‘U’ is for Unplugging: A-Z of Simple Living

#unplug #simpleliving #simplify

{via MattStevensCLT on Flickr}

“The average person [in 1999] received more information on a daily basis, than the average person received in a lifetime in 1900.”

Dr Donald Wetmore — Time Management Expert


In 2013, we are certainly receiving an average amount of information – per day – far greater than anything our ancestors received in a lifetime.

Isn’t that just… nuts?

Is it little wonder we feel stressed? Strained? Overwhelmed?

What we need is more time to ourselves. More time to engage – really engage – with life. More time to just be.

We need to unplug.

Ritually unplugging is so important in living a simpler life, which is why it’s part of the A-Z of Simple Living series.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

Our constantly connected world has so many advantages. We can communicate across vast distances, virtually experience incredible places, learn from masters and discover anything imaginable with a few clicks of a mouse button or swipe of a finger.

But we are also constantly connected. We carry our smartphones in our pockets, using them as cameras, calendars, notebooks and alarm clocks. We feel naked without at least one source of connection – be it an iPad, a smartphone, a laptop or all three.

We forget how to simply be. How to immerse ourselves in whatever is in front of us. How to truly engage in face-to-face conversation, personal connections and true down-time. And we are burning out. We are addicted to this digital connection. We are afraid that if we unplug we will miss out on something.

There is a price to pay for this constant level of connection and it is steep unless we learn to offset it with periods of disconnection.

The Power of the Off Switch

Disconnection from the online world allows us to reconnect or fully connect with the physical world in front of us. Fully connect with our kids, our partner, our family, our friends, our work, our environment, our imagination.

Unplugging sounds like such a simple idea. And it really is.

Only once you start to think about how you spend your down time it becomes apparent that while it is simple, it may not be easy.

Think about it:

How do you like to unwind?

A glass of wine at the end of the day? Reading a book? Flicking through a magazine? Spending time in the garden? Wonderful.

What about reading blogs? Or ebooks? Watching TV while you enjoy that glass of wine? Flicking through a digital version of your magazine? Not to mention Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest?

The second list may be ways you like to relax, but you are still connected. The virtual world is still there, pulling you in 32 opposing directions, tempting you to learn more, see more, know more.

Powering Down – Daily

This involves taking time every day and unplugging from the constantly connected world.

It means unplugging from your:

  • Laptop
  • Email
  • Smartphone
  • TV

Switch them all off and do something in the physical world.

You could try:

  • Sitting quietly
  • Reading
  • Walking
  • Playing with your kids
  • Writing
  • Talking with your partner or spouse
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Simple stretching exercises
  • Sipping a coffee outside, watching the sky, hearing the birds.

The important thing is that you connect with the real world, or allow your mind to access a different virtual one – the world of your imagination.


If You’re Having Trouble Unplugging…

If it’s proving difficult to find time for this ritual, you could try the following:

  • Try unplugging on the bus or train on your way to and from work
  • Get up earlier and enjoy the early morning quiet without plugging in to your computer or phone – the emails can wait fifteen minutes
  • Leave for the gym 15 minutes earlier and find a quiet spot to sit
  • Watch one less television show at night. Or DVR it and come back to it later
  • Make a real effort to cut back on social media – I’m looking at you, Facebook and Twitter. They eat up so much of our time. Cut it in half and use that time to be fully in the offline world. How many Twitter updates do you really need to scroll through anyway?

However you choose to do it, make it a priority to get down time each and every day.

Do you have daily disconnected time? Do you feel more calm or more anxious? More engaged or more disconnected? More content or more dissatisfied? I know which I feel, but I want to hear from you…


The A-Z of Simple Living is a weekly series to inspire and motivate – regardless of how far into the simple living journey you are. You can find all posts in the series right here.
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7 Responses to ‘U’ is for Unplugging: A-Z of Simple Living

  1. Linda says:

    I’ve been noticing more and more recently that at any one time in the morning, I have my laptop and tv on at the same time, I’m reading my emails, blogroll and watching the news and eating breakfast. It sounds ridiculous just saying it. I made it a weekly ritual to unplug, but that only lasted a couple months, until my desire to write took over. I have little time for that these days, so I have to use whatever I can. However, I know that my time plugged in is very rarely productive. So perhaps I could unplug and then make the important work a priority. I know unplugging makes me feel better and less stressed, yet I don’t observe it and listen to it. Thanks for the reminder to do just that; unplug! :)

  2. Karen says:

    I have no problem with the idea of unplugging – in fact, I’m all for it – but I don’t necessarily agree with your inclusion of ebooks in the list of things to unplug from. I can see that if you read ebooks on a tablet/ipad or a computer then yes, you can be easily distracted and it’s not much better than surfing the net but I have a regular, non-tablet e-ink reader that I use every day and I don’t really see that it’s any different from reading a normal book. I turn it on, click onto my book cover to open the book, read as much as I want to and then turn it off. No distractions, no backlit screen, just enjoying reading but in a slightly different format.

  3. Steve says:

    A lovely post Brooke – thank you. Unplugging from this ‘digital’, 24/7, instant access, now now now world is important for me too. And, like you suggest in your post, I started small by switching from using my smart phone on the bus ride to work every day (to catch up on emails etc.) to reading (a physical book). The result is that I arrive at work in a much clearer, relaxed space and I get to read many more books each month! Steve

  4. Mairi Stones says:

    I’ve just come back forma day of meditation and yoga and what am I doing? Plugging in, thanks I’m turnig it off again now. X

  5. I have two times when I “relax”. At 3:00 most afternoons, I sit down with a coke and my Kindle and read for about half an hour. It recharges me for the last half of the day.

    Then at 8:30 or 9:00, my husband and I sit down in the living room. We do watch tv but tv is actually how he relaxes. He watches and I quilt while I watch. It works for us.

  6. I really resonate with this post. My husband and I are going for unplugged Sundays which we are finding really hard but also so very very important. Im sure we could both glue our phones to our hands on some days and it really does take its toll.
    I also wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. You can go to my blog and see what this means at http://bookgirloz.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/very-inspiring-blogger-award-nomination-yeehah/. I have been reading your blog for a while and have tried to implement some of the many wonderful ideas for simplifying our busy life with two little ones. Thanks again, Erin

  7. kiki says:

    Where can i find the V in simple living A-Z?

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