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Tips & Tricks for Cultivating an Unplugged Lifestyle.



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







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At the end of May 2021, I set out to complete a challenge: 1,000 unplugged hours in under 365 days. Taking on this challenge was one of the best things I could do for myself: mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. If you want to take the challenge yourself, you can find all the details here.

I’ve watched so many of you embark on completing this challenge in your own life and I could not be more excited for what’s in store for you. Today, I wanted to scribble down some tips and tricks that have been helpful for me as I navigate beyond 1,000 unplugged hours. I’d love for you to let me know in the comments what you’re learning in your own unplugged journey!

001. It’s a constant practice

I’ll admit, when I finished my Unplugged Hours Challenge, I went on a phone bender. I spent more hours on my phone than I could have ever anticipated and I watched all the nauseating habits come seeping back into my life.

I’m not ashamed to admit that the bad habits came racing back with a vengeance because their sneaky presence taught me a few things:

For one, it showed me that unplugging is a constant discipline— there is no point where you can coast on autopilot. I have to consistently plan to be unplugged if I want to continue to cultivate that lifestyle.

I know now that I thrive and am my healthiest self when I am following routines and rhythms.

After my unplugged challenge finished, we were thrust into a few weeks of travel and then a week of COVID. All my rhythms and routines were off. I knew that once I could fight my way back to the smallest of small rhythms, the unplugged hours would surge back too.

I had to give myself grace for the newer rhythms I’d cultivated (like unplugging) and realize it’s okay if I don’t get it all right, all the time. I’m a messy work in progress and I’m realizing I’m okay with it.

I am proud of how aware of myself I am now and aware of what I need and when I need it. I can tell instantly when I am spending too much time plugged in. I know what my spirit needs and I know how to fix it. It takes so much less time to switch gears and get back to myself because of this newfound awareness.

002. This challenge takes planning.

If you don’t plan for it, it likely won’t happen. Hopefully, this nugget of wisdom encourages someone who is struggling to start unplugging. Your lack of planning might be the thing that’s holding you back.

On the days when I time-blocked my unplugged hours and planned ahead, the hours happened effortlessly. On the days when I just told myself 10,000 times that I needed to unplug at some point that day, it rarely happened.

The same was true for weekends. If I planned in advance to power down for the Sabbath, I could let people know my phone would be off, I could put up an auto responder, and I could plan ahead and ensure that things would go smoothly.

Like all good things— we have to plan and make space for what matters most to us.

If you are struggling to get the hours in, take a look at your day ahead of time (maybe even the night before). Ask yourself, “For what parts of my day do I want to be unplugged?”

I knew I wanted to be unplugged for these times:

  • Quiet time in the morning

  • Waking up Novi + getting her ready for the day

  • Pockets of deep work

  • During dinner with the family

  • After hours- spending quality time with Lane

I know each of these pockets of time is more fruitful when my phone is not around. I had to get to the point of setting non-negotiable boundaries for myself. The more I did so, the easier it became to unplug seamlessly.

003. Cultivate some passions.

When I first started unplugging, I felt like I had these gaping holes of time that felt un-fillable. For so long, I’d used my phone for downtime. It was my go-to when I had a spare moment in the day. In the past, I might have picked up a hobby but my phone had become my hobby. If you feel this way, don’t freak out. There’s a simple way to start to change this feeling.

Make a list of all the things you want to do. Not the things you “have” to do, but the things you desire. My list included things like:

  • Read more novels

  • Engage in more quiet time

  • Go for prayer walks

  • Print photos + make a photo album

  • Frame artwork

  • Declutter

  • Write more cards + letters

  • Take a course in an area I’m passionate about

Whenever I would turn off my phone, I would reference my list and tell myself, “You can do anything you want on that list. Just begin.”

It’s not that you don’t have hobbies or things you want to do— you just might need to brainstorm them. We’ve become SO programmed to reach for the phone in a moment of downtime that we honestly aren’t sure what to do when the screen shuts off.

This is an invitation to dig deeper and ask yourself: what would I do if I had more time?

You have the time… you just need to allocate it better.

004. Stop shaming yourself.

If you’re constantly allowing the Unplugged Challenge to taunt you at every turn, you’re missing the point. You don’t have to do this challenge, you get to. It’s an opportunity for growth, peace, and joy. You don’t have to perform it perfectly. Like I always say: perfection is not the goal, progress is.

A lot of times, when we take on a challenge, we go in with a fail/succeed mindset. Let’s scrap that mindset for a second and just think about it: What would you gain by unplugging more often? What is currently not working in your life that you want to change?

I finished my challenge of 1,000 hours in 365 days but I had a few moments where I wondered if I would. In those moments, I had to take a step back and realize: Hannah, you’ve grown so much. Whether you finish at 900 hours or 980 hours, each hour is a small and important step toward the lifestyle you wanted to cultivate. You already are a success.

Every hour you stay unplugged is an hour closer to the reality you’re trying to build. Celebrate the small victories. Enjoy the challenge. Learn from the times when unplugging doesn’t happen so seamlessly. Marvel at how the little stuff adds up. Don’t “should” all over yourself.

The reality is that you’re an adult- you can spend as much or as little time on your phone as you want. But if you feel like you’re phone is stealing from you— stealing joy, stealing peace, stealing moments, stealing hours— then it’s on you to make adjustments. Non-emotional, matter-of-fact adjustments. No one can do the work for you and that’s a beautiful realization because the work is what transforms you.

You’re strong enough. You’re capable. You can do this- one hour at a time.

I’d love to hear from you:

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.


  1. Debra M. says:

    Loved this Hannah! Currently on my unplugged journey and it has been life-giving. Thank you for all the inspiration!

  2. Chrisfina says:

    So good!

  3. Amy says:

    I think I found this at the right time! I spent so much time staring at my phone yesterday and afterwards felt grumpy and frustrated and it was all due to what I had been staring at for the last hour. It was exhausting! In creating my blocks of hours unplugged, I want to be unplugged just about 24/7! There’s so many small, yet important, moments missed sometimes due to staring at my phone. I’m so tired of it. Thank you for bringing an awareness to this and providing a helpful program towards habit-breaking! Looking forward to this “challenge”!!

  4. Chrissy says:

    Just like the comment below, this came at the right time in my life! I have felt God leading me to this path of being unplugged but I didn’t know exactly how to execute it so I am loving your ideas and suggestions! I’m a realtor so my phone has become my everything and has taken over my life! It’s time to set some boundaries for myself and trust God in this process!

  5. Shelly Conlon says:

    I’m been watching this blog and 1000 hours from afar for a while now. July 1 will be my start date. Thank you for the inspiration to unplug and enjoy the graces that flow from now having my head in my phone all the time.

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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