Tips, tools, tricks for life unplugged

On a more practical, and less preachy, note, I wanted to share a list of tips, tools, and tricks I have used in the past and still use to unplug, disconnect, and spend more time offline. It is by no means an exhaustive list, and it might not be for everyone, everywhere, at all times, but it is what has worked for me, and I hope you find if some of it useful.

  • Turn (almost all) notifications off. No buzz, beep, bloop sounds around here. Once I realized I am not that important and nobody would die because I missed their call or text, the burden lifted and I keep notifications to a minimum.
  • Speaking of not being that important, just because I can be reached 24/7/365, does not mean I have to be reached 24/7/365. If I miss your call, I will call back. Texts can wait too. It’s a good mentality shift that helps me create a space between my phone and I.
  • Quitting social media: The global average for time spent on social media as of July 2022 is 2 hours and 29 minutes. I spent way more than 2.5 hours a day on Twitter back when I was a fein for the dopamine rush of hashtags, retweets, and likes. Though the hardest, deleting social media is the simplest trick that works the best to minimize time spent online.
  • Repeat after me: I do not need social media to be social. It just takes more effort. Beg if you have to, but make plans to spend time together with the people in your life, make your best effort to meet new people and keep in touch, and commit to being social in the real world even when it’s tempting to stay in liking photos and typing compliments.
  • SelfControl: If I could kiss an app, I would kiss this one.
  • Speaking of apps, I am a proud appist: I hate apps. Anything requiring me to download an app, I hate the thing itself too. Take your points, free coffee, and whatever convenience your app promises, and shove it right up. If it is for important things, I try to get away with alternatives and accommodations, and if I must download an app, I will delete is as soon as I’m done with it.
  • Using pen and paper as much as possible. In my third-year of college, I broke my laptop. While frantically trying to gather the funds for a new one, I bought a notebook to take notes in class. Without the distraction of the world wide web, my full attention went to the lecture, and what do you know, I found out my brain actually works, I absolutely loved learning, and consequently my grades went up. I never looked back. In 2020, I switched from online journaling to a notebook, and although the journals are stacking up, it is so much fun to put pen to paper. I use bullet journaling for planning. Handwriting still rules, and it’s a good excuse to spend time away from the devices.
  • Becoming a fitness junkie to avoid digital junk: If I can commit to one thing in this lifetime, it is going to a fitness class. I have built this habit by asking myself one simple question: If I don’t go workout right now, what would I be doing instead? The answer is always so painfully obvious- get lost in digital junk to ignore the tiny voice of regret while trying to pass the time- that I would just get up and go. It’s always a good time; Sweat a lil, stretch a lil, see some friendly faces- what is there not to like?
  • Speaking of becoming a junkie, self-medicate with (offline) art. A really good book can wrap you up in its warm embrace and make you feel all is right with you; all is right with the world. What’s your choice of art-drug?
  • Laugh or log off: If I’m not having a good time online, I log off. Given the rage-inducing nature of most popular online spaces, it is easier than ever to stay logged off.
  • DF Tube (Distraction Free for YouTube™): One, it blocks the comment section, and less opinion in a nauseatingly opinionated world is always a good thing. Two, without the algorithm telling you what to watch next, you have to make a conscious decision yourself. In the midst of considering what to watch next, it comes to you how kind of bored you are with most of the stuff anyway, and decide to do some gardening or call your mom. Both are better alternatives.
  • While we are on the topic, TURN AUTOPLAY OFF. Dear algorithm, no, you do not get to tell me what I do next, I tell me what I do next, capisce? I am the boss of me, not you.
  • Downgrade, or remove your data plan. I miss not having data on my phone because it seriously ruled. But that was when I was a college student and the only place I needed to be was on campus; everything was there. I had to grow up and need GPS to get around. If you don’t want to completely give up your data, minimize your data plan for what is essential, like messaging apps, GPS, etc.

Until next time,

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  1. Nance Carney Avatar
    Nance Carney

    This is so helpful! I really hate that everything and everyone seems to have an app associated with it, and as a parent, sometimes that is the only option to communicate with a child’s team or after school activity. Super annoying.

    What if you’re entire work life is online? Do you block specific websites to keep yourself on track, to keep yourself from wandering off to ease boredom? When I feel myself wandering to a “non-work” website I tend to now physically get up and wander the building.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mehret Biruk Avatar
      Mehret Biruk

      I love the idea of physically getting up and walking away from the screen! I think that’s a good way to have some balance at work when we can’t really totally unplug.


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