Do You Unplug

I’m working on unplugging during my six weeks off. I’m doing a decent job but I am not totally unplugged and it is possible that I won’t totally unplug.

I saw this chart in the WSJ (via Twitter) this morning:


So almost half of us don’t ever unplug.

Do you, and if so, how often?

#life lessons#Uncategorized

Comments (Archived):

  1. Nicholas Bagg

    I try for Saturday – doesn’t always work!

  2. Ran Moshe

    Every week from Friday evening to Saturday night – on the Jewish Sabbath. Thank God for that! (excuse the pun)

    1. Aaron Taylor

      Religious Jew here as well. There’s nothing more refreshing than 25 hours completely unplugged. But I must admit that it doesn’t take very long for the devices to be back on afterwards.

      1. ShanaC

        as a kofer b’ikkar, i don’t miss shabbat, but I do miss unplugging.

  3. William Mougayar

    “Do You Unplug”? That’s what my wife keeps asking me.I haven’t been able to give a straight answer yet. I’m doomed.

    1. Steven Kuyan

      When you figure it out, let me know. I’ve been trying to come up with a straight answer for years.

      1. William Mougayar

        Ha. Welcome to the club.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      I’m with Arnold, it’s not about being plugged in or unplugged, it’s about who you are and what’s happening to you. (Well he didn’t say all that.) And some people may not need to unplug to get to that centered place. Although I imagine that most of us do to some extent.If you can keep your head while everyone else is plugging in and losing theirs…Where’s Kipling when we need him?

      1. William Mougayar

        ha. yes, the answer is being good at multi-tasking πŸ™‚

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      A possible straight answer ?Being unplugged could come at the risk of also becoming unhinged!I love you sweetheart so it’s your call?

  4. Manuel Molina

    unplug and recharge is a must– it’s called sleep. i do that every day, but i never unplug from the life i chose. it’s too short.

  5. Kristjanfreyr

    Do mountain hikes for unplugging – you literally can’t use the devices, highly recommend it.Also to sneak in one off-topic question – I am missing the “voice bunny” recordings you used to have for the AVC blog. I personally am more of a “blogpost podcast” subscriber, then pure reader, and noticed I haven’t been getting any AVC posts lately. Out of curiosity, is this something you plan on getting back or perhaps to expensive and few listeners?

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      A walk in the back garden will work just as well – so long as its in the right place πŸ™‚

      1. William Mougayar


      2. JimHirshfield

        Dang, who mows your lawn?

      3. ShanaC

        where is that, I want to visit

    2. Matt Zagaja

      Last summer I hiked Mt. Chocorua in New Hampshire. Cell service worked throughout. Halfway up the mountain my friend Skyped with another friend of his who was in a bar in Vietnam. At the summit I only had EDGE service so I was able to tweet some text but not a picture.Overall I think it added more to the experience than it subtracted. We didn’t spend most of the time on the devices, but when we were taking breaks it was fun.

  6. William Mougayar

    Fred- if you really want to unplug, I think you should consider not even blogging for 6 weeks, or maybe 4 of these 6 weeks. Really. If you feel the urge, Tweet and write tips on Foursquare.Put a “Gone fishing” or “Unplugged” notice, and point users to GG’s blog, and that will give the message. [Side benefit: it will also help my productivity.]Maybe we all need a break. It’s not entirely fair you’re giving yourself a sabbatical, but not for your commenters πŸ™‚

    1. Steven Kuyan

      Think its a great idea, if you unplug, really unplug.I would be interested in spending the next 6 weeks of the blog on randomized old posts from the years to revisit how the discussions changed on the topics.

      1. William Mougayar

        I think Fred has written about 4,000 posts over the last 11 years. That’s a lot of content!

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      I honestly think there’s a universe of difference between unplugging — which to me is refraining from reading email, surfing the internet, scanning Twitter, etc. — and not writing.If Fred was writing in a daily written journal that he carried around in his pocket and showed to anyone who asked to see it, would we urge him to give that up for six weeks?Maybe I just selfishly don’t want him to stop writing even for six weeks πŸ™‚ But, I think this blog is his art, and in my opinion doing art doesn’t drain the soul. It feeds it.

    3. LE

      Fred- if you really want to unplug, I think you should consider not even blogging for 6 weeks, or maybe 4 of these 6 weeks. Really. If you feel the urge, Tweet and write tips on Foursquare.I don’t think it’s a wise idea for Fred to do this.After all he spent years building up the blog. Readers going to a blog is a habit. If that habit is broken part of the audience will go elsewhere (that he spent years building up). I don’t go to Techcrunch anymore and I don’t go to that much anymore because other things (that I had forked to for various reasons) have my attention. And I only have so much attention to go around.If you believe that Fred gets benefit (he has called the blog his secret weapon) then it would be foolish to not blog for any period of time. I feel very strongly about this.Maybe we all need a break. It’s not entirely fair you’re giving yourself a sabbatical, but not for your commenters :)People are creatures of habit. Starbucks doesn’t even close stores they are remodeling (from what I am told by a local manager). They fear that someone will find an alternative and then stick with that alternative. Not everybody of course obviously but enough people to impact their bottom line. That’s the way human nature and business is.

