But hey, you know it’s hurting your relationships at home and work. People have told you to your face to stop. But you just can’t. There’s always something pulling you toward that Facebook feed, that Pinterest board, then CNN for news, then TMZ (ok, you’re on your own, if that’s the case). Then once again, a vicious cycle.
Today’s the day. You have decided to “forget” your phone and other electronics, leave them be and see what happens.
It isn’t easy, let me tell you, but the best thing that has happened to me since I started roughly 7 years ago. It gives me back a solid, memorable block of time with family and friends, to reconnect, reflect, recharge, restore my “default setting,” if you will. You see, when I was 25, I started keeping Sabbath – the Jewish Sabbath, in my case. Since then, it’s literally my religion to turn off my phone and all devices from sundown on Friday for 25 hours.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Your mind will start to clear up from a fog.
Perhaps you can’t remember that last time you found yourself without a working phone or Wifi. Perhaps it was during a hike upstate, up in a plane somewhere or after drowning your iPhone. Sadly, it felt like wasted time. In fact, it was a golden opportunity you missed to rest, to write, reflect, to change things up, to feel more human.
Between the pull of business and the personal, between e-mail and fear of missing out, I’ll be the first to call myself a smartphone addict. However, when that sundown hits on Friday, I turn on “Do Not Disturb” and put the phone away. The endless whirl of tasks and people wanting my attention ceases. The constant pressure of my fear of wasting time begins to lift. My mind and thoughts turn to the Sabbath table, spending time with family. The simple act of eating – and enjoying dinner – with my wife and daughter, sometimes friends is wonderful and human and refreshing. Wine flows, we eat amazing food. Nobody’s in a rush somewhere. When someone asks you how you are, you really take the time to think, reflect and answer thoughtfully. You start remembering just how important family is, how precious your time is with them and friends.
2. You’ll get to infuse your life with novelty again.
The week is all about the auto-pilot. Wake up, then brush your teeth, jump in the subway, get to work, check email, send your updates, then have lunch, back out for coffee around 3 PM, then home at 5 (or later). Once you get home, its not long until you go to bed! And in between, you sneak in Facebook, Pinterest (and TMZ, G-d help you).
Saturday morning, I wake up whenever, no alarm. I spend the best time with my family, eating breakfast, catching up, playing with my daughter, reading a book I’ve long abandoned, a new magazine. We see the people that we really like – people that like us back, invite us over often, plus new faces. One family gave birth this week, a son. Another’s kid is now engaged. Somebody else got honored at their job.
We celebrate the good, reflect on bad things happening and try to make sense of them, leaving with actionable wisdom we can use throughout the week and year. We take a walk. There is a gorgeous garden on the way back home. Imagine everything you are missing in the world around you!
3. You’ll notice your senses will revive.
Being busy is easy throughout the week. The weekend can be packed, as well, visiting bars and restaurants, flea markets, brunch, whatever. That pull of being connected is still there. You still can’t focus on the awesome dish you ordered – here’s a text! The wine’s aroma is not quite the same – Mom’s calling!
The simple fact of being away from my devices makes me pause and focus on the food and drink and people right before me, their ideas, my own. I stop, reflect, try to make sense of all the madness going on around me. It puts the busy-ness to rest. Because I can’t be bothered by an email or call or buzz or ring, I start remembering the times when I was young and unconnected. This brings me back to NOW, not the next thing today, tomorrow or next week or month. I like the smell of coffee, tossing an idea around, maybe to read a book together with my daughter, horse around with funny faces, sounds, language constructions or whatever else just comes to mind.
4. You’ll see that time will start to slow down.
The Sabbath is no longer than another day. But when you step away and don’t let others push their emails and demands on you, the time just stretches.
Taking a day off from the rat race – and its long tentacles through technology – brings me back to my original, childhood state for a day. I can laugh and read books I like and have long conversations about things that are really interesting to me without feeling guilty that I’m wasting precious time. I pack so much into those daylight hours on Friday night and Saturday that it makes me wonder why the weekdays seem so short, in comparison.
5. You’ll have a fuller and more meaningful because of rest.
I can’t emphasize how critical taking one day off is for having a productive week. The rest of the week is that much more filled and productive because I can’t work and move things forward (except in my mind) on the Sabbath.
Since I’ve started keeping the Sabbath, the paradigm has flipped on its head. I don’t do Sabbath to make for a more fulfilling week. I do a fulfilling week so I can do the Sabbath properly. Because there’s seemingly less time when I have to take off a day, it makes me more eager to accomplish more during the rest of week and I do!
6. You’ll forget the week’s stresses.
Hello, sleep! Byebye, red, tired eyes. Byebye, ADD. Byebye, guilt. Today, I rest and all of life’s stresses can go fly a kite. Maybe I’ll go fly a kite, myself!
In all seriousness, just taking a nap in the middle of the day after lunch can totally change your week by letting you catch up from those nights with too little sleep. It will really, truly recharge your batteries and give you amazing energy to tackle whatever your issues are with a renewed strength and resolve.
7. You’ll regain purpose in life and remember the reasons why you’re working like a dog through the rest of the week.
It’s not just for your career advancement, more money, more recognition, more stuff you can buy. It’s for your family, for humanity, for your growth and development as a human being. You have a mission in life – to improve the human condition in your particular, unique way. You want great experiences in your life, not just more stuff. A day off from the pressures of the outside world helps you to return to your roots as a human being – not just a cog in some machine.
8. You’ll have a chance to stop and understand what you’re doing wrong.
Without distractions from work or friends and family, you have a rare chance to do some soul-searching and understand what needs fixing. The acknowledgement and calling a spade, a spade is the first step to lasting change for the better.
How many times did I have a really bad week and then because of the Sabbath mindset, found a way to move the needle forward on one problem or another? Simply changing my routine a day often uncovered novel solutions or ideas from people I met or a new book or article I read – because I had time and opportunity for it. Breaking my routine and seeing my problems in a different light has been invaluable to transforming myself for the better.
9. You’ll notice improvement in physical and mental health.
Taking the time to cook dinner properly, being surrounded by people you love, ample sleep and real stress relief all have a measurable positive effect on your physical health and mental well-being. Unplugging helps me keep my sanity, focus better, get more down time, plus good food and time with people I enjoy. The rest is commentary.
10. You’ll be more likely to get to work on improving yourself.
This has a tangible difference in pushing you forward after the time you’ve had to rest, reflect and come in contact with new ideas, people and strategies for improvement. You’ll be like a lion rearing to go because you won’t want to go back to being the same person you were a day before. This is how you change things for the better, week after week, regardless of whatever setbacks the week brought you.