The term Email Sabbatical describes the act of taking time off from checking Email, sometimes to the extreme of sending all E-mail sent during the sabbatical to the trash during the duration of the sabbatical. Email sabbaticals are intended to allow one to take an actual vacation away from both physical and mental obligations. The concept of an E-mail Sabbatical has been around since people had inboxes, especially those in early tech and academia.
Researcher and anthropologist danah boyd is known to take yearly Email sabbaticals. During her sabbaticals, all E-mail sent to her account automatically goes into the trash and all senders get an automated warning from her account.
In an interview with Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing,  boyd explained that communication is the most important thing when planning an E-mail sabbatical. She points out that whenever she does one, she makes sure to let her contacts know well beforehand so that there are no surprises. She also makes sure to have emergency backup plans in case people do need to get in touch with her.
While the research is just beginning, preliminary results show that memory is increased, stress levels are reduced, and productivity increases the more we stay disconnected from the Web. In the past, we used to take some down-time to relax or meditate, maybe now we just need to put down the laptop and cell phone for a little while. (put into article named reflection)
A recent article in the New York Times discusses the effect on the brain from remaining constantly connected. As many people become increasingly entangled with technology, the importance of a digital downtime becomes greater, yet more difficult to accomplish.
- boyd, danah. I Am Offline on Email Sabbatical From December 9 to January 12. Zephoria.org. http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2010/12/08/i-am-offline-on-email-sabbatical-from-december-9-january-12.html
- danah boyd explains email sabbaticals. Cory Doctorow at 2:04 AM Thursday, Dec 9, 2010. http://www.boingboing.net/2010/12/09/danah-boyd-explains.html
- Richtel, Matt. Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain. Published August 2010. Accessed Jan 2011. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/16/technology/16brain.html