When was the last time you completely unplugged (and did it consciously, rather than having a panic attack about a discharged phone)? Sometimes we need to stop, so that we can finish the unfinished, think, make plans for the next year, be creative or simply be present with people we love. However, in the modern world not being connected has become a big luxury. Christmas break is a great legitimate time to allow your brain to have some rest from the excessive stimulation that online brings to our lives and process all information you’ve been feeding your brain with over the past months.
Here’s what to do to make your low-tech holidays successful, guilt-free and not suffer from the fear of missing out:
1. Have Fun and Get Physical
When on holidays, you suddenly have much more free time than usual, so make sure you know how you want to spend it. Plan and do as many fun and unusual things as you can, desirably with people you love.
Our brain releases dopamine, the hormone of pleasure, when we discover new interesting things and gain social recognition. If your life and/or your holidays are boring, you will feel an urge to get your dopamine injection by posting some status update on social media, craving for likes. Make sure you’re happy and you won’t spend so much time online.
Also, dopamine gets released through any physical exercise (together with endorphins that instantly boost your mood), so the more time you spend on holidays exercising, the less tempted you’ll feel to go online.
2. Go Basic
Replace your smartphone with a basic phone with no internet. It won’t be scary as it’s only for a few days. If you can’t help taking pictures, bring along a separate camera or (less desirable) take your smartphone with you, but put the sim-card in your simple phone, so that you only use your smartphone as a camera.
You will feel far less tempted to go online if you don’t have a device with you.
Are you a true ninja? Go phone-free for the whole Christmas break! But remember to leave an autoresponder and a phone of the next of kin for any emergency situations, otherwise you may end up worried about the others most of the time.
3. Be Prepared and Organized
Staying low tech means you will need to get more organized. Make sure to print out all your tickets, hotel bookings, train schedule, local maps and things to do, write down all phones you can possibly need incl. emergency, local taxis.
Put an autoresponder on your email saying you will not be picking up messages and asking people to email you back with the same email after the XX.XX.XXXX if it’s important (this way, you will save yourself from browsing through thousands of emails upon your return).
4. Plan Your Communication
Agree on specific timing of catching up with your close ones. If they are not around and you are waiting to hear from them, agree that you can be reached for instance, twice a day between 9 and 10 in the morning and in the evening.
This way, you’ll make sure that they know you are ok and you are still social, without being distracted by other things. The same is valid for any work-related commitments – if you are still planning to work, tell your bosses/clients that you can be reached during a certain time interval only.
5. Segment Incoming Information
If you still need to be in touch, you can create a temporary email filter, so that you only get emails into your inbox from people you are expecting to hear from. Or you can set up an sms notification, so that when an important email from your boss arrives which you need to respond instantly, you get a text message on your phone.
Have a Merry low-tech Christmas and make the most exciting plans for 2016!
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Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.