18 Ways to Unplug and Take Tech Break When You Work Online

As a remote worker, you probably spend a lot of time on computers, tablets, smartphones, and other devices. Though it’s tempting to watch a movie or play on your phone after you clock-out, there are benefits to spending time away from screens. Keep this list handy when you want to unplug.

18 Ways to Unplug and Take Tech Break When You Work Online

Americans spend an average of 23.6 hours per week online, 14.4 of which take place at work, according to the University of Southern California’s 2017 Digital Future Report. When you work at home, however, online usage for professional and personal reasons is difficult to track independently, as the lines between being online for work or leisure are often blurred. This leads to the persistent, nagging feeling of always being plugged-in.

If you’re a remote worker who has a hard time shutting off your screens and taking a break from tech, we have 18 ideas for unplugging so you can decompress.

1. Take a Walk

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. One of the most convenient ways to remove yourself from all-things-tech is to take yourself to a place where computers don’t exist. Get out of the house and go for a stroll around your neighborhood. Get lost on purpose so that you discover places and spaces that you never knew existed.

Want to be more outgoing? Take things a step further and introduce yourself to someone you meet during your walk. Striking up an in-person conversation will remind you that life isn’t all about computers and mobile devices.

2. Play at the Park

If you don’t like wandering and prefer a destination, head out to a park and bring the pets or kids and a lunch. Play frisbee, cornhole, or a simple game of catch. On the weekends, consider pitching a tent and camping out under the stars. Learn how to make a fire, roast marshmallows, tell ghost stories, practice survival skills, and get reacquainted with the woods.

3. Join a Sports Club

Volleyball, dodgeball, and kickball – oh my! There’s a league for just about every sport these days – even ones you never knew were considered “sports.”

What was your favorite activity from phys ed class? There’s probably a league for that. Check out your neighborhood organizations or even restaurants and bars near you.

4. Chase After Your Pets

A friendly game of fetch and tug-of-war can help you decompress and remember what’s most important in life. Even in the winter, get outside and roll around with those cute, furry creatures. Teach them new tricks and introduce them to other neighborhood pets.

5. Exercise

Pump some iron, practice yoga, or go on a moderate jog. If your job is notorious for cranking up your stress levels, consider lowering your energy with a slower activity, such as tai chi. If you feel yourself getting lazy or unmotivated, kick your energy into high gear with high-intensity workouts and bootcamps.

Do you like the water? Splash around the neighborhood recreation center and swim a few laps. Take group fitness classes that are dance-based to incorporate fun and forget that you’re working out. As a bonus, exercise can help improve your posture and prevent some of the risks of sitting at a desk all day.

Related: How to Reduce Sedentary Health Risks from Sitting at a Desk All Day

6. Do Chores

Even though you work at home, it’s easy to let little messes turn into big decluttering projects. At the end of each day, do a few 30-minute tasks to free your mind from the computer and get a little physical exercise at the same time.

To stay on top of everything, create a chore chart so that you have set tasks to do each day. Not only will you get a mini workout and decompression time, but your house will be spotless all year long.

7. Write to a Pen Pal

Since emailing and talking on the phone is technically tech, compose a handwritten letter to a friend or family member, especially one that lives far away. It’ll give you a chance to work on that penmanship you never seem to use since you’re always typing away at the keyboard. Writing a pen pal can also reconnect you with a special person who may miss your friendship.

8. Read a Book

When’s the last time you read a book? An actual book – not on an e-reader or smartphone. Go to the library and check out a few titles you’ve been wanting to explore. Join a book club to keep pace and talk about plots and characters with other like-minded people.

9. Do a Craft

Have you ever wanted to paint something or learn how to knit? Maybe you saw a show where people weave rugs or design t-shirts and felt inspired. Get crafty in your spare time and build something creative with your hands rather than a graphic design program.

10. Try a New Recipe

Cook yourself a fancy dinner or make a bunch of tapas. Practice making a few staple items so that you can bring delicious dishes to parties, family events, or school fundraisers. Do you prefer baking? Look up a few interesting dessert ideas and go nuts with the cookie cutters! Adopt an adventurous spirit and modify and combine recipes to uncovers new flavors and techniques.

11. Play an Instrument

Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” Perhaps it’s time to live life to the fullest and pick up that dusty guitar.

