Why I’m Taking a Digital Sabbatical This Month

Inspired by Shanna’s current 45-day “Silent Treatment“, I’ve decided to spend the majority of August offline.

Why now? Why after my travels, when I’m back home and back to work full-time?

Each of the past two years Shanna’s mentioned her planned time away from social media I’ve felt a nudge to try out a non-vacation digital sabbatical…someday.

This year it was different. Last Friday, when I read Shanna’s update, I immediately felt the overwhelming urge to take a digital sabbatical now. And not just from social media but from the internet in general.

I have what Shanna calls “hungry head — I love learning about anything and everything and I can spend way too much time flitting from thing to thing online. It energizes and fuels me in a way that reading a magazine or book doesn’t.

But there’s a downside…namely that the voices I read online start to crowd out my own. And to do the work I have planned for August, I need to reduce the input available to me so that instead of flitting from thing to thing, I can focus on hearing my voice loud and clear.

So, I’m trying something I’ve never tried before: spending the rest of this month mostly offline.

My plan is to put my Freedom and Antisocial apps to good use (those aren’t affiliate links, by the way). Freedom blocks the internet for a specific amount of time. Antisocial blocks specific websites for a specific amount of time. Since most of my work is online, I can’t just shut down my wifi connection for the rest of the month (as tempting as going cold turkey sounds). Instead, I’ll simply block the internet until I have a Skype meeting or something.

I’ll still get online to post new articles on SPS, participate in this month’s Twitter chats, and post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’ll just pre-schedule as much as I can and will severely limit my active time online (I’m thinking 10 minutes a day for social media).

Honestly, I’m not sure it’s going to work! I mean, I do the majority of my work ONline. And already today I’ve slipped up by reading several blogs and checking Facebook three times. What if I block the internet and then realize the project I was going to work on is only available in Google Drive?

I’ve decided that it’s all good. I’m taking this digital sabbatical simply to re-orient myself to myself. If I mess up along the way, it’s ok. Failure is just data to learn from.

In the two weeks I’ve been home from my summer of nomading I’ve been paying a lot of attention to how I feel. I think that’s why I so clearly recognized my intense feeling that I need a digital detox this month. I can so easily fall into the trap of being busy online when I’m really just avoiding feelings I don’t want to deal with. Especially when I’m in re-entry.

I always say that re-entry is a gift…but it doesn’t unwrap itself.

My hunch is that being mostly offline for the rest of the month will help me continue to unwrap this current re-entry and learn what I need to learn. We’ll see how it goes!

Have you taken a digital sabbatical? How did it go? Any tips to share?

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About the Author: Dr. Cate Brubaker

Dr. Cate Brubaker is on a mission to make re-entry after living abroad a positive, transformational force (even when it’s not easy…especially when it’s not easy)! Cate is the author of the Re-Entry Roadmap workbook and the Study Abroad Re-entry Toolkit. Cate has lived in Germany, worked and traveled in 37 countries on four continents, and has helped all kinds of globetrotters successfully navigate global transitions for over 20 years.

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