This was the agreement: 3 days. No email. No social media. Social media I could handle. Email would be tough.

Relatively speaking, I am not always plugged in – but I am connected quite a bit. While I am not the person who obsessively Tweets during all events, I do check my email chronically. I hate having more than a few (5-7) emails in my inbox and won’t move them to the trash or a folder until I’ve addressed them. I have school, work, professional development, volunteer, personal business and other emails coming in all the time so perhaps it’s understandable why I feel the need to remain plugged in.

I’ve made some steps in the past. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone and only check the site using the web browser. I activated the “Do Not Disturb” feature on my phone so that it doesn’t ring or send alerts between the hours of 10pm and 8am. And although my work emails are still synced to my phone, I removed the alerts altogether. But there was and is still work to be done.

This weekend I removed the alerts for all emails. This means that when I picked up my phone, I wouldn’t see the number of emails waiting for a response nor would I see an alert when my phone was in locked mode. At the start of the weekend I felt nervous. I was waiting on an updated draft of my company logo and needed to provide a timely response. What if some other important email came through that required my immediate attention? What if I missed an opportunity that was only offered within a limited time frame?

Once I was able to relax, I found myself much more present during our weekend away. I enjoyed the drive/ride and spent my downtime and reading and journaling instead of responding to email or strolling through social media sites. Of course, there were no emails that came through – or hardly ever come through – that warranted my immediate attention. I didn’t miss any miraculous “you must reply now” opportunities and social media was still social media … nothing new, missed or all that exciting. I came back a bit anxious to log on, but knowing that I need to practice this exercise again and more often.

I now have an “Unplug” alarm set on my phone. While this is not easy to maintain during the semester, there is absolutely no reason that I can’t do this during the summer. Starting with this weekend and moving forward, I am spending a little less time plugged in to the virtual world and a lot more time plugged in to my REAL world ;-).