If you don’t know how to play, take a few lessons and start strumming away. Who cares how bad it sounds? You don’t have to aim to be the next superstar artist, but the more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel. Plus, as the Portland Chamber Orchestra explains, playing an instrument can restructure your brain, improve memory, and increase motor function.

12. Tackles Those Home Repairs

Clean the gutters, replace the air filter in the heater, snake the drains, and do all those other house repairs that you’ve been putting off. Create a master list of all the improvements and fixes you need to make, then estimate a cost and timeline to complete each. Next, schedule each task as you would your daily chores. Once all major tasks are complete, pat yourself on the back for a job well done and create an ongoing maintenance schedule to preserve your hard work.

13. Redecorate and Upcycle

As you’re going around the house fixing things, think about how you can improve the design of your home and truly make it your dream house. Rearrange the furniture and learn how to refinish wood and reupholster chairs and sofas. Consider painting the walls a fresh new color and adding artwork to lonely looking hallways. Do you have a lot of clutter on the ground?

Consider creative ways to install shelving, such as above window panes and doors, in vacant corners, and under furniture. Most of all, stylize your home office so that you get excited to clock in every day.

Related: What Your Home Office Color Says About You

14. Tend to the Garden

Gardening can be quite relaxing and meditative. So, get in the yard and pull all the weeds, nurture some seedlings, and water the flowers. Consider starting a vegetable or herb garden or starting a compost pile. Growing your own food is deliciously rewarding, and the compost reduces your overall landfilled waste. You can also teach curious neighbors how to make their own gardens and compost and help reduce your street’s impact on the environment. Also, gardening is a great way to teach children about biology, patience, and natural resources.

15. Visit a Museum

When’s the last time you went to an art museum or the zoo? Spend some time “oohing and aahing” at the sculptures of old and modern creative artifacts. Visit the local history museum in your town or city to learn about the early settlers and how the area grew over time. Hit up the nearest zoo or aquarium and actually spend time reading the information at each exhibit. Whatever your interests are, entertain them all and bring a friend along to share the experiences.

16. Put the Pedal to the Metal

After being cooped up in a home office all week, it can be refreshing to drive down backroads and escape the buzz of your neighborhood. Consider a weekend trip to the nearest lake or shoreline. Go visit a nearby monument, landmark, or national preservation sight you’ve never seen, or, simply enjoy life on the open road and navigating with an old-fashioned map (no GPS!)

17. Volunteer

Whenever you feel burned out at work and like your job or daily life lacks meaning or involvement in the greater good, volunteer your time to help a cause that aligns with your values. For example, volunteer at an animal shelter, hospital, elementary school, homeless shelter, or trash pick-up event. Consider stretching yourself and doing things you normally wouldn’t do on a daily basis. Since a lot of volunteer work involves manual labor, you’ll be far away from tech while helping to uplift someone else’s quality of life.

18. Sleep In

More than one-third of all Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Experts recommend seven to eight hours of sleep each night, yet even work-at-home professionals find that hard to achieve.

In our National Work and Family Month 2016 Survey, nearly half of Virtual Vocations respondents admitted that work interfered with personal activities, such as sleep, at least three days per week.

Do you have a telecommute job with a flexible schedule? Now and again, forget your alarm and treat yourself to a late morning rise. Let your body’s natural rhythms tell you when it’s time to get up and resist looking at the clock. Enjoy the freedom of not having to be anywhere or do anything at any particular time.

Ready to Plug Back In?

The point of working from home is to create more work-life balance; don’t forget about the life part of that balance. Put away the screens; close the office doors, and clock out. When it’s time to plug back in, you’ll feel refreshed, fired up, and ready to tackle the day’s challenges.

For more helpful resources on work-life balance and creating a successful work-at-home career, check out our Telecommute Toolkit as part of your Virtual Vocations membership. Don’t have a membership? Sign up as a free or premium member to access the Telecommute Toolkit, email job alerts, and dozens of other benefits. Want to know more about the Telecommute Toolkit? Read this convenient overview on our blog: Telecommute Toolkit: Virtual Vocations Member Benefit Overview

Do you have additional tips on how to unplug and take a break from techConnect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to tell us about your dream job. We’d love to hear from you! 

Photo Credit: 1. iStock.com/Altayb


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