to encourage a break from using technology and instead promoting human interaction, conversation and community involvement.


I took a look at my own life. 

As a digital media specialist for a marketing and publishing company, I spend a huge percentage of my day on a computer, phone or tablet. Not to mention, I get home and blog as a hobby. And that’s a lot of screen time.

Add to that the fact that I was constantly texting people, dabble in online gaming and love taking photos with my camera or phone — and sharing them on social networks.

Plus, in 2016, we’re consuming more social media than ever before. Trust me, I SELL social media management for a living.

But I realized at some point that, just because digital media is my professional life, doesn’t mean it has to be my personal life, too. 

So I started to disconnect. Here’s how:

I turned off notifications

I turned off push notifications of emails to my phone completely — if someone needs you urgently, emailing isn’t the best way to get a hold of you, anyway. I turned off the sound on my phone — and not just occasionally, always. While there are certain times when I’m waiting to hear from someone specific that I might turn the sound back on, 99.9% of the time, sound is off.

I stopped texting

OK, I didn’t stop texting. But I realized that I didn’t need to be constantly texting other people. When you stop texting someone 24/7, it turns out you have way more to talk about in person the next time you see them (surprise!).

I went outside

When I started spending more time outdoors, I realized how much I needed the outdoors to survive. I realized that hiking was one of my favorite hobbies, and that it was not only healthy, but meditative as well.

I stopped being a work martyr

In a world where you’re constantly connected, you constantly feel that you have to accomplish tasks as soon as they’re asked of you. I was working hours I didn’t need to because I didn’t think tasks could wait until the next work day.

In most cases, they can.

I learned to say no

Sometimes, I was asked to do a task that I just couldn’t handle or didn’t have the time to accomplish. I would sacrifice personal time to get the job done – -and sometimes it wasn’t done well. I learned to say no and find a proactive solution to a task that I didn’t know how to do.

Most importantly, I started going offline

And that’s the point: That you need to spend a chunk of your day not attached to any kind of device. My time is when I’m in the woods, reading a book or just sipping coffee on my deck.


So think about it: If you spent more time disconnected, what could you accomplish? Maybe you could spend more uninterrupted time with friends and family. Maybe you could go on that camping trip you’ve always planned on. Or, maybe you’d find that you’re having an easier time meeting your health and fitness goals.

Whatever your priorities, consider what some offline time could do for you. And consider living part of your Life Disconnected.


Feeling burned out? It might be time to limit technology use.

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  1. I’d say this is a pretty spectacular blog background. I comment you for unplugging! It’s something I have learned to do with time, but that I can always improve on. Sometimes it’s my body that tells me, “Ok, we’ve done enough today. Enjoy the daylight. Walk the dog. Sit still for just a second.”


  2. These are great tips! I am kind of a smart phone addict myself, so NOT being connected is hard, but I always enjoy when I travel since I put my phone on airplane mode, which makes it easy to just not think too much about the internet (minus wanting to look something up).

  3. Fantastic post! I myself get migraines quite badly if I spend to much time looking at screens (which also happens to be my job as a Regional Administrator) I really need to go offline more often! Being in a time where computer and screens are everywhere it’s hard to resist but I’m going to have to make the effort
    (I can feel a migraine coming on but here I am on the PC reading blogs! I am my own worst enemy!)

  4. I love reading this. I also work in the digital world and spend much of my time online. I really enjoy the time I get to go out for a hike and into nature, unplugged and turning the phone off. You also have some great tips for being less connected! I need to turn off my notifications 🙂

  5. This article comes at the right time for me when I´m actually getting wound up in 60hours/week of online work as a new digital nomad. Thanks for the tips, it gives food for thoughts…

  6. I could not agree more. I recently turned off my notifications and I have noticed that I am much more productive and chill. I still check my phone regularly and I’m sure that won’t change much over the next months but I certainly don’t miss the constant buzzing, beeping and lighting up. At first I was scared of missing out on something, but to be honest, should there be any emergency, people can simply call and I’ll answer.

  7. I need to do this more! Disconnecting feels so good. The best times I have are when I’m unplugged and connecting with my daughter outside.

  8. Such a great post and reminder to turn it off! I need to be better at this and it is one of my goals for 2017! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  9. Hi Ellen,

    This is a very thought provoking post! I agree too that it is hard to un-plugged when your profession relies on staying connected. From reading your article I have identified some easy ways to take that needed break and connect with my husband and kids each and every day! Thank you for the inspiration!
    xo Debbie |

  10. Great tips! I am a social media & smartphone addict. My kids are the ones that made me turn off & reconnect with them. Thanks for reminding me again:)

  11. Going offline is so important and something I need to practice on a regular basis. My work requires me to be online a lot of the time, and then I come home and I do social media for my business or I’m doing research, or just roaming the web for entertainment. I think having less screen time would really help me be more stress-free and would help me with my creativity. I used to write poems and short pieces of fiction, but I haven’t in SO LONG. I think it might be because I’m always being stimulated by one thing or anything and I don’t have any offline time to just relax and collect my creative thoughts.

  12. Kat

    I’m all for this! I try to force myself to go outside and water my plants one by one every day to get my outside time. Then I don’t turn on my phone or go check anything online until I’ve had a nice slow breakfast with my cat lol. I’m also a fan of afternoon tea…matcha to be exact. It keeps you sane for sure!

  13. Hi Ellen!

    We went up into the Sierra Mountains during Thanksgiving and it forced me to disconnect for a few days because we absolutely no signal. It felt great to be out in nature and not worry about what was happening on my phone. It really allowed us to be in the moment and enjoy the scenery 🙂

    xo Gennifer

  14. Meghan

    Man I love disconnecting from the internet. The only time I get that chance is when I am actually abroad. It’s so hard to do it with a blog though because to stay current, you need to be updated.

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