Why I'm Taking a Digital Semi-Sabbatical

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may have seen that I announced a 1-week Twitter sabbatical last night. That’s the type of thing that’ll cause eyebrows to raise so I thought it’d be a good time to articulate why I felt this step was necessary. I mean, as a blogger it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me to ditch my #1 platform for connecting with readers, right?

First of all, a smidge of background. Since January 4th I’ve been working full-time as a high school economics and government teacher. I have the tendency to throw myself into endeavors to the point where everything else gets pushed to the back burner. I was working 10+ hour days trying to be an awesome teacher and that resulted in me doing nothing else other than teaching, planning to teach, or grading. All of my blogging duties and responsibilities have been seriously neglected over the past three months.

However, I happen to be fairly sweet at GTD (Getting Things Done). I read David Allen’s book several years ago and since then have implemented a fairly robust productivity system that usually serves me quite well (and also read the book twice more). My GTD system allows me to capture incoming thoughts and ideas fairly seamlessly and for the last three months I’ve been absolutely dominating the “collect” aspect of GTD.

On Friday I basically finished my teaching assignment and began to turn my attention back to my writing and blogging. However, three months of collecting information and ideas but not acting on them has left me feeling absolutely swamped and overrun. I have so much that I think I might want to do, but maybe not, but then again maybe I do.

I decided that I need to take a week to work through all my information, clarify what it means to me, and align it with my goals and values. To that end, the last thing I need is even MORE information to add to the pile. So, I decided that taking a break from Twitter, Google Reader, mindless net surfing, and awesome-blog reading was in order. I need to spend some time alone with my thoughts, and only MY thoughts, in order to prepare myself for the coming months.

In a nutshell, here’s what’s going on.

WHY I’M TAKING A SEMI-DIGITAL SABBATICAL

  1. I’m way too good at GTD (well, the “collecting” aspect of it)
  2. I’ve had some major life changes that need to be addressed (upcoming article about that later this week)
  3. I need to spend some time with my own thoughts. I find myself getting sucked into the awesomeness that you all create and sometimes it depresses me because I don’t think I can do that. This is bullshit but sometimes I need to give myself a break from all the amazing stuff my friends produce and see if I can do something that warrants my association with them.

WHAT I WILL NOT BE DOING DURING MY SEMI-DIGITAL SABBATICAL

  1. Checking or posting on Twitter (except for initially tweeting out new articles by using the button on my blog)
  2. Checking my RSS feeds
  3. Browsing reddit or any other news aggregation site
  4. Checking email more than twice a day

WHAT I WILL BE DOING FOR THE NEXT WEEK

  1. Running
  2. Writing for the website
  3. Writing for myself
  4. Writing for a freelance project
  5. Cooking good food
  6. Meditating
  7. Reading Making it All Work (again)
  8. Realigning my daily action with my overall goals

WHAT'S THE ULTIMATE GOAL?

  1. Come back with a clearer focus for my website.
  2. Come back with a clearer vision of what I’m trying to do with my life
  3. Come back with a healthier relationship with Twitter, email and other online information sources
  4. Come back with a renewed vigor for my own creative output

Whew. That’s a lot of writing to essentially say, “I’m peace-ing out for a little bit but I’ll be back soon.” I like the idea of digital sabbaticals and writers better than I have explored the idea in more detail, if you’re interested. I think the idea of stepping back from the internet, unplugging and focusing on the self is going to become much, much more commonplace in the future. It’s only when your goals, values, and purpose are crystal clear in your mind that you can productively harness the information deluge that the internet provides. As soon as those higher level ideas become a little murky the internet shifts from an entity full of endless possibility to one of oppressive weight.

I’ll be getting my head together, creating some excellent content, and coming back with a new attitude after this break. Thanks for sticking around during the last three months and I’ll do my best to make it worth your while.

To wrap things up, I'd love to hear about your experiences with digital sabbaticals in the comments!