  7. leigh

    The only time i’m able to unplug is when we go to an island we have 6 hrs north of toronto where you have to stand on a rock in a certain position to get cell phone reception and only have generator power. I love it. I read a lot. But more than 5 days, well, that gets me too anxious. But the five days? Magic.

    1. William Mougayar

      You own an island up there?

      1. JimHirshfield

        By “we”, I think she meant Canada.

        1. William Mougayar

          Canada has 3 million lakes (60% of the world’s), and tens of thousands of islands πŸ™‚

      2. leigh

        ha it sounds more glamorous than it is – Peter bought it with his BF (who is a stone mason) for less than a Chevy Truck a long time ago. We have been fixing it up for years. Slowly but surely. In between Sudbury and Timmons but our closest neighbour is km’s away. Great fishing too πŸ˜‰

        1. William Mougayar

          Nice. Any pics?

          1. leigh

            lots of pics — but i can’t get any of them to work (they keep saying the photos are too big but they are under the file size argh!) Next time i see you remind me — Peter’s been working on a second cabin and it’s made out of all the old logs and it’s very cool.

    2. Salt Shaker

      I live in NYC but a few years back I went backcountry camping for 10 days w/ my two brothers in Algonquin Provincial Park 300 km north of Toronto. (Totally unplugged, and not by choice.) Perhaps your “island” is near? Algonquin Park is so beautiful and majestic. The camping is quite rustic. We were very, very deep into the park, which is the size of Delaware, and encountered far more bears than people. Most kept to themselves, the bears that is, except for the last night, which was a bit hairy. The only time I wish I was plugged-in πŸ™‚

      1. leigh

        My hubbie used to own a place in Algonquin but it was drive in (and you don’t own the land there you lease it). This is further North and water access surrounded by crown land (meaning gov’t owned) — actually North of the Arctic Watershed….but also really beautiful (i love Algonquin and Killarney – one feels very close to mother nature for sure)

    3. JLM

      .I hold the world record for bathing–on a Canadian island north of International Falls.Dove in. Swam to a rock. Stood up on the rock. Lathered in 14 seconds. Down back in. Swam to shore. Total elapsed time 30 seconds.My anatomy recovered by the next Spring. Could etch glass with my nipples.Cold.JLM.

  8. Ken Greenwood

    Well said, William. One has to really want to unplug to make it happen.As for me, I can get a few days a year, maybe a few during a week+ vacation and a weekend day here and there. Again, just have to want to.

  9. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I tend to do it in batches – I need a sabbatical period every now and then and go offline for a week or so – am about due another such break but they set their own schedule!Prompted by Om’s recent blog on such matters I blogged about this a few days ago ……It’s clear such addictive ‘bad habits’ are nothing new.I must say I do value this ubiquity of being online – along with others in any TZ – when at 4am I’m exhausted and on a coffee break and simply wish to connect to the outside world for a few mins; by about 2am my bar is usually empty and I’m in midst of clearing-up – it is nice to know I can reach-out, if I feel the need at such times…

  10. James Ferguson @kWIQly

    Mealtimes with my wife – Some areas in life should be competition free zones.

  11. JamesHRH

    No. Would go away w Michele & unplug , but kids are 9&12.Don’t really want to either. Most of us are not as plugged in as you.

  12. William Mougayar

    You can choose:

    1. Richard

      Unplugging is easy with an Iphone. Just leave the house ( without your charger), wait 3 hrs and, presto, you are unplugged.

      1. awaldstein

        All good if you have a business that is exempt for fire drills and employees who can make decisions.

        1. LE

          and employees who can make decisionsIf you are running a small business that is quite difficult and nearly impossible. In other words good luck with that one.You work hard to gain a new customer. It’s easy to loose a customer as well. Other guy who isn’t off is willing to take the call and help out.I made a phone call last week to the HVAC company that I use (small operation). I got the answering service. It was a Friday. On Monday in the AM I get a call from the owner apologizing and giving me a (likely) bs reason why he didn’t get the call. Luckily (for him) it wasn’t an emergency. If it was, and I didn’t hear back, (in what I thought was quick enough response) I would have called someone else. Then that person would have become my vendor of choice. And possible the vendor of choice for the entire condo complex that I am on the board of.I built my first business just by being responsive and getting the quote to the customer quicker and following up. All along having higher prices (yes higher) and lower quality (yes lower quality) than the competition. What people cared about was when they called for a quote they got the quote and we got the job done. And we made it easy for them.

