Sometimes You Need To Just Unplug – Wicked Productivity

by Robb Sutton

A weird thing happened to me on Wednesday morning. My hard drive failed in my MacBook Pro. And when I say “failed”, I really mean my MBP attempted flight from 5 feet only to find a crash landing with my stone tile in the kitchen. Luckily…a little bent case and a failed HD was the only damage and that is what they make backups for right?! One call into and I had a shinny new 320 gig, 7200 rpm drive on the way overnight. Now…I do have a backup tower that hangs out in my office closet, but instead of panicking…I just unpluged for 48 hours (spent last night doing the restore process).

After about 10 minutes worth of being “unplugged”, I was driving my self crazy. Just because my computer is turned off crashed, does not mean my brain takes a hike with it as well. Just like any business owner, the gears keep on turning with ideas and plans for the future. Since I did not have my digital world to rely on for idea absorption…I had to turn to my trusty pen and yellow pad of paper.

To my surprise…I became wicked productive! As I continued to write down post ideas, plans for the future, development for clothing lines and other off site activities, the ideas just kept flowing! My hand actually started getting tired from the speed and pure amount of words I was throwing down on the page.

What happens when you unplug

Every now and then, it is a great idea to “unplug” and separate yourself from your online world to really get the creativity flowing. Often times, we rely so much on our digital products that we forget how distracting they can be during times of creative bliss. When you are sitting in front of a blank piece of paper and only your thoughts, you have zero distractions in your pursuit to plan out your online life and business. There are no IM screens popping up, no email chimes, absolutely nothing that will derail what you are ultimately trying to accomplish.

As you continue down the path of this extreme productivity, new ideas are going to form bred off of other great ideas. It becomes an infectious disease as you continue to throw down content ideas and long term goals. Your mind is focused with only one goal at hand…getting thoughts out of your head and onto paper. With each great post idea or long term goal, it spreads and creates more incredible ideas.

After 1 hour and 6 fully filled pages, I have post ideas, marketing plans and off site promotions set all the way through 1st quarter next year! Are there going to be ideas that come up during the process that will need to be added? I am counting on it. Are there ideas on the pages that I may not go with in favor of something else that comes up? You can bet on it…business is all about adapting to changing needs. However, I can promise you that you will never hear me complain that I have run out of ideas or that I have come across a case of writers block because it is all there in black and yellow.

As you start to plan out the processes that bounce around in your cranium throughout the day…find a quiet place to unload all of those thoughts onto paper. Not only will you have all of your ideas down for easy reference, but your stress load will also decrease due to the new amount of real estate in your head. The more you try to just remember your thoughts…the more stress and problems you are going to create for yourself in the long run.


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Srinivas Rao December 11, 2009 - 11:03 am


I love the idea of unplugging for enhancing creativity. For me, I usually just go surfing and when I get out of the water I have about a dozen different ideas for blog posts, marketing concepts, and much more.

Robb Sutton December 11, 2009 - 11:09 am

My best ideas have always hit me while I am ripping up singletrack in the middle of the woods on some mountain. Something incredibly inspiring about really pushing yourself and only hearing nature around you.

Darni December 11, 2009 - 8:26 pm

I’m the oppsite of you.I find myself have more inpiration when I write with my computer.Remember when in my high school,it’s very difficult for me to write something with a pen and a paper.Since when I go to the university,I rarely write articles with pen and paper.I have a blog of my own now.Thanks to the computer.Without it I can’t generate so many articles and put them on my blog from time to time.

Robb Sutton December 12, 2009 - 8:20 am

It is really all about finding a system that works for you. I rarely…if ever…actually write articles with pen and paper. It is always one liner ideas that eventually get done on a computer screen.

Mike Crimmins December 11, 2009 - 8:43 pm

One of the reasons that I was debating going home to my parents for Christmas is because it would mean some down time for a few days. They have a dialup and I usually don’t want to do anything more than check my email on that. But as I was reading your article, I remembered that during that downtime last Christmas, I ended up planning out the start to my Yankees blog. The blog really never went anywhere, but the amount of ideas and reading that I got done that week were amazing. Even if I don’t go up there, I might spend some time away from the computer this holiday break.

Robb Sutton December 12, 2009 - 8:19 am

People still have dial-up?!! I have found that away from the computer…you start thinking about want you want to get accomplished over what you need to get accomplished. Much like you did. Thanks for sharing that Mike!

Chad December 11, 2009 - 11:21 pm

Unplugging to boost your creativity or even productivity is a great practice to get into. It’s so easy to get caught up in the many things (email, IM, blogs, etc) that the interwebs make available.
Some distraction-free time has always worked well for me.
Great post.

Robb Sutton December 12, 2009 - 8:18 am

There was a time that I thought I was just as efficient plugged in…until I tried other offline methods and realized how much of my “productive time” was getting eaten up by unproductive activities. Typically it is a email bing or something of that nature that derails thought processes.

The Importance of Quiet Alone Time for Entrepreneurs December 12, 2009 - 6:31 am

[…] Sutton just wrote an article on this topic titled Sometimes You Need to Just Unplug – Wicked Productivity, where he talks about how productive he became when he was forced to slow down after his MacBook […]

Paul Piotrowski December 12, 2009 - 6:38 am

It’s funny how when we don’t make time for “downtime”, we end up creating it somehow even if it means dropping a laptop or getting sick or something of that nature.

Since leaving the corporate rat race behind last year I’ve been making more and more time for “quiet time” and I too have had my best ideas during such times.

Great article.

Robb Sutton December 12, 2009 - 8:17 am

Thanks Paul! You are absolutely right. I think it is way too easy to keep that rat race going even out of the corporate arena. We have been so conditioned to race time that things get lost in the shuffle.

Aqif December 12, 2009 - 12:01 pm


I really adore your idea to unplug yourself which it can creates a lot of spectrum for your creativity and productivity for your next blog post, perhaps.

I do face some major problems that affect my online world. When it happens, I quickly turned off my laptop and do some offline activity and most of the time it gave me a lot of inspiration and ideas to write blog post for my readers.

Superb POST ROBB! 🙂

Christoph December 17, 2009 - 5:56 pm

I have 1 hour marked out in my calendar every morning. Somewhere between 10 and 11 I leave the desk and go running for an hour. For one it keeps me fit and healthy and second my mind goes crazy during that time. I either drop everything and my brain just relaxes or I am thinking through ideas, projects, stuff like that. I have been so much productive since then.

Another thing is to set your phone or Blackberry or iPhone to silent. Unless I am expecting an important call I let everything go to voicemail. I can filter out messages and ignore people I do not want to talk to. Life’s good.


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