I forgot how much I like it. How freeing I find closing my laptop on Saturday evening, putting my phone aside, and drifting off to sleep, knowing I shall not look at either again until Monday morning.
You see – as much as I like being part of a huge connected world – I like time to myself. Time to think, reflect, and feel. I find the time that I’m actively disconnected is peaceful; much more peaceful than the time when I just happen not to be online. I think better and bigger. I seem to have more space in my mind for thoughts, and being offline helps me concentrate on the world around me more, because I don’t have a thought process running in the back of my head wondering about the latest news story, or what someone has said in response to an online conversation.
I love the excuse Screen-free Sunday gives me to put down tasks and distracting thoughts. I’m half thinking about that email I need to write? Well, I can’t do it today, so I just dismiss the thoughts – and I find it much easier to do that than if there is no real impediment to me responding. There’s a research project in the back of my mind? Well I’ll just make a note of what I want to look up, and leave it until tomorrow.
This leaves me more energy to throw into the offline world. I spend time reading, walking, and seeing friends. Or thinking. Or doing little tasks that I mean to do daily – before I get pulled into a world of links and ever incoming thoughts from others. Because I turn off the radio as well (and don’t have a TV), I find that Screen-free Sunday gives me time when I’m not being inundated with other peoples opinions; giving me better opportunity to make my own.
When I wake up on the Sunday, I find the first few hours oddly empty but soothing, and it’s not until mid morning that I find myself feeling ever so slightly anxious. Luckily, as long as I’ve prepared a bit the night before (such as making sure I have pulled any recipes from the Internet) – this unease disappears quickly, leaving my time to lose myself somewhere.
And this Sunday I lost myself in a book. It’s been a long time since I gave myself enough time to read a book in an entire sitting. And I enjoyed having the opportunity to do so with something so wonderfully written as ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’.
I also took the time to write a letter by hand – something I hadn’t done for years. But with a grandmother who doesn’t use technology, it’s something I ought to do more often.
The day passed at a seemingly much slower rate than my online days. There seemed so much time and space. And when I went to bed, I was peaceful in a way that I rarely am: my brain an odd mix of totally relaxed and fully alert.
And 24 hours later I still feel reasonably refreshed after the break I took. I’ve been reminded of the choice to be online, rather than seeing it as an expectation or requirement. And for that I’m grateful. It’s something I find very easy to forget.
And I’m also grateful to Doug Belshaw for reminding me (ironically via a tweet) of my love for Screen-free Sunday. And I’m already looking forward to the next one.