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        iBattz iPhone case with replaceable battery an you’re good all day.Plain or battle hardened case styles. Mojo Refuel Armor Battery Case Mojo Refuel Battery CaseI just love this product.I have no commercial connection to this product.

    2. ShanaC

      not so nice :/

  13. Tom Labus

    Pull the plug. Drift around a bit, read and dream.I can do it at the Lake and after a few days or so it starts to feel really good.

    1. John Revay

      Nice drift, read and dream.

    2. Richard

      Lake swimming is, without question, one of the great joys of life.

      1. Tom Labus

        Never gets old. Only sail and canoes in this lake

    3. JLM

      .I can feel myself swimming out to that platform and lying in the sun like a fat dog.Now that looks relaxing.#envyJLM.

      1. Tom Labus

        I cleared out a few geese to make room for you

        1. JLM

          .I could have done that with my shotgun for us both. I love a bit of fatty goose.JLM.

      2. leigh

        I want you to know i’m writing a book and I’m going to steal that expression “lying in the sun like a fat dog” It’s perfect.

        1. JLM

          .Send me a draft. Great reader.JLM

          1. leigh

            at my current pace of 3000 words a week i should be done in 6 months. πŸ™‚

          2. JLM

            .In the last two years, I have written four novels (one burned, one buried and two still alive) and about 40 short stories.I am publishing a series of short stories “The Other End of the Tracers” — when you mark a target with machine gun tracers the inside joke in the military is to remember you are at the “other end of the tracers”.JLM.

          3. leigh

            ok you HAVE to now send me your writing. would love to read (also a huge reader). and i’ve been working on a number of novels for a number of years — the current one i’m working on is the first time i’ve ever done a full outline and it just feels different from the rest. It’s like finishing university for me, tough but i need to just plod through it and make it to through the finish line.

          4. JLM

            .Send me an email address to [email protected] will send you some short stories.JLM.

    4. leigh

      weird i don’t know why my photo didn’t upload…wait i’ll try again (maybe it will be inspired by yours)

      1. Tom Labus

        Very nice

      2. William Mougayar

        Beautiful. (there’s a 3-4 min delay from Disqus til it shows up. i think they prob check for nudity and such)

        1. leigh

          kept telling me the file was too big — dunno, I blame Rogers — I’m sure they are throttling due to Netflix (which was my son was watching at the time of photo upload)

  14. LIAD

    Shabbat can be really magnificent.Even if you just unplug from creating but not consuming.Helps develop calm if you are disciplined about either not using technology or not replying or responding and having to let things wash over you and take their natural course until you re-engage on Saturday night.Q: how do you know when you arrive at a destination?A: you STOP moving.Shabbat is meant to be a weekly destination. Where you stop, think and just be. You can’t do that if your plugged in.

    1. William Mougayar

      I sometimes envy some of my Jewish friends that do this.When they started opening malls and shops on Sunday, that was the beginning of the end for having one day of real rest.In Germany, the German Labor Ministry has banned after hours emails, and some companies like VW stop forwarding emails from their servers to employees, half an hour before the end of the working day.

      1. LE

        When they started opening malls and shops on Sunday, that was the beginning of the end for having one day of real rest.You can only be as honest as your competition. It’s every man for himself.I sometimes envy some of my Jewish friends that do this.Don’t, it’s a screwy system based on shit that happened thousands of years ago. It’s totally confining today. My dad survived a concentration camp and was studying to be a rabbi. He ditched all that stuff when he got to this country. (We were conservative which was about all he would tolerate.)Best move ever: My ex wife married an orthodox guy. So he is shomer shabbas (observant). Being the good salesperson that she is she actually has convinced him to time shift the start of the holiday (either earlier or later) in order to coincide with certain social events that they need to attend or if they have to take a trip. She said “why does it have to start at Sundown why not have it start at X and end at X plus 24?”. And he went for it (not all the time but when there is a special occasion). She was so proud to tell me that. That’s creative problem solving.I’m not a big fan of all that orthodoxy at all. When I would take my daughters out to dinner they couldn’t bring leftovers home. I even suggested I would buy a small refrig for the garage that they could keep the leftovers in. Stepdad nixed that idea.

        1. William Mougayar

          Interesting. I was researching ovens, and didn’t realize so many of them have the Sabbath mode feature.I’m sure I would work less if I was living in Europe, regardless of religious observances.

          1. LE

            so many of them have the Sabbath mode feature.This is actually a derivative to the concept of the “Sabbath Goy”.The SG is a person who works at a synagogue during the sabbath (at least at conservative synagogues that I have attended) that is able to do the labor that is needed. Turn on lights, do work, etc.And note the creative work around with the “sabbath” mode. Because you can’t turn lights on and off but if the light is on from before the sabbath or always on that is ok. So the act of turning on the light is “the work” to be avoided. You didn’t know that was work? Maybe because it’s not work. Maybe it was work at some point. But then again at some point women weren’t treated the way they are now. There are benefits of all of this in keeping the masses in line kind of the point of religion actually when you boil it down.Obviously these are rituals that are followed for the sake of rituals. And maybe are fine (like speed limits) for people who have no self control over their lives and need some external force keeping them from working all the time.

