unplugged
It’s been four days since I last time checked my emails, studied my blog stats, surfed the Web, chatted online, published a post, worked on a project or talked to a client. And how am I doing? I’m perfectly fine with it. What’s more – I’m finally enjoying some time off and spending it with my family. At this moment my husband and daughter are napping, while I’m writing down my thoughts on being unplugged.

We’re staying in a cabin on one of the small Gulf Islands, overlooking Pacific ocean with a semi-private beach. I feel like a celebrity, blessed to be spending my vacation in such a spectacular place like this. Every morning the tidewater recedes far back to the ocean, baring the vast shore land, filled with oysters (hence the name of this place – Oyster Bay). It’s an incredible feeling to be walking the bottom of the ocean, carefully avoiding to step on starfish, little crabs and live oysters, collecting stunning seashells and knowing that in a few hours the tide would come in again, slowly filling the bay with smoky waters.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to complete any of my drafts before leaving for vacation, but fortunately, I’ve discovered a pretty little store on the island, that offers an internet access. So I’m saving this draft and will publish it when I get online.

What I’ve realized while staying on this island is that being unplugged for some time is actually good for you. Don’t dread leaving the online world for a while, but embrace it, make the most out of it. Of course, the best approach to take is just take it easy and forget about work. But if you are already addicted to your blog (like me), then here’s how to recharge your creative fluids, revitalize your writing style, enhance your blogging topics and enrich your ideas with 8 simple ways by going Unplugged:

1. A better way to read your RSS feeds

Google Reader is becoming the most poplar RSS aggregator, however it’s unreachable when you have no internet access. If you own a laptop and took it with you to the offline world, use Thunderbird Mail to subscribe to your favourite RSS feeds. Before going on vacation, I’ve added half of my RSS feeds to my Thunderbird and now can browse and read them, just like any other email in my inbox.
If you don’t have a laptop or didn’t take it with you, then print out the long posts from your favourite blogs, staple, take with you on vacation and read them later like a newspaper.

I’ve already got several ideas for my future posts from reading those articles in my RSS reader.

2. Read like our ancestors and we did in pre-internet times.

You can’t help but notice how lazy and spoiled we became because of all those perks that come with Web and TV. We hardly have time to read books or magazines, really “read” and not scan like we usually do when reading blogs or news sites. I used to be quite a bookworm in the pre-internet era, reading one-two new books every week. Now I hardly even have time to read a book a month. Most of the things I need I can find online, other things I read in newspapers or magazines. I almost forgot what it feels like to read fiction – stories and novels written by gifted writers, real writers, not the wannabe-writer bloggers ;-)

Guess what? By reading those masters of the written word, you may be able to borrow a few trick of trades and implement them into your own writing. Those books could also inspire you to come up with something for your blogs.

One of such books has already inspired me to come up with a new regular feature for my blog. I’ll start it once I get back from my vacation, next week.

3. Brainstorm for future posts

Darren Rowse wrote a very useful article on how to Plan Your Next Week’s Posting Schedule, where he shared some valuable lessons from his own early blogging days on how he and his blogs benefited from becoming a Planner after being an Impulsive Blogger. What could be a better opportunity for you to brainstorm some ideas for your future posts while being unplugged. With or without a laptop, write down your thoughts, plan some topics you’d like to discuss on your blog. By changing the scenery, you’ll have more chances to come up with something interesting and fresh for your future posts.

So hopefully, after this vacation I too will mature enough for becoming a blogger who plans rather than being a sporadic one.

4. Relax, be inspired and memorize.

The best thing about being unplugged and on vacation is having no outside distractions like Web surfing, emails, phone calls (considering that you’ve actually warned everyone not to be bothered with calls unless it’s a real crisis). So relax – collect shells, go hiking, camping, kayaking, or simply lay in a hammock and drink your favourite spirit, while not forgetting the old wisdom – “In Vino Veritas – The Truth is in Wine”. Memorize or write down that truth and later get back to it when you’re stuck in a writer’s block or searching for that unique inspirational post for your blog.

5. Give your blog a facelift

Now it’s the best time to grant a little or a big makeover for your blog. If you just want to spruce it up a little bit by paying attention to all those little details that usually get overlooked on so many blogs (including this one), then either work on them by installing a local copy of your blog on your laptop and tweaking the code or graphics, or simply sketch your ideas on a paper and implement them when you’re back. If you’re up to giving your blog a complete re-design, then go for it – sketch your design ideas while laying on the beach, or drinking beer and watching the sunset. If you have time, digitally re-create those sketches in your favourite graphics software, or present them later to your designer.

I’ve started sketching a new theme for Inspiration Bit. How it will turn out only time will tell and your feedback :-)

6. Become a guest

I already agreed with a few fellow bloggers to guest write for their blogs, but I haven’t yet had a chance to do so either due to lack of time or lack of ideas for my guest posts. If you’re in the same situation as I am, or if you didn’t actually think about guest writing on other blogs, now it’s the time to come up with some ideas for guest posts or create a list of blogs you’d like to guest blog for and start drafting the email proposals to their authors.

7. Connect with your loyal readers or fellow bloggers

I keep most of my blog’s comment email notifications in my inbox. This way I always have an access to my loyal readers’ email addresses. However, unfortunately, I don’t always have time to connect with them on a more personal level, other than commenting on their respective blogs once in a blue moon. It is very important for a blogger to be in touch with his/her blog readers who take time to post their comments, share their thoughts, give their feedback or express a disagreement. Wouldn’t you feel good if another blogger whose site your frequent will all of sudden send you a friendly email? Why wouldn’t you give back and send a quick thank-you or a how-do-you-do email and take your relationship to the next level?

