“If you are not in the moment, where are you, really?”

February is a time to be with those you love or to express your caring and loving feelings.  it is also a time for reflection and renewal and growth of relationships you have now and from your past, and to take the opportunity to connect with people who may open your eyes to new possibilities and experiences.

But will you even notice if you don’t practice detaching from your technology, unplugging your electronics, your IPad, your smartphone, creating time and space for relationships?  Give your loved ones the best Valentine ever…the gift of your undivided attention and time.

According to joint research by Gyno and Forbes Insight, 98% of Americans send emails on nights and weekends, only 3% of us never send or receive emails on vacation, and 61% of us say we are addicted to the Internet.  The average web user goes to 40 sites a day and the average person, regardless of age, processes 400 texts a month….3700 for teens.  In fact, 50% of Americans say they prefer to communicate digitally rather than in person.

It has gotten so bad that an emerging trend, started in the Bay Area of California, is the”unplugging movement,” where people are detaching from their technology, at least for periods of time, and making “technology free” areas in their homes. Some of the concepts that have started there are Digital Detox, Walden Zones and Technology Shabbats.  The National Day of Unplugging is March 1-2, 2013.

Marriott International conducted surveys of customers and found 85% of vacationers were annoyed by loud cellphone users, 36% check their emails on the beach, and 89% checked their email at least once a day.  The company has now created “braincation” spots in seven of their resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico that make cellphones, iPads, laptops and other devices “off-limits.”

More and more families are limiting their own and their children’s access to technology to more fully enjoy life and to explore new activities and interests, especially in nature.  You can too!  Just unplug using some of the suggestions below and give your loved ones the “gift of your time.”  How can you beat that for a Valentine?  Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!


1. Go “cold turkey” for 5-7 days, say the experts, to understand the addiction you have to electronics…also called media deprivation.
2. Structure several hours a week at work for “thinking time” without any interruptions from devices and email.
3. Create “no device” policies at your meetings and during dinnertime.
4. Create “no technology zones” in your home or apartment.
5. Leave your smartphone, iPad, laptop and other devices outside the bedroom.

6. Take car trips with a “no device” rule so you have time to talk and tell stories……good relationships are based on this intimacy.  

7. Create a “technology-free day” each week and spend it trying new activities, going to museums, playing board games, pulling out old pictures, and sharing time with your family and friends.  

8. Teach your children, nieces, and nephews games to play and projects that don’t involve technology.  

9. Limit your kids’ access to technology, just as First Lady Michelle Obama does, to a few hours each day or week and spend time with them baking, playing sports, going for hikes, or just talking.

10. Have someone else (colleague, friend, partner) monitor your emails for the time you unplug if you are worried about emergency emails or calls. They can reach you or handle the issue themselves.

You will find co-author Catherine Allen’s up-coming article, Coming Unplugged, on our blog as soon as it is published.  We have also written about this topic in Reboot Your Life and The Artist’s Way at Work. Stay tuned for our new book on pre-retirement planning to read more!