In July, I read “24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week” by Tiffany Shlain.
You can read all my thoughts on the book here. I checked out this book at my library because I knew I had an addiction to my phone or to social media — whatever it was, it wasn’t good.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that I turn to mindless scrolling on my phone when I feel anxious or when I don’t want to complete a task.
I have also had moments where vast chunks of time have passed, and all I’ve done is sit and stare at my phone (doing nothing productive). Not only have I wasted time I can’t get back, but I have no clue what happened around me during that time.
Not to be morbid, but when I’m reaching the final moments of my life, the LAST thing I’m going to wish for is that I’d spent more time on my stupid phone.
It was time for a change.
How I Planned for 24 Hours of Screen-free Life
After reading Shlain’s book, I quickly adopted her idea of turning off screens for 24 hours one day each week — she calls it a “Tech Shabbat.”
I started by picking my day: Sunday.
Then, I informed family and friends that I wouldn’t be available via phone/text/etc. Shlain has a landline for her Tech Shabbats, which I may adopt later, but for now, it’s no phone for me.
Next, I wrote a list (using an actual pen and paper) of things I might want to do during my Tech Shabbat. I knew i wanted to cook, using a recipe from a physical cookbook — not anything online!
I also planned to listen to vinyls, read, and rest, and if I really wanted to, I could always get things done around the apartment.
What Tech Shabbats Feel Like
The first Tech Shabbat I had, I remember feeling a little anxious when I woke up. But then I realized there was nothing to be afraid of!
I made a grocery list using a pen and paper and went to the store. It was nice to be present while shopping and buying ingredients for a meal I wanted to make.
I listened to vinyl while I cooked, and I realized I had records in my collection that I’d never even opened!
I napped, I read, and eventually, I got to eat the meal I made. I did notice the generally quiet, but it wasn’t scary — it felt freeing.
I’ve had several Tech Shabbats since that first one, and I usually cook something that will give me leftovers for the week.
I also usually sleep in, and there’s almost always a nap.
I read, color, journal, listen to the radio (I have an actual radio I bought from Goodwill), and tend to my garden. I also spend quality time with my cat, Blanche! She loves Tech Shabbats 🙂
What I’ve Learned From Tech Shabbats
I’ve learned tons of stuff over these weeks of having Tech Shabbats, but here are some of the main takeaways for me:
- I get much better sleep. The very first Tech Shabbat I had, I could NOT believe how much my sleep improved. On Monday, I felt more rested than I had in years, and I was ready to tackle the day.
- My tech usage affects my stress levels. My life hasn’t exactly been easy these past few months, and I’m trying my best to keep my stress at a minimum. As much as I want to turn to my phone or social media when I want to check out, it hurts me.
- There’s so much I can or can not do in one day. In 2021, I stuffed my days with so much work I was physically sick. Since the start of the year, I’ve been trying to maintain a balance and not work myself to death. Tech Shabbats show me that it’s okay not to “be productive” in the typical sense. Instead, I can fill my days with rest, cooking, or having fun without guilt.
- Being quiet isn’t terrifying. I am constantly shoving content into my brain during the week via podcasts, radio shows, TV, blogs, etc. I’ve gotten so used to the constant noise that the idea of having quiet time was a little scary. But it’s actually lovely and very calming.
- My mind needs rest, too. I am always focused on giving my body rest but don’t often think about my mind. My eyes, my mind, my thoughts — all of it just needs to chill!
- I don’t need to be available 24/7. I don’t have demanding friends or family, and I don’t have a job. But I’m guilty of falling into that trap of checking my phone and email all the time when… it can all wait.
How to Take Tech Shabbat Lessons into the Rest of the Week
After I got a few successful Tech Shabbats under my belt, I wanted to implement some boundaries into the other six days of the week.
The main thing for me is social media and phone usage.
So, I put time limits on my social media apps and set up the “Downtime” feature on my phone. This creates an automatic schedule based on your needs.
For me, I set it to stop sending me notifications (on anything) past 9:15pm so I could wind down without tech.
Every week, my phone sends me a screen time report, and I was appalled when I looked at it. I was spending 6-8 hours on my phone A DAY.
Once I saw that (and registered that into my brain), I am working on being mindful when I pick up my phone. Is there something I really need to use it for?
Since starting these efforts, I’ve reduced my phone screen time by 40% — and I haven’t missed out on life, a job opportunity, or anything extraordinary.
I know a Tech Shabbat may not be feasible for everyone for one reason or another, but if the idea of it interests you, I recommend giving it a try!
People have asked me how I deal with people getting mad that I’m unavailable on Sundays. Well, for one, I am available on Sundays, just not via cell phone or social media, or email 🙂
But also, you have to put yourself first. I must fill my cup first, so I need a real break!
If you’re thinking this is only possible because I’m single and childless, Shlain is a mom and a wife and her entire family participates in Tech Shabbats. It can be done!
Anyway, I am enjoying my Tech Shabbats and am on the lookout for other books with tips for reducing unnecessary tech use.
Have you ever taken a tech break?
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