          2. ShanaC

            @wmoug:disqus It’s not, its derivative of a shinui. http://judaism.stackexchang…Shinui pre-exists shabbos goy as a concept, because it has to do with the idea of what a melacha actually legally is, which is a highly misinterpreted concept to begin with(wow, am I showing my orthodox roots here)

          3. LE

            Shana – I’m not seeing that that page supports what you are saying? I don’t doubt that there is something that preceeds what I have said (there is always another root to be discovered).That said I just found this which is interesting:…In certain households and synagogues a particular non-Jew (invariably not a member of the home/synagogue) may be designated as the Shabbos goy for that place. This individual is usually one who would be present regardless of this role, such as a babysitter, a security guard or a synagogue maintenance crew member, and is typically paid for the work. Before the 20th century Shabbos goyim most commonly lit (or re-lit) stoves in Jewish homes in the winter. In the 20th century, Colin Powell, Mario Cuomo, Martin Scorsese, Floyd B. Olson, and the adolescent Elvis Presley assisted their Jewish neighbors in this way

          4. ShanaC

            i did. I have orthodox parents. Life is very complicated when you have orthodox family (and I have a lot of orthodox family, two rabbi cousins, one of which is a mohel)Also, many of the orthodox people I grew up with have huge debt loads…way way bigger than you’d imagine.. *sigh*

          5. LE

            Interesting. They have both extra costs that others don’t have and additionally they can’t work an extra day when they need to (or perhaps they can’t do certain jobs that require travel on the holidays).Or maybe it’s the 10 kids they are trying to support.

          6. awaldstein

            My college roomate and my best friend, many years later, became a Hasidim. After 15 years of being out of touch we reconnected a while back, had no idea he had become religious and met in the park.He’s the same guy, immensely talented and successful and we’ve become even closer. Yup, him and I looking as different as you can be, sharing no religious beliefs, just the best of friendsI’m a believer that people should do what makes them happy.

          7. Salt Shaker

            A “mohel”–So that’s how you spell it. My little brother is 8 yrs younger than I am. The day the Mohel paid him a visit at our family home I thought everyone had gathered for a party. Little did I know. When the man w/ the funny wardrobe “clipped” little Rob I thought for sure I was next and freaked. I bolted out the front door never to be seen for several hours.

      2. LE

        From that article:VW stops forwarding emails to staff from its company servers half an hour after the end of the working day, while other firms have declared that workers are not expected to check email at weekends or in their free time.They do that because it’s the type of business that can. In other industries you wouldn’t be able to pull that off because of your competitors.

        1. William Mougayar

          I wonder why they do that. Maybe management is exempt.

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      I loved using the automated elevators at Hotel David in TA that stopped at each floor so you didn’t need to interact with any machinery on Shabbat πŸ™‚

    3. ShanaC

      heschel wrote a great book about that. time as space….

  15. John Revay

    re: Unplugging1. Our two daughters have gone to a YMCA summer sleep over camp where you can’t bring your phone etc. Two weeks of living off grid.2. Our oldest daughter was a counselor there this year..and she had more leeway..but still generally was quite happy not having her phone turned on….3. I go through spells where I swear off checking my work emails ( nights and weekends) re: it will be there on Monday….

    1. LE

      1. Our two daughters have gone to a YMCA summer sleep over camp where you can’t bring your phone etc. Two weeks of living off grid.The reason for that is that it’s mainly interuptive to the camp experience. If kids have phones they can call their parents. If they call their parents they might tell things to their parents and then they will call the camp and comment or complain. It would be a total mess. Even the counselors that have phones have to go to great lengths to hide the phones from the campers (at the camps that I am familiar with at least). If a camper knows their counselor has a phone they will want to call mommy or daddy from that phone.

  16. Bernard Desarnauts

    There is an incredible pent-up urge to “unplug”.Look at the momentum around Arianna’s latest best seller “Thrive”… Tiffany Shlain (of fame from the webby award founder) and her latest documentary or even the buzz around Soren Gordhamer “Wisdom 2.0” movement/conference – a must attend event for many in the Silicon valley intelligentsia.

  17. Richard

    What’s the definition of unplugged? Is listening to music or reading books unplugged if the music and books are not on your device?

  18. Robert Heiblim

    I cannot say that I unplug, save for in flight or where there is no service. On the other hand, I never look at devices when on a date with my wife, dinner with others, in a meeting or social event. I leave it for others to judge what is appropriate or not, but I find obsessing over devices or communications when with others rude to say the least. I do not think technology is a problem, it is how we use it. Thanks Fred!

