Screen-free Sunday

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

  1. 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!

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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 🙂

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  4. I imagine that pulling this off is substantially more difficult in cities where public libraries and buses are closed on Sundays.

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    1. 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.

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