Take a Day Off From Tech

I hereby declare my first No-Tech Sunday a success! After hemming and hawing, resisting and justifying … I did it. Saturday night I sent my last email and made a Facebook post (about going offline, of course!), and turned off the laptop. So that I wouldn’t forget, I stuck a Post-It on the lid announcing “NO TECH SUNDAY :)” And that was it until Monday morning.  Yes, I felt the urge to check, but I held firm.*

On my quest to re-condition my responses  (see previous post), I achieved the following positive reinforcement of my behavior:

Nipped several escalating conflicts in the bud because I was tuned into my kids instead of ignoring the warning signs and then trying to recover after things got completely out of hand.

Slept better and longer because I went to bed earlier.

Read my laugh-out-loud funny book (Richard Russo’s Straight Man) in bed for a half hour instead of checking email.

Reduced guilt-feelings. It felt good to honor my values of family and being present.

And, perhaps most important:

The realization that I DIDN’T MISS ANYTHING IMPORTANT. When I finally checked after 32 hours offline, I felt a mixture of disappointment and relief to find that remarkably little had happened, and nothing that couldn’t wait.

It also turns out that I was probably doing my brain a favor, as well.  In Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain, technology writer Matt Richtel reported on a group of neuroscientists who deliberately took a no-technology vacation to think and talk about the way the brain works when allowed to unplug from the myriad digital devices that dominate their existence.  (I’d like to see the grant proposal to fund that particular research junket!) In a more recent article in the series, Richtel reported on UCSF researchers’ findings that the brain needs rest time

Keeping one day tech-free is not a new idea. I used to work with a wonderful group of Orthodox Jewish lawyers, all of whom observed the sabbath and were unreachable from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. While outsiders might view this this observance  as a restriction, it was also a liberation. And though orthodoxy may have a connotation of extremism,  what I saw among my colleagues was a culture that promoted balance – a time for work, and a time for family and higher purpose. What could be bad about that?

So, in the name of balance and liberation, I am going observe my Tech Sabbath again next weekend. Who wants to join me?

*Full disclosure: I did have to turn on the computer to find the Evite with the address of the birthday party my daughter was attending, but I scrupulously avoided looking at anything else. Also used GPS to find the party.