Rewind to one and a half years ago: I had just timidly switched off all my screens for 24 hours for the very first time as I wanted to incorporate “screen free” episodes in my life.
My relationship with technology is best described as obsessive. I never met a screen or an app I didn’t like. Switching everything off seemed crazy and the mere thought gave me separation anxiety. Yet, I wanted to give it a shot.
I had watched this video where Tiffany Shlain, founder of the Webby Awards, talked about her Tech Shabbats. A weekly ritual, where Tiffany would turn off her screens from Friday night to Saturday night. She called them her “resets for the soul” and I was scared — and intrigued! It helped that she was a respected figure in tech and not a random person, overwhelmed by the possibilities of today’s technology. What she said carried weight.
It’s been one and a half years and the weekly Tech Shabbats have become a habit. It’s just something I do. Every Friday night at sundown my screens go dark. My smartphone, my laptop, my tablet. No Facebook updates, no Instagram photos, no tweets, no emoji-based conversations on Whatsapp, Threema, Google Hangout.
It’s pretty drastic.
Often really inconvenient. (Have you tried to find an address without Google Maps in the past 8 years?)
Sometimes a bit annoying. (Especially to those around you who are used to changing plans on the fly, with a text message.)
But I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world. My weekly disconnect.
I vividly remember the first time. I nearly broke into a sweat. Would I miss something? Would I miss EVERYTHING? I distracted myself with aimless activities. Hair needed to be braided. Makeup brushes needed to be cleaned. By Saturday morning I was convinced that I would die if I didn’t immediately switch everything back on. (You think this sounds like the workings of a teenager’s brain? It felt like it too!)
But I learned to appreciate the weekly habit. Felt refreshed. Gained clarity. If I had hit a wall with a business problem in the previous week, during my Tech Shabbat, the solution often presented itself in those screen free hours. It was a bit spooky at first. Now I practically count on it.
Because it makes perfect sense.
We are rarely in situations anymore where we rely only on ourselves. Moments of reflection, quiet, and, God forbid: boredom are scarce. When do “heavy screen users” like I clearly am (and you probably are) just sit down and stare aimlessly into space? How long can a glimmer of a thought develop before we scare it away with a distraction? When do we allow ourselves to be a little bored without immediately resorting to our routine refresh tour-de-force through all our apps?
Now those moments of reflection and quiet are a normal part of my week.
It’s a bit of an acquired taste — like the taste for oysters. But those 24 hours every week work for me. And maybe they work for you too.
If you’d like to try it and are scared I want to remind you that I was basically beside myself. You can do it too!
And I can promise one thing: It’s worth it even just for the joy of switching everything back on again!
Why don’t you try it once and see how it goes?
– Katja Bartholmess. “It’s my passion to inspire and motivate other ambitious women with my stories and experiences from over a decade of entrepreneurship.”