    1. Donna Brewington White

      That’s the thing. Being present. And letting someone interrupt a conversation or special moment digitally or electronically is just as rude as doing it in person. Trying to teach my kids that.

  19. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I have a pretty specific concept of what ‘unplugging’ is. I unplug (naturally, not really as a thing I have to make myself do) for a couple of hours every day to engage fully with my kids.Any time I walk somewhere (almost daily), I unplug. I try to never talk on the phone while walking, and I definitely don’t engage in texting while walking. I don’t even listen to music from my phone while walking – I’m very auditory and need to hear the world around me.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      What she said.

  20. awaldstein

    Fred–do what makes you happy.For me, not unplugging but controlling my mania and connecting to work not to wander works.Interesting factoid from an investment–Whole Food employees, at store level managerial level and down, don’t (are not allowed to) do email when not at work. It’s either defined as part of their job or not. Difficult as a vendor but I think, quite smart.

    1. William Mougayar

      Germany is headed that way too, by the look of it.

    2. LE

      Whole Food employees, at store level managerial level and down, don’t (are not allowed to) do email when not at work.It’s not, of course, that they are being nice guys and they care. That’s a strategic play to keep their labor costs down. If people work to much and aren’t compensated “hey here I am busting my ass!” they will in theory want to get paid more. You know like truck drivers wanting to get paid for the “dead head”. So they have calculated that the extra productivity will not exceed the potential cost and impact. It’s that simple. [1]WF has a bunch of contra things that they do to make employees feel special. And to take away the fact that after all is said and done, well, you work in a supermarket stocking shelves. A nice supermarket of course. But it’s still a supermarket.At the local WF here they used to give the parking spots to the employees that were right next to the building. Maybe 20 to 30 spaces. All with a sign that said “reserved for our associates” or something cute like that. I thought that was fucked up. Why in the world would you take spots up next to the building for employees and make your customers park farther away? Customers who turn spaces every 15 to 30 minutes as opposed to an employee who parks there all day. Well low and behold that shit isn’t being done anymore. I guess the kickback from customers got through to WF.[1] I once had a guy working for me whose wife started a small luncheon business. I let him do things for her on my dime. I figured if he didn’t help her (a phone call here, go over to the place every now and then) he would be more likely to hit me up for a raise. So it was a strategic decision based on the particular facts of the employee. If her business made money it would save me money.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      “Controlling my mania”… that’s the issue. But we have to be self-aware enough to recognize when it’s mania. And let’s face it, gaining that type of self-awareness requires disciplines such as silence, solitude, exercise, going unplugged, etc… so that we even recognize when we get to “that place.”

  21. Matt Zagaja

    I guess the closest I get to unplugging is I don’t look at or use my phone during my workouts. I have periods I need to not concentrate on things and generally I am able to do that. I have never felt that there was an advantage to making those periods too long, however.I’ll try to not use my phone at dinner but honestly when we’re talking and really want to know something, it doesn’t feel like an advantage to decide to not Google it because we’re trying a no phone rule.

  22. Hershberg

    The publisher of Michael Harris’s new book, “The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection,” has asked people to take part of what it’s calling, “Analog August.” The idea is to completely unplug for a single weekend in August.Here are some of their suggestions for unplugging:β€’ Alert all of your family members and close friends.β€’ Turn your Wi-Fi/4G off.β€’ Turn on an email out-of-office–and resist the urge to check it!β€’ Log out of all social media.β€’ Re-record your voicemail message (remember those?).β€’ No self-congratulatory Facebook status updates about going offline.β€’ No Instagram photos of your pets, babies, engagement rings, or desserts.β€’ No self-diagnosis of pneumonia or pink eye onβ€’ Take off the weird bracelet that tracks your sleep patterns.β€’ No 36 texts to set up plans with a friend.β€’ Take a hike! Navigate with a paper map.Link to book: on Analog August:

    1. William Mougayar

      That sounds too complicated. I’d rather stay plugged :)It’s like stores that are open 24 hrs. They say it’s cheaper for them to stay open than to close down, and re-open.

    2. Richard

      Narcissism, the pandemic sweeping the nation.

  23. Deb Mills-Scofield

    I have done total unplugging and it was great. I’ve also done partial – e.g., limiting my time when I’m on vacation. I spend 5 weeks in maine during the summer and will tend to do some work in the morning, including social media and then also take a week to unplug. But the fact is I enjoy it so I don’t feel like it’s ‘work’. I will also unplug more from email and less from social media at times —

  24. johnmccarthy

    My 17 year old daughter, recent HS grad, will be doing a gap year with a program in Indonesia. Key benefit, not allowed to bring any electronic device except a non-connected camera. Will be great for her, I’m sure.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      I think that for kids being unplugged has special value. They need to learn to recognize “noise.”

  25. JimHirshfield

    I’m unplugged when I swim. The reception is garbled anyway.