If you’re a loyal fan of Inspiration Bit, expect an email from me in a near future :-)

8. Spend quality time with your family

And last but certainly not least, spend uninterrupted time with your loved ones or friends who inadvertently suffer from your blogging hobby. I could’ve said more here, but I won’t – my daughter woke up and needs my undivided attention. So I pay you adieu and continue enjoying my vacation unplugged.

How do you spend your time unplugged? What is your ideal way to spend vacation?

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13 Insightful Bits in response to “8 Bits Of Recharging Your Blogging Battery By Going Unplugged”

  1. Enjoy your holidays!
    Recently I discovered that I don’t need to go anywhere to feel like on holiday, it is enough to somehow get away from internet connection and mobile phone. At the first moment or two, that can cause an attack of panic. But after that initial discomfort is put away with couple of really deep breaths and some positive thoughts :) life becomes just beautiful. Yes, I am suffering from the information overload.

    It is interesting how we forget those not only useful but also healthy and joyful practices of easy reading, relaxing and letting our mind wander pointlessly.And still, those are the most important in whatever we do.

    I guess I’ll have to turn off my connections soon. Thanks for reminding me that.

  2. Time away from the computer is great for getting your mind together. I like having a notepad and jotting down ideas, sometimes writing whole posts.

    Hey, what about Google Gears for offline browsing?

  3. I am envious. It sounds wonderful where you are. As for me I spent the afternoon moving printers around a one hundred degree wharehouse.

    It sounds like we have a lot to look forward to when you get back.

  4. I LOVE that photo Vivien! Did you take it?? It exudes wonder and discovery. What a precious picture. I can just see the excitement after the child touches the starfish for the first time.

    I’m looking forward to that personal email! What a great idea :)

    I love all sorts of vacations: backpacking, cruises, road trips. They are so relaxing for me. I always stress about things that need to be done (house chores and such), but when I’m away from home, I can’t do anything about them anyway, so I stop worrying! It’s wonderful!

  5. Vivien, sounds wonderful.
    If you install the Google Gears plugin, you can view your Google Reader feeds offline!
    There’s more info about it here:
    http://www.google.com/help/reader/offline.html

  6. Spending quality time with family is a good way to keep things in perspective. I’ve been learning Spanish since about November of last year, and I quit in March. Since visiting family in June, I’ve been remotivated and am learning faster than ever.

  7. Jen

    So true about unplugging from blogging. Even though I had my laptop and internet access while in Nova Scotia on vacation, I purposely did not write in my blog and only commented on one blog. It was a family vacation and I needed that time to spend with my family and of course, read books. For me, reading is still my number one pastime, yes, blogging is not on the top of the list!

    Hope you enjoyed your vacation, it sounds peaceful and beautiful.

  8. I just got back from basically being unplugged for 5 days too. Well, not totally unplugged, but as close as I like to get. It can be very refreshing and I am back with much more energy and focus.

    I hope you enjoyed your vacation!

  9. Your holiday sounds fantastic. I know what you mean about being unplugged. I had two weeks away with absolutely no internet access I thought I would get the shakes but I survived :) . You start to appreciate the people you are with and the landscape around you.

    Now I am depressed staring at my computer screen – better book my next holiday ;)

    Have a great time!

  10. Vivien

    You know what, dandelion? The same thought has crossed my mind when I was on holidays – I can always arrange a quick one-day holiday once in awhile by unplugging myself and recharging my batteries. As for now, I have so much work piled up upon my arrival that I can’t even predict when I’d be able to allow myself another day off.

    Rory and John, have you used yourself that Google Gears? I checked it out and it’s still Beta. I think I’ll stick to my Thunderbird for awhile, but will give it a try to Gears soon. Thanks for letting me know about that.

    Joey, hope I won’t disappoint you with my future posts on Inspiration Bit :-) Looks like you need to declare a day off for yourself.

    thanks, Lauren. Yes, I took that photo of my daughter’s hand and starfish. I never saw so much starfish resting together in groups. There were groups of 10-20 starfish in one place – amazing sight.

    Ronald, did you start reading Spanish blogs yet? :-)

    To tell you the truth, Jen, I didn’t really have much time for anything else but spending time with my family, especially with my daughter. The first thing she was asking me when waking up in the morning was “walk?” (are we going for a walk?) :-)

    Thanks, Char. I did enjoy my vacation. I wish it was a bit longer and the weather was a bit warmer.

    Tara, I know what you mean – I’m just back from my vacation and already wishing to go for another one :-)

  11. Ronald, once you got fairly good with reading spanish blogs, try writing one :)
    Seriously, English is not my mother tongue, but I blog in English. And after six months or so, I can proudly notice that my English significantly improved. It is not always easy thing to do, but it is a great excercise with many rewards.

  12. Vivien,

    I subscribed to one Spanish blog today and also to two “word a day” type blogs. I’m about a quarter of the way through Rosetta Stone and I’m surprised how much I’ve learned so far. I tried getting satellite so I can watch latin-American TV, but my landlord won’t let me. And my cable provider doesn’t have any Latino channels. I do plan on buying some TV shows and renting as many movies as I can in Spanish.

    dandellion,

    That is an excellent suggestion. I was contemplating that when I get good enough, I’ll publish the same post on my personal website in Spanish. For now, I’ll try visiting some blogs and leave comments. I just need to find some blogs now :)

  13. I have started learning french online one-on-one on Windows Live Messenger using a headset with a tutor in Paris. You guys should give learning Spanish a go this way, it’s great. You actually get to hear the authentic accent rather than someone from the US or UK with their interpretation of it.

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on