On Sundays We Unplug
UPDATE: I first wrote & published this piece on my personal site. It’s been updated before reposting here.
The benefits for a day of rest are widely-known, even if the actual resting parts are not widely-practiced. Even God rested on the seventh day. From that, I don’t feel I need to pitch the benefits of resting one day a week. By resting, I don’t mean being lazy. It means abstaining from work and chores and all that jazz. It means focusing on things I enjoy.
My journey to Sundays off started several years ago, sporadic at first but eventually becoming a hard rule when I knew I was on to something. After a few weeks, I was happy with my new rule, when I read this article about taking a Tech Sabbath. What the hell, I thought. I could try it out.
The first couple weeks, frankly, were tough. Digital detoxes always are, I’m sure. But after adjusting, I found myself looking forward to unplugging, even with my deep love for technology. Weeks where I find myself having to work on a Sunday, or even using my iPad? I notice the difference.
What does it do?
Unplugging keeps me from working.
Being a human living in America and a business owner means I am always on some device. On rare Sundays, when I still get on a device, I find myself gravitating to work. I can’t help it. It’s picking up my iPad to read something, then quickly checking my email, then adding something to my task list, then before I know it, I’m working on a project. I don’t end up going down this road if I don’t start on the path to begin with.
Unplugging provides focus.
Obviously, I’m all for technology. But I also believe that we run a real risk of becoming too distracted by our devices. Forcing myself to unplug for a day brings me back to focus. My brain, essentially, gets a break. On Mondays, I find myself refreshed and with more ideas and I wake up ready to kick some butt.
Unplugging makes me creative.
Reading. Writing. Sewing. Coloring. I like all of these things, but I don’t find myself doing them during the week. My brain shifts gears Sunday mornings; without the pings of Twitter and Facebook and the glow of an iPad, my creativity spikes. I sleep in, and I wake up knowing my entire day is to recharge. I’m relaxed, and my brain just…regroups.
How do you do it?
This is one post I don’t have to go into how to do it. You just do. I can tell you it’s not easy. The extent to which you conduct your own day of rest is up to you. I’m still available by phone and text. I glance at my email notifications but try not to read them if I can help it. I really work to keep my phone away. Again, at first? This was TOUGH. Now, again, I look forward to it.
I will, however, give three pieces of advice…
It will take some time
Start slow. Remove one device. Abstain from one social network. You’ll probably feel some separation anxiety, and if you do “cheat,” forgive yourself. This is supposed to be about REST, not guilt.
If you’re going off the grid, let somebody know.
I’m available by phone or text, that’s it. If e-mail isn’t an option, I make sure people know that. This isn’t just a safety point, but I believe communication is important. It’s not fair to your colleagues for you if you’re always able to be reached to switch it up with no warning.
*NEW* Prepare for Mondays
I’m adding this section as I update this post. Taking a day off and opening up your social media or news sites on Mondays can be overwhelming. As I write this, it is Monday, and while I wasn’t totally away from news, I missed a few things. This morning, as I sat on the train as part of my daily commute and opened my Twitter feed for the first time since Saturday night, I had your generic “WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE?” moment catching up. I find it empowering on Sundays to know that while the world hasn’t stopped, I have. But that perk can end with a jolt on Mondays when you return to the world. Know it will happen, and know that even amid your shock, you’ve given yourself a break.
It’s been a few years of unplugging on Sundays — there ARE some Sundays I don’t, but they are rare and unwelcome. Everyone in my circle knows that you won’t get me by social media or email on Sundays, and they adjusted just fine. It wasn’t overnight, but it was right on time.