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/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/no_internet_499216.jpgLast week I enjoyed a lazy beach vacation in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. My family rented a small beachfront home. We called it The Shack, so that should partially explain its simplicity. In addition to no central air and one of the “bedrooms” located in an enclosed area under the house’s stilts, we also had no wireless connection. While I knew I could find an internet connection at a local coffee house, I decided to just do without.

Not only was I completely disconnected from work, but I was also disconnected from all my other personal online activity. I couldn’t pay bills, look up directions, read my favorite blogs, or e-mail my friends. To be fair, we had mobile data available, but the kids hit our monthly limit astoundingly fast, so we mostly did without.

Many of us have read the sage advice about “disconnecting” from time to time – to take time out to truly relax and enjoy the moment. I won’t debate the pros and cons, but suffice it to say that for me, I’m glad I did it.

I learned:

  • Work is never truly done. I’ve spent previous vacations largely connected to work, and it still wasn’t done when I returned. Missing a week this year did not make my projects implode.
  • It took me a lot less time to plow through my emails on my return because I was able to sort entire threads and focus on the most important parts of each thread.
  • It was difficult to adjust to a lack of new messages every few minutes, but adjust I did. It was lovely not having my computer alert me to new messages every other minute.
  • With no internet, we really did spend more time together and had more memorable conversations than I can recall in previous “working vacation” years.
  • Sleeping outside on the deck of a beach house is actually quite comfortable, and even though the sun rise woke me up, I was glad for it. It’s a much more pleasant way to start the day than the beeping of my alarm.

My daily routine is now back in full swing after a 12 hour drive home, but I’m glad for that as well. My experience of not having ready access to the internet was worth the temporary anxiety of, well, not having ready access to the internet.

If you haven’t given it a go, I highly recommend it. If you have tried disconnecting, was it difficult to adjust to being “unplugged?”

[Image source: openclipart.org]

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4 Comments

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  1. Ramesh Babu Nagarajan

    Of the all most important comment you made is very true – Lack of new messages every few minutes is something will literally make feel empty even during working time.

    To really remain disconnected, we should do away with the mobile phone or just switch it off for the whole duration and use only in case of emergency. Otherwise this new mails will really bug you to respond and I have so many people who go on vacation still responding to mails when it isn’t expected

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    1. Carolyn Brock Post author

      Good point Ramesh. Every device can be distracting. As a compromise, I left my phones on the kitchen counter so I could check them periodically for urgent matters, but i did not carry them around on the beach or to restaurants.

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  2. Siddharth Sharma

    Good blog Carolyn!

    I think all of us should have these ‘Digitally Disconnected’ vacations to focus on the other aspects of life.However,unfortunately, Maslows basic needs hierarchy is now re-designed to look something like this 😉

    IMG-20140611-WA0002.jpg

    I think that work has become such an essential part of  our lives that we do not make any explicit efforts to disconnect and most of the disconnect happens only due  to external influences (Wifi not available etc)

    I remember one time I was vacationing in Amsterdam and we were on one these guided Canal tours and I was getting constant beeps on my phone which I was “forced” to check..almost like an OCD.Had it not been the frowns of the guide and my friend,I would not have switched my phone off.I carried this habit of keeping my phone switched off for the rest of my vacation and I think I enjoyed my vacation better.

    I’m definitely looking forward to more such vacations! 🙂

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