    1. Scott Barnett

      I laughed out loud at your post Jim…. but in all seriousness, I unplug practically every day when I work out – whether it’s a swim, bike, run or otherwise. I don’t bring my phone with me at all. It’s 1-2 hours of complete detachment. I love it and highly recommend it.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Thanks Scott. I use my phone at the gym to keep track of my progress. So, not fully unplugged.

        1. Scott Barnett

          I bought a TomTom MySport Watch so I can track my workouts without my phone.

          1. JimHirshfield

            So…. that’s technically still plugged in. πŸ™‚

  26. JimHirshfield

    I’m on vacation now. So… no.

  27. LE

    This is the original article(s):…Unfortunately it doesn’t clearly define what it means by “unplugging” that I can tell. So to me the results are near meaningless.Separately who is and what was their methodology? I’m surprised this would even get played in the WSJ.Oh, ok here it is:…CivicScience is pioneering a new method of quantitative attitudinal research that captures the opinions of large and broad segments of the population every minute of every day. By engaging respondents in strict, one- to three-question intervals when they visit online sites, we maximize participation and eliminate respondent fatigue. Wow, sounds really rigorous. Nice business idea though. Amazing how easy it is to wrap something in a way that people will actually take it seriously.And if you want to get the white paper describing more about why some academics think this stuff is valid, you have to sign up to get it:http://public.civicscience….

  28. Donna Brewington White

    I unplug for an hour or two or even a few hours on occasion. Whenever I want to be– or need to be– fully present in the moment. Phones aren’t allowed at the dinner table. At restaurants one form of check in and then phones put away.On Sundays I try to be less plugged in and to do as little work, if any, as possible. I read email but don’t respond unless it’s urgent. I don’t consider reading AVC as being plugged in. It’s more like checking in. :)But do I completely unplug for– let’s say– a day or more? Very rarely.Plugging in isn’t just about work. It’s about a world that transcends my immediate surroundings.Lately I have been less plugged in to social media because work and family demands have been consuming. And I am feeling a little lonely for that side of my life and the relationships there. But to everything a season.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      ” I don’t consider reading AVC as being plugged in. It’s more like checking in. :)”Yup!

    2. Paul Tilley

      Agreed. We on this blog spend our workweek ingraining technology into our collective lives (to make it better – Uber, Airbnb, twitter, etc.). But then we talk about ‘unplugging’ ourselves. I have stopped thinking about that per se and instead thought about shifting my ‘plugged’ focus on weekends and vacations. Minimal work focused on (in order)….learning, contemplating, planning for when I return, and emergencies. Those first three are my favorite parts of my job anyway; the parts I almost don’t consider work. But never 100% unplugged. Why would I do that to myself?

    3. JamesHRH

      Unplug, to me, isn’t hours. It’s days.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I would have another name for that. πŸ™‚

  29. Jerry Brito

    Here’s a vacation reading recommendation on the subject of connectedness and unplugging: Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers. It’s the best meditation I’ve seen on ‘finding balance,’ which can be a trite genre.

  30. Mariah Lichtenstern

    Daily and periodically for longer intervals. When I’m on, I go hard, but need #ThinkTime and #debrieftime

  31. LE

    I’m working on unplugging during my six weeks off. I’m doing a decent job but I am not totally unplugged and it is possible that I won’t totally unplug.This is exactly precisely the reason why it’s easy for a new guy to get established.Some older guy becomes successful and doesn’t need the deal as much. Some new guy is working tirelessly to close the deal while the older guy is away for weeks. Or taking it easy with his family.If I was a new younger guy just getting established (in your biz) I’d use the above fact against you! In other words I’d sell to that point. “What happens when you need Fred and he is disconnected? What if he is to busy to offer his advice or a connection that you need?”. The FUD factor (fear uncertainty doubt). It only has to work a few times.Or, if I was a deal flow person and had what I thought was a good lead to send you maybe I’d be less likely to do it knowing that you were away and not really interested in being bothered. “Is this deal really important enough that Fred should need to see it while he is away?”. I’d think twice about it.

  32. LE

    Anyway to answer the question I don’t ever unplug and don’t need to. I enjoy being on top of things. Not unusual if I am on the beach (which is rare) for me to go to the Starbucks and pull out the laptop. When I travel (which isn’t that often) I travel with two laptops (one is a spare) at least two forms of net access. (Tether by both Verizon and AT&T devices as well as whatever is in the hotel).

  33. jason wright

    yes, if i go on a 24 hr bicycle ride.p.s. i never go on 24 hr bicycle rides.

  34. Humberto

    My iPhone is permanently on manual notifications and updates, so that I only get things when I want to.Phone and SMSs are mutted for all but 3 people. I am generally productive!

  35. Jeff Judge

    I go for 3-4 hour bike rides on the weekend and often leave my phone in the kitchen for a few hours. I also removed the Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone on the last week to see how that changed my habits – actually felt really good.

