How to Take a Digital Break

Even when you don’t have a Kit Kat in sight, breaks are good for every soul. Especially the digital kind.

I was a bit quiet here last month, and for good reason. Holidays, heat, and a pregnancy that’s kicking my butt made me one less than chipper mama-to-be. And I’m okay with that. I’m a huge believer that digital breaks are good for your soul, and that more breaks, more often, would do wonders for productivity, happiness and health.

But a good break shouldn’t be a disappearing act. Here are a few key tips on break-taking inspired from my new book, Greater Expectations: Succeed (and Stay Sane) in an On-Demand, All-Access, Always-On Age, that you’ll want to employ – at any time of year.

(Also, you can sign up to win a copy of the book here.)

Decide What Kind of Break It Will Be

The first key step in any break taking is figuring out what you’re taking a break from. A break from sugar? A break from social media? A break from the Internet at large? Define what the break is in specific terms. Then, go a step further and write that down on a post-it note (or in lipstick on your bathroom mirror) just so you won’t be confused. When I took a 12-day digital detox last year, I did just that, filling my journal with constant reminders of what I was doing a la “You are on a complete digital detox, Claire. Remember!”

Alert the Important Folks

There are folks that just might need to know when you’re stepping out of life for a little while. Friends and family that might wonder why you’re not responding at once to every long cat pic they send? A client you’re working with on a project due after your break will end? An assistant who will need to help out just a bit more while you’re away? All these people need to be in the loop — and doing so beforehand (and then reiterating with an out of office response message that conveys clear information on when you’ll be back and how to deal with their issues while you’re gone) are essential.

Uphold Your Break Boundaries 

Boundaries are always tough, and your break boundaries are just as challenging. Even on a social media break, say, you might wake up one morning with an insatiable itch to scroll Facebook for the teams of babies born in your network over the past week. Don’t do it. (Or think twice, at least!) A break is a break is a break, and if you’ve decided to take one, keep your boundaries in place.

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 2.26.14 PMSo, are you ready to take a digital break? If not now, then is it something you can commit to doing at some point in 2014?

Want to read more on this topic? 

My new book, Greater Expectations: Succeed (and Stay Sane), in an On-Demand, All-Access, Always-On Age, came out this week. It’s a tactical tome sharing information, statistics and stories about what digital overwhelm means in our modern life, and a primer for getting you to keep said overwhelm at bay. Check it out here. 


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11 thoughts on “How to Take a Digital Break

  1. Pingback: Glen Writes
  2. This is good, Claire. I’ve just had a month (mostly) offline and instinctually did much of what you’ve outlined here. I’ve returned to my work much more refreshed and less prone to ‘digital drifting’ through my day, aimlessly checking, flicking and surfing.

  3. I have decided to take a break from email for 24 hours every weekend – from 6 pm on Saturday night until 6 pm on Sunday night. My e-mail signature alerts people to the fact that I will not read or respond to their messages if they e-mail me during that time.

    I also turned off all e-mail alerts on my computer and my iPhone. That way, the constant “bing” or “You’ve got mail” won’t distract me from any work I might actually be doing at the time.

  4. 12 days is a long time. But I see the tremendous value. I’m going to practice it. Soon. Ha. I’m a Librarian number one and 12 days form no internet or journalism (I AM losing my addiction to the daily News- Blues , thank Buddha! That media chit is meant to be depressing and program us by our uglies on the planet: the Illuminati. . . . )