Finding Quiet

Before leaving on holiday, I decided to go low tech: no cell phone, no GPS, no computer. I allowed myself my iPod for long drives and an occasional internet connection via my airplane-mode-only cell phone, just to call my parents regularly so they knew I was still alive (sometimes you have to let parents win the argument). Otherwise, both devices were off.

The first time I checked emails was the hardest. There was a small mountain of them, including a few from my job, which I did need to deal with. I promised myself to only respond to the most important ones and leave the rest for after returning home.

I also forgot that without a cell phone, I had no clock. There was no way for me to know what time it was, and really I never had to be anywhere. I had no set schedule. So I rose with the sun and ate whenever I was hungry. I wandered down streets in the cities, sat in beautiful places for as long as my own spirit compelled me to, lingered over tea, and wrote like there was fire in my hands.

It’s a good thing, to go low-tech for a bit of time. It reminds you how wonderful technology is — and more importantly, how vast and expansive time feels without it. Here are the rules I wrote for myself:

Tips for a Digital Sabbatical

1. Decide on a time frame. Pick a date to start and stop. Having that end date in mind can help you really take advantage of the time you have. It could be for a day, for a holiday, for longer…

2. Set an autoresponder message. Let people know when your hiatus will end and how to get in touch with you if it’s absolutely necessary.

3. Leave the electronics behind. Ideally, don’t even tempt yourself. You might need to bring a phone on vacation, but when you go out, consider leaving it wherever you’re staying.

4. Smile and say hello to people. You may feel a bit naked at first, not being able to busy yourself with texts or emails or the internet. People know you can hear them if you don’t have headphones on. We so often use our technology to put up walls; let them crumble down for a bit. Amazing things happen when they do.

Would you ever take a digital sabbatical? If you have, what was the best lesson you learned?

{photo by me of East Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland}

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.