  36. Asiedu

    Once a year when I go the Caribbean and disappear.

  37. jason wright

    when things are in abundance do we value them?being limited to one call, one text, one email, et.c. each day of a break would focus the mind and improve the quality…maybe.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      “Abundant production can only result in mediocrity.” ~ Marcel Duchamp.

      1. jason wright

        :-)facebook, are you reading this?

  38. jason wright

    is telly still regarded as a technology or has it been reassigned to a lesser primordial category of object?i imagine anyone with a telly in their home switches it on every single day when the are in residence.

  39. MFishbein

    I’ve been trying to unplug for at least 24 hours a few times per year. I’ll turn my phone and computer off before going to bed, spend the entire next day and night without them, then turn back on the following morning. I find it incredibly refreshing. The longest I’ve gone was about 3 days and it was great.I highly recommend giving it a try. You don’t realize you need it until you do it. Something surprising will happen when you plug back in: your emails will still be there waiting for you πŸ™‚

  40. Aaron Klein

    My family and I had the best vacation we’ve ever had recently in Hawaii. I did zero work and simply checked in every few hours for urgent messages.Completely unplugging is far more stressful than staying plugged in. It turns out that a happy medium of no work and few checkins is best.

  41. JLM

    .Everything in life is about balance. There is nothing inherently wrong about being plugged in all the time as long as it is in balance and doesn’t steal time from other worthy pursuits.Having said that I must admit I have a absolute revulsion to going to dinner with friends who are constantly checking their cell phones. It is rude and inhospitable. I refuse to go with some folks and others — who I know very, very well — I tell them NO phones.Technology is now getting into our DNA and I say — OK, bring it.JLM.

    1. LE

      It is rude and inhospitable.Agree with that. Along those lines there are all sorts of things like that that can be rude and it’s amazing that people can’t see it for what it is. Perhaps people should use, as I mentioned the other day, “the Governors” example (putting in the place of your guest somebody generally considered important.) If you were out to dinner with the governor would you check your phone? And if you did, you’d probably apologize for doing so for sure. “Wow sorry my mom is in the hospital”. Or if you were out to lunch for a job interview would you do that? Or pitching Fred Wilson?I had a date years ago (was maybe the 2nd date) and when we arrived at the restaurant and were getting seated she saw someone that she knew. She then disappeared for what seemed like 15 minutes (and was probably about 6 minutes) and it immediately killed the evening. To me anyway.Had another case where I traveled 1.5 hours to have dinner at a friends house with my then fiance. He decided to invite some guy that he was friends with that lived in the building. I thought that was rude. I mean I didn’t travel here to be with your friend (who you can see anytime) and quite frankly I don’t really care to meet him either. [1][1] I realize all of this is different to different people and depends on circumstances. I’m sure there are people that might disagree with me (or with you). For example my ex fiance, a very social person, didn’t agree with me. Turns out we had many things that we differed on. We ended up breaking up. Luckily.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      “Technology is now getting into our DNA”That of course is literally true !That DNA meddling is just not yet specifically targeted at making us better cyborg interface units. I’m a little more gun shy about that “OK, bring it” part ?

    3. PhilipSugar

      We are very similar. My belief is there are so many people that are me-me that they can’t even understand what their actions are saying. They should have to say what their actions mean out loud.Why does it matter if I check emails while my wife is taking a very leisurely time getting ready? What am I saying to her? I am saying you love taking a long time getting ready and instead of being impatient I am going to do some work which is part of me.What am I saying if I check my emails during that dinner she was getting ready for?? You really aren’t the most important person to me. A random person emailing me is more interesting right now.I was on vacation this week (first in way, way, to long). Send me an email riffing about a particular point of view??? Well to me that is more interesting than looking at some book. Tell me you expect an immediate response???? I am going to tell you my vacation might just be a bunch longer.And if I am waiting in a long line for Cake Boss which I could care less about and believe could be way more efficient?? I am telling you I love you and if you want to spend time looking at what the heck a lobster tail is good for you but I really don’t care. But when we get into the store, I am there for the moment.Its not just technology, its behavior. If you are always late, what are you saying?? “My time is worth more than yours. Too fucking bad.” Hey if that’s the way it is and they way you feel, why not just say it. Nothing wrong with that. It’s true. If you are the General and I am the Sargent, guess what it is true.

    4. awaldstein

      Attention is our greatest currency. It’s a poor meeting or dinner or conversation when its not given on both sides.I never look at my phone during meetings. My attention is what I contribute, I charge for it and I like to overdeliver.

      1. PhilipSugar

        A great thing one can learn from Europe is the pace and style of meals.How did this get lost here?There was an article that was linked here that said you are only productive for two hours a day. I agree in saying that actually producing real work and thought that is true.But you hit the nail on the head which is your attention is what you contribute, that is you being productive.

  42. vruz

    Once a year, or once every two years, in the last ten.

