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.
5 thoughts on “Screen-free Sunday”
This is such a wonderful idea. I am NEVER away from the Internet, especially since I got a smartphone. I would love to do this but I worry about caveats eg today I might miss an urgent email from my grant administrator, or I might need to look something up in order to get somewhere…. I guess organization to have one day a week screen-free is the key. Great post! I felt relaxed just reading it. Admittedly on a screen!
This sounds great – I worry for myself that I would always make exceptions eg my grant administrator might email me urgently, etc, but I guess planning could just take care of this. Even reading this post (admittedly on a screen) was relaxing.
See – my theory is that things can just wait 24 hours. It’s only 24hrs, it’s only once a week. I’ll be honest, I am more likely to make it a day when I don’t need to get somewhere – but even if I do, I just look up the instructions the night before.
Totally recommend trying it at least once – just to see how it feels 🙂
I imagine that pulling this off is substantially more difficult in cities where public libraries and buses are closed on Sundays.
Sorry for the delay in responding here. In what way do you think it would be more challenging in those instances? I’m aware of a certain degree of luxury in being able to afford books and having the required ID to get books from the library, but a lot of value also comes from ensuring more face-to-face time with friends and others, or just going for a walk.