How to Take a Digital Sabbatical

I’m taking a Digital Sabbatical for the month of August.

Also a coaching-talking-traveling-teaching sabbatical.

Picture me bouncing around my studio with happiness and glee… and fear and trembling.

Fear and trembling.

What am I afraid of?

The idea that is stalking me.

It’s huge, it’s lofty, it makes my stomach clench or rather, I clench my stomach when I think of it.

It does not make my bowels turn to water so hey, that’s a positive.

I know that for this idea to get some traction, to see if we can make something together, I need big swathes of time.

During a writing retreat in April (a gift from the amazing Fetzer Institute), I unplugged and I wrote the entire Satisfaction Finder in that week. So I know unplugging works for me.

Maybe Nicholas Carr is right?

From the comments on my Facebook announcement about unplugging, you might think I’m taming a lion while bungee jumping while debating climate change with Sarah Palin. As in, people are like, “Really! A whole month!”

Hence this post about how to do it, if you should care to join me.

But wait a cotton picking minute, isn’t blogging being on line?

A Digital Sabbatical – just like any form of creative and spiritual renewal – needs clear Conditions of Enoughness that you determine.

Or there are no Digital Sabbatical police.

What there are is your desires. Why do you want to unplug? What do you need?

To create COE’s for your Digital Sabbatical start by journaling for 5 minutes, keeping your hand moving, exploring the question: Why do I want to unplug?and What do I need?

Then look for what you want – what emerges as a few clear desires? – and set clear COE’s.

Remember the four elements of COE’s:

  1. Name what is enough in simple facts.
  2. Include a time element.
  3. Ensure they’re dependent on ONLY YOU on an AVERAGE day.
  4. Declare you are satisfied when your conditions are met—even if you don’t feel satisfied

Here’s my process edited for brevity’s sake:

I am unplugging because:

I need to come into honest relationship with this new idea. Only then can I ask, “Will this be of service to you?” I need space to hear my own heart first.

I need to stop distracting myself (by checking email, Comfort Cafe forums, Twitter) from this terrifying new idea. I need to rewire my brain to go deep.

I need to dive deep into thinking and learning – to have space to “the confidence to explore new forms of expression, to blaze difficult and demanding paths of thought, to venture into uncharted and sometimes hazardous territory” to quote Carr, without knowing what will come of it..

My Conditions of Enoughness for Unplugging:

From August 1st to September 1st.

No email – if you email my private address, you will get a lovely message telling  you I’m off line until September 1st and your message will be deleted. But wait, what if Oprah calls? I give my phone number in that email. Yes, gasp, you can call me if you need me. I might not answer but you can get hold of me. Remember life before email?

No Twitter. Susan, my Comfort Cafe Barista, will tweet on my behalf a tad, to keep Cafers reminds of the juicy stuff going on with Lisa Rough, creative coach, and our leader for August. I deleted Tweetdeck from dashboard so I won’t automatically go check.

No Facebook – except once a day if I have a blog post to briefly respond to.

Comfort Cafe – 30 minutes a day on the forums and content. Using a timer.

No clients, no calls, no appointments (other than personal), no radio shows, no retreats, no commitments.

That’s a lot of COE’s on what I won’t do. What will I do?

Morning ritual (yoga, meditation)

Write 2 hours on the idea

Blog post if it feels right. I blog to understand myself.  Part of what is happening to me is an unbranding of myself for myself (more on that to come). To help that be fully realized, I need to do it in community. I hope to do it in a way that is of service to you.  However, blogging can also lead me to try and make things neat, polished, known. If that starts to happen, I will stop blogging, for the day or the month. It must be real, honest, and serve my process.

Play~ art making, doodle romps in the woods, hanging with Lilly, Bob, gardening, making healthy nourishing meals, following my desires by asking, “What do I want?” enjoying my retreat with my Brain Trust later this the month, being coached by Michele, reading, thinking, being.

As I write this, my heart is beating fast and I am wishing I could go check email or Twitter. Instead… it’s time to dive in…

To the unknown.

As Pat Woodall, who taught painting to my writer’s in Taos last week, says, “Art happens in the unknown.”

Many good things, certainly all new things, do.

Here I go.

Wish me honesty, courage, and low expectations.

Links: The Satisfaction Finder, Nicholas Carr, Fetzer, Pat Woodall,

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Tweets that mention How to Take a Digital Sabbatical » Comfort Queen -- - August 2, 2010

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jennifer Louden, liz lamoreux. liz lamoreux said: love this RT @jenlouden How to Take a Digital Sabbatical: I’m taking a Digital Sabbatical for the month of August… […]

Maribeth - August 2, 2010

Rock on Jen! I’ve been plotting a vacation/retreat/just some freakin’ time off for ages and never quite get there – but putting some conditions of enoughness on it just puts it in a whole new light. I feel like I can finally nudge myself into doing it now, knowing it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing experience.

Enjoy! Yum, yum, yum!

Julie Jordan Scott - August 2, 2010

“Brava, Jen!” (Says Julie who is Unplugging from saying more than wants to be said or read. I know you know what I mean.)