  43. pointsnfigures

    Brad Feld has written about a digital sabbath. He likes it. I have not. When I go to northern MN, we don’t really have electricity, or cell/internet access unless we go to town. So, we sort of unplug. I am in Africa this Christmas/New Year’s, and I figure there won’t be reliable service in the bush.

  44. Semil Shah

    I rarely unplug. At most a day. Part of it is driven by habit, part of it is that I’ve been kind of flailing for a while and not sure tomorrow will be there, so I stay in the game for fear of slipping a bit. One day, I hope to unplug at a least a bit more consistently.

    1. Kathie Tanner

      πŸ™‚ Interesting..

  45. rossdborden

    Once a year. Burning Man. One full week unplugged not only from technology but cars, money…modern life!

  46. ShanaC

    Not often enough

  47. SubstrateUndertow

    New Apps, new more intelligent filters, will all give way to new patters/ratios of connection value.These are all new toys. The true value associated with differing patterns/priorities of social/commercial/political connectedness/synchronicity are yet to settle out so maybe now is the time to just keep walking until these new technology-shoes get warn in ?

  48. PhilipSugar

    You need to unplug often each day. If you do that, no need to unplug for a long period of time.

  49. Tereza

    Missed this post. Was unplugged!

  50. John

    I unplug every day for periods of time. I’ve been on vacations where I was forced to be “unplugged” the entire time and I hated the experience. I think the idea of an unplugged vacation is for someone who has no will power to unplug themselves, or they have a job where the only way they’re allowed to unplug is if they physically aren’t able to plug in. Unfortunately, this describes much of the world. I personally enjoy being plugged in and have created a work environment that doesn’t require that I do something. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to do something on vacation when I do plug in.

  51. Trey

    Vacation Rule: Only music posts on the blog while you are away.

  52. Susanne Menge

    I’ve been following you for at least 3 days so I feel no right to comment! But, this is a juicy one, so I will….. In my experience it’s not about unplugging or not. It’s why we are doing it or why we are not willing/able to. Is the technology supporting our journey into new lands or tethering us to the known? You will know what is right for you! Have fun with it!

    1. fredwilson

      First comment? If so, welcome!

      1. Susanne Menge

        Yes, cheers!! Thank you!

  53. markslater

    not a reality for me. For us out there putting your money to work trying to build something….there can’t be any let up. Fit in 3 or 4 days here or there but other than that…..

  54. Ana Milicevic

    For me it’s not so much about staying away from technology altogether as it is about creating time to think and focus on other things. I’m very careful not to get into long work-related email threads on evenings and weekends (which is no small feat when your work permeates your life). Holidays are also sacred and bring with them a change of habit: I try not to read the things I usually read (online or otherwise), shake up my book queue, catch a few films and recharge.

  55. daryn

    I rarely “unplug” for more than a day or two (especially using that super-broad definition), as using devices and being connected provides a lot of the enjoyment and relaxation in my life.That said, I do try and ignore work issues, and on our last trip I even deleted my work email account from my phone until I got back so I wouldn’t be tempted.

  56. Boss Hogg

    I don’t unplug. If you’re using AC power, you aren’t really unplugged anyway.

  57. Brendan Flynn

    I recently took 5 weeks off in between jobs and I would go days without using a computer or phone. I enjoyed it so much I have instituted my own “1989 day” – once a week. That is, just like in 1989, no phone. It was hard the first time but now I actually look forward to it. I hate being tethered to technology.

  58. Emily Merkle

    I never unplug.

  59. Carl Rahn Griffith

    An old manager of mine always said “There’s no such thing as an urgent email – if it’s urgent, phone me.”

  60. LE

    Prediction: I will get no email, tweet, FB message, or text that requires a response in the next 24 hours.Prediction: I will check for messages a few times an hour.Disposing of something in real time as it comes in is not as efficient as doing replies in batch I have found.But the truth is some things need to be handled right away. Especially if you are in sales or in some type of selling situation. You have to strike while the iron is hot. When people are in a manic phase they are more likely to sign on the bottom line and you are more likely to close a sale. As only one example.

  61. jason wright

    i wish my email accounts had auto reply setting options such as ‘i got you email. i will not respond for at least (choose a number here) working days.’

  62. LE

    The paper trail created and memorialization of pertinent facts is much better with an email.

  63. LE

    Text messaging doesn’t queue as well either. It’s hard to keep track of a text that you need to reply to (that you didn’t reply to) and it is almost always more interuptive than an email. And a pain to type on a small keyboard. Better than a phone call which tends to have so much nicety overhead (which really annoys me). Having caller id is pretty good though at least when the call comes in you can shoot the gap with your thoughts and launch right into them without wasting time on “how are you doing”.

  64. jason wright

    in truth i never use auto reply. i just agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment that senders should not expect an immediate response just because it’s a fingertip technology. i need to think god damn it! πŸ™‚