Here they come: Unplugged30 Rules!

January 31, 2016
YES!  I’m pumped.  And it sounds like a bunch of you are, too.  I can’t wait to find out what life will feel like sans scrolling.  
I have created 10 pretty stringent (to me) rules designed to cut aimless surfing out of my life completely and bring more purpose to my free time — and more peace/boredom/awareness to the nooks and crannies of life.
Please feel free to adapt these to your purposes.  
Here we go!
1.  Deactivate Facebook. This can be done through settings.  Don’t worry, it’s temporary.  But this keeps you completely out of the FB loop and (for me) reduces temptation.  You can reactivate simply by entering username and password.  If you feel you are likely to do this, have a loved one change your password for you and keep it hidden. 
2.  Uninstall all social media apps from phone/tablet/whatever.  I deleted Instagram, Feedly, and had already nixed the FB app.   If you are young and cool enough to be on Snapchat (I am not), that should probably go too.  And Periscope.  Etc etc – you get the picture.  
3.  Limit email checks to a predetermined number per day — I recommend 3 if feasible.  For me this applies primarily to my personal gmail, not my work email which is boring and filled with work –not really at all tempting anyway.  But I will keep work checks as minimal & purposeful as possible, too.
4.  No phone use in bed.  Period.  It can be used as alarm only and should be promptly turned off.
5.  No phone use in car, with the following exceptions: maps app, podcast app.
6.  No phone use (or even out) while interacting with loved ones or supervising kids.  It may be brought out to take an occasional photo (which will not make it to Instagram until March, at the earliest.)
7.  Blogs followed in feed reader are limited to 20 or less.  You can still read your favorites, but check-ins must be purposeful and limited to two maximum time slots daily: lunchtime & evening.  No blog reading/commenting session should last longer than 20 minutes — set a timer.  Same guidelines apply to other online content (NYT online, for example) and those minutes count in the total.
8.  Check in via the comment section of this blog (I’ll do a dedicated post each Monday!) with your progress, struggles, victories, etc.
9.  Extra-special challenge:  Spend one day without use of a screen of any time.  (There goes my blogging streak, unless I schedule a post ahead of time . . .)
10.  Keep some kind of record of how you are doing.  Particularly note the things you are now doing instead of clicking and scrolling.  Something has to fill the void . . .
I’m psyched for tomorrow.  We can do this!!
Analog version:
(I thought of #10 after finishing this list!)


  • Reply Courtney March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m oddly excited to join! I just returned to work after having a baby, and I don’t want his life to pass by too quickly while I’m reading things on my phone. (Also, I’ve read that children pay attention to what their parents pay attention to, and I want him to grow up knowing that books are more interesting than phones.)

    I’m wondering if you would have different rules if you were still pumping? Like most working moms, I have to get work stuff done when I pump at work, but when I pump at home, I’ve been using playing on my phone as a reward of sorts for getting the pumping done. Or would you use your pumping time as your 2x per day of checking Feedly/reading the news? I’m leaning toward just using my pumping time as my mindless phone time, but wanted to get your take!

  • Reply Another_Sara March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m in! My rules will be slightly different than your rules but I’m going to use your rules as a base to make sure mine cover all the same areas. Thanks for organizing! I’m excited to pay attention to number 10. 🙂

    Also, there was some conversation re: rule 5 (phone use in car) on your last post and I wanted to add something about that. This is NOT meant to lecture anyone but perhaps will make #5 easier to stick to during and after this month. Even though it’s rarely enforced, if texting while driving is illegal in your state, it’s probably also illegal to use your phone at traffic lights (” target=”_blank”>” target=”_blank”>( There’s some gray area here around what using your phone "in motion" means, but if something were to happen, you could be held accountable. Also, I live in a large city with a high percentage of cyclists and I tend to bike more than drive. When you’re on your bike, you really see just how bad cell phone distraction is, including when people are focused on a screen while at a light and then put it down when the light turns green (fully realize this goes for cyclists too!). When I began cycling for transportation, I started noticing how many cyclists get hit or almost hit by "right hooks," drivers turning right at an intersection (sometimes without signaling) and not realizing there is a cyclist next to them in the bike lane who is going straight. When you’re paying attention during a red light, you are more likely to notice cyclists, pedestrians and other cars approaching from all angles and will know who is around you as you move through the intersection. This is definitely more of an issue in cities with a high concentration of cyclists/pedestrians but I think applies all over — more attention on the road = safer, even when you aren’t moving!