    Darnell Ballman - August 21, 2018

    Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any points for beginner blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

      Tressa Beheim - August 29, 2018

      Hi Darnell! We don’t have any content that speaks directly to beginner blog writers, but you are definitely in the right place for writing tips geared to all writers!

Gwen Bell - August 2, 2010

Thank you for supporting me with a postcard during my Digital Sabbatical last month, Jen. May yours (also) be a time of renewal.

Amy Miyamoto - August 2, 2010

I have been contemplating something similar – yet have been hesitant to commit 100%. The idea that I would not be unplugging all alone is quite “comforting”. I am considering taking a similar plunge. Something is brewing in me that has become almost physically painful to keep inside any longer…yet I know it will be challenging my biggest fears and doubts to lean into it and say “yes”. Thank you for sharing your process.

Susan Gallacher-Turner - August 2, 2010

I am encouraged by your courage to do this for a whole month!!!

I have deadlines to meet in the next 2 weeks, but after that, I’m thinking of unplugging …oh how my heart and soul are dancing with joy about this idea.

Thanks for blazing the trail!

Amy - August 3, 2010

Oh yes, Jen!!!!

I can sense you across the water, seeing new beauty around you and experiencing new levels of simplicity. I’m thrilled for you to be taking this healthful step.

And I know you’re gonna call me and come visit my sweet lil island soon!!!

Big love to you,

Joanna - August 2, 2010

Go, Jen, go! Take a month. Take six months (although I’m sure we would really, really miss you if you were unplugged for that long!).

My experience, having followed your work for more than a decade, is that whatever time you spend in your inner world results in insights (and often helpful products) that rock my world. Not that that is an expectation, just an observation.

Can’t wait to see what arises from honesty, bravery, and low expectations. Into the “I Don’t Know”! Sending lots of love, good juju, and support from this side of the electronic maelstrom.

Char - August 3, 2010

Wishing you all that you want for yourself as you unplug.

Reading your coe’s was inspiring.

And who knows where it will lead you? Just know that you are not alone – you already know that- your loyal fans support you in finding out whatever you need for yourself first.

I love and admire your honesty.

jenniferlouden - August 3, 2010

Wow, I can feel the love, thank you!

Day 1 utterly sucked. I can’t help me smile about that.

Sort of.

Gail - August 3, 2010

Yea Jen! So I’m writing this with the assumption that you probably won’t read it, and that’s perfectly okay.

The fact is: I’m on a blogging sabbatical till September so I can put more time and energy into writing my book. Looks like a mess of us are doing that sort of thing this year. I’m glad to see you’re joining in the fun and exploration. See you in the ethers my friend – g

living savvy - August 3, 2010

I won’t join you this month but a “holiday’ idea that I too have been considering for sometime in the next year (along with Fiji & sking in NZ).


betsy jackson - August 5, 2010

i rarely peruse the web. it always feels way too overwhelming. but somehow i found you, and in this moment, couldn’t tell you how that happened exactly (click click), but feeling very grateful for it. i am leaning into Conditions of Enough-ness (?) and pretty much feeling better about all things since reading your stuff. thanks.

On 5 Months of Biz-Building {A Trail Mix Tale} | Abby Kerr Ink - August 12, 2010

[…] This weekend marks the start of my yearly beach vacation with my boyfriend and his parents. I am more than ready for some surf, sand, and what the incomparable Jen Louden calls a “digital sabbatical.” […]

Notes On a Digital Sabbatical | Abby Kerr Ink - August 14, 2010

[…] I heard Jen Louden refer to it as a digital sabbatical, I used to think of excusing oneself from the internets for a predetermined length of time as […]

What I got From my Digital Sabbatical l » Comfort Queen - September 1, 2010

[…] My post on how I structured my time off. […]

Vicky White - September 1, 2010

Wonderful Jen – thank you for your courage. I have not found my way with social media – I’m really aware of using it and email as a distraction whenever I get close to something meaningful and scary! So I gave up completely with Fb and Twitter for the last month – should have added email to that list. I know when I unplug for a weekend and go to the seaside, I get totally inspired by my life and business again, but I haven’t figured out how to have balance in that. I look forward to seeing how you do it – what a wonderful retreat you gave yourself. Sort of sad to see how I /we distract ourselves from so much and what a challenge it is to use technology in a way that supports what’s real. Scary stuff, what’s real! xoxox

Vicky White - September 1, 2010

Woops – well I must have really unplugged – my reply should have been elsewhere!

Barb Newton - September 6, 2010

Wow! How timely that I have hopped upon this site! I have become increasingly distracted by the computer this summer and feel so “out-of-sorts” because of the constant disconnect it causes from the rest of my life. It’s attached to me like a bungee cord that keeps pulling me away from the meaningful. I have been contemplating how I can manage my addiction: cold turkey vs. reasonable usage.
I also fear for the younger users who don’t know life without this technology: they do not how good it is on “the other side”! I propose a national day/week of digital disconnect!
So wonderful to know I’m not the one experiencing this!

Barb Newton - September 6, 2010

oops….correction…..So wonderful to know I’m not the only one experiencing this!

Thinking About: A Digital Sabbatical « Allowing Myself - July 30, 2012

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