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Ask HN: How often do you “unplug”?
25 points by wu-ikkyu 12 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments
How often do you turn off or get away from all your devices and notifications? Do you have an activity you like to do during this time?

I've started trying to unplug for at least an hour a day in order to refresh mentally.

I typically like to get outside, go trail running, or just lay in a hammock and watch the clouds. With all the distractions and people fighting for your attention on the web, it seems like a good way to maintain more mental autonomy and focus on the things you really want to do.

I decided a few years ago that I was tired of being fat, so I started working out. Fast forward to today... I'm still fat (dieting is the trick folks, you can't burn an extra 700-1000 calories a day while using that "deficit" as a reason to enjoy that dessert and get to a healthy weight) but I usually walk about 7 miles a day (thanks Apple Watch for the effortless tracking), every day. During that time I will listen to an audio book. Sometimes I just spend the time thinking about hard problems in whatever project I'm working on, but most often I enjoy a book.

Listening to book on that walk is how I unplug and is probably the best habit I've ever picked up. I'm 40lbs lighter, probably 100 or so books better read and have a nice collection of destroyed Nike trophies.

Congratulations on losing 40 pounds!

To your first point, it's great to see you say that: I see this repeated so often, yet I observe very few people actually internalizing it even when they hear it from others. The most effective and efficient method for consistently losing weight is diet control.

Exercise (specifically the type and intensity) changes body composition, but diet alone impacts overall mass. You can't expect to lose much weight just because you're running - it might push you into a caloric deficit if you're not already, but it will take focused effort not to unconsciously eat more to compensate if you're not used to controlling your diet already.

Gaining mass at a caloric deficit will be impossible no matter how much weight training you do (but again: composition will alter), and losing mass will be impossible at a caloric surplus no matter how much running you do! Someone with specific fitness goals needs to strategically optimize both their exercise regimen and diet.


(a) Insisted on having a dumbphone after college; and it helps immensely in this regard - still get text and calls without the notification spam.

(b) Recently settled on a plan of spending ~30 minutes after work explicitly checking social media/net stuff, but removing the firefox icon from my sidebar/dock after that. Not having that icon there gives just enough friction that I'll end up in a calmer loop of doing digital artwork (my second job) or wandering off to read. Any important emails gets taken care of during dead time at the day-job, or pre-written in textedit.

I turn off all devices an hour or so before bed every day. Realized it takes about that long to calm down and focus; staring at a screen usually means having my attention pulled in various directions every few seconds. I usually sleep better as a result too, and it gives me time to properly wind down my day (read a book, stretch, meditate, etc).

I also exercise quite a bit as well, but don't really consider that to unplugging -- it feels more like plugging myself into fitness + outdoors, which feels like another form of work tbh.

There's an app I use to force myself to unplug before bed - SleepTown. I've been sleeping really well ever since.


I have a studio-based art hobby, and have made it habit to spend 1-2 hours daily in there free from internet,phones,and TV (music is ok tho). More time spent on weekends when I can fit it into my schedule.

It does wonders for my anxiety and stress levels, sort of like a brain nap without sleeping.

I would spend more time daily, but work and life get in the way.

I also try to read for 30mins-1hr at the end of the day, but by the time I get to it I usually fall asleep quickly.

Every week for Shabbat (25 hours from Friday night).

Only notification I get is using my cell phone as an alarm clock that auto-dismisses after 5 seconds.

I go to Temple in the morning and evening. Read both religious and secular books. Nap and if the weather is nice a walk in the forest nearby.

My devices don't distract me.

I'm neither popular enough on Twitter or Facebook to be receiving notifications on a regular basis.

I have no need to get slack notifications unless I'm directly @'d and that's rare.

I don't belong to any WhatsApp group, because that's bloody annoying.

So, no. No need to switch off. I can carry on about my day, phone at my side and it only bings at me if it's actually important.

I have one day per week where I'm not connected at all. It was very difficult for the first few weeks, but it meant that I have time for other hobbies. I've taken up woodworking and read quite a few books that I've been meaning to get to for a while. My overall happiness is up from when I started, and my productivity on my normal days is up too.

Not entirely an answer but maybe helpful. I don't ever conciously unplug. What I do do though is never let my devices/notifications interrupt or mix with any other activity I do. I don't check notifications at the gym for example. My phone is set to silent/vibrate when watching TV and it's kept aside. I never look at it when talking to someone (unless that someone caught me at a moment where I'm in the middle of a conversation online). So even going to sleep, I just get into bed and go to sleep. Thus I find the need to detox or unplug intentionally doesn't ever hit me which is pretty good tbh :).

Literally never unless my iPad of iPhone dies while I'm on the toilet or such scenarios.

I unplug as a part of my usual routine. when I get home from work my phone gets put upstairs in my bedroom (and is essentially an alarm clock until the next day). For entertainment, I will use my computer as a TV(Netflix, etc), but most of my other entertainment is non-computerized. I read paper books, I've largely replaced video games with various tabletop games like boardgames, d&d and Warhammer with the last item there leading into another nondigital hobby of miniature painting and modeling.

So my evenings are usually unplugged, at least from interactive computer stuff, but still making allowances for TV and music.

I just leave my phone on silent mode most of the time, and look at it when I want to see what's up. I don't use the facebook app, or use Twitter at all, so the only notifications I get are for text messages.

My hobbies are playing bass and cycling, and I really try to keep them analog - I don't want a bike computer or tracking app, and I don't care about recording myself or digital modulation. It's stayed just as fun as 6-7 years ago when I got into both of these things. I'm pretty much the same way with cooking, which recently evolved from a necessity to a hobby. All my friends love their rice cookers but I find them really hard to use and I don't want to watch a screen to see when my rice will be done.

I need to have some time off between work and whatever else I'm planning for the evening. I usually go for walk (either walk from the office to my place, or after i go home) and during this time I don't check my phone or listen to anything.

The other activity is listening to music. Fully. I bought a turntable last year and that changed my listening habit. I usually put on a record and give it all my focus, almost like meditation.

I wish I could say I was good at this habit. I tend to stick to it and then have lapses.

Ideally a full day off every week. Day off means a hike or a real disconnect. Being in San Francisco it's good to get out of the city and remind yourself of how beautiful Northern California is.

Time away from the screen tends to greatly increase my effectiveness when back at a keyboard and screen.

walking (or biking) outside with my wife and just talking about stuff is the best way I find to unplug...

Just add, also around the pool in the evenings with a beer or a little cocktail again just talking and no electronic and no music even...

Before when the kids were younger the best was sports few times a week (hockey, basketball, soccer, football) - it was just great, raw emotions, etc :-)

Surfing. Nothing better for me than having a 2-4 hours surfing session and then return back to my computer with a clear head.


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