  • Reply monicaplocki March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m in! I really need this and want to see how much time I free up and what I do with it. I never thought I would do this but my 3 year old recently said, "Close the computer! Talk to me’.
    OUCH! ugh the mom guilt! I guess I use it more than I think?
    I know that sounds terrible, albeit my son is going through a clingy phase, it is still telling.

  • Reply nicoleandmaggie March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    We will miss you guys!

  • Reply StephC March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Hi Sarah! I’ve read your blog for a long time even though I rarely comment, but I’m coming out of the woodwork to say that I think this challenge is great and I’m excited to join in! I often fall victim to scrolling the internet mindlessly when I’m tired, instead of doing something that would actually relax me like reading, talking to a friend, or even watching Netflix. I would love to free up some time for more intentional leisure!

    • Reply theSHUbox March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      Yay Steph! we can do it!!! "Intentional leisure" – l like it.

  • Reply Jenny March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Awesome, I’m in, too. I’m always game for a monthly challenge. I used your rules as a base with some personal tweaks.

    I cannot wait to hear other’s thoughts on #10! And re: #6, I never have my phone out when I am actively playing/caring for/interacting with my daughter but there’s plenty of time when my presence is required but my direct supervision is not (if that makes any sense – when she’s eating or playing independently, that kind of thing) and that’s when I fall back on the phone. I think I need to brainstorm some ideas about what else I could do with those minutes so I’m ready when they happen (stretch? color? light chores?).

  • Reply Katie March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I have been trying and failing to moderate so I home that some degree of "group accountability" will help me. I am going to stick with the 2-20min sessions/day idea. I logged out of facebook (I may use it during my 20min slots), I am undecided on instagram. I want to access it, but don’t want to mindlessly go on it. I may just delete it and put it back on m phone intermittently throughout the month.

    We are house hunting and getting sucked into looking at houses online & then googling things related to them (costs of things, how to make use of a space etc). Some of that is necessary to be able to make a decision, but sometimes I stay up until 11 or later doing it and I’m beat the next morning. I need to figure out how to fit in the time that I truly need to devote to that without just going overboard with it….

  • Reply Lindsey March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    This is such a great challenge! I’m in. I hate how society is so addicted to screens. I don’t have Instgram, Twitter, Feedly (hadn’t even heard of this before your post–I feel like a Luddite!), or anything other than email or Facebook, so at least the prep won’t be too hard. #10 will be interesting! Hoping for more sleep and more reading, and more present time w/ kids.

  • Reply EricA March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m so in!
    Instead of deactivating FB, I unfollowed everyone except family and very close friends and unliked all pages. I also put a blocking extension on chrome on my work computer. Deleted all SM apps and unfollowed a bunch of blogs so I’m down to 12. I use Feedly to read articles for work so won’t delete that. I’m limited FB check ins with my running club and book club to once a day, on bus via phone browser. Going to start leaving phone in backseat when in car and got a box in our living room to deposit phone into when I get home from work!

  • Reply Katie March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    Hi, I’ve never commented before either, but I’m in too! I’m currently looking for a job (something I loathe) so I’m on the computer all-day-long. I’ve noticed I search for jobs/write cover letters for an hour then reward my self with 30 minutes of surfing the web. Not a productive ratio! I will miss having my phone in bed at night – ending the day doing the NYTimes mini crossword on my phone has become a habit, but that too is followed by mindless internet use until i can’t keep my eyes open. Not how I want to live. Thanks for organizing this!

  • Reply Kate March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m long time reader, first time commenter. I love this idea and was thinking of giving up FB for Lent this year. However, I do a lot of social planning via FB via messages and events. For this reason alone, I’d be really hesitant to deactivate my account. Do you have any thoughts on how to get around this issue?

  • Reply Ana March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    obviously I’m in, though I made my own set of rules already (fairly similar overall). Do you count blogging in there? I do want to write, but can’t fit that into 20 minutes! I’m most interested in seeing what thoughts/creativity/productivity fills the extra time. I guess if its only daydreams, thats still better.

  • Reply Lauren March 10, 2019 at 7:11 pm

    I’m in! I’m a faithful reader who hardly ever comments. I’ve got 3-year-old twin boys, and I have the same kinds of concerns that you do about setting a poor example for them and letting their childhoods pass me by while I stare at a screen. I did pretty well today. I hate to admit it, but time spent in the car is a huge challenge for me. The urge to check my phone while sitting at stoplights is ridiculous and dangerous. I didn’t do it today, and the pull I felt towards it was shocking and disturbing. I think this challenge is just what I need right now.

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