Tech Shabbat. Why don’t you switch off

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?

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– Katja Bartholmess. “It’s my passion to inspire and motivate other ambitious women with my stories and experiences from over a decade of entrepreneurship.”

Balance the “balls of life”

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them — work, family, health, friends and spirit — and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

The former CEO of Coca Cola, Brian Dyson, said this.

It rang so true with us that we needed to share it with you. Looking at the things that matter to us with a heightened awareness of their fragility (family, health, friends, and spirit) and resilience (work) might help us make better decisions. We will never have less on our plates and balance is never easy to achieve. But why don’t your try it with us?

Why don’t you try Morning Pages?

Morning Pages. Have you heard of them?

On first blush they are pages that you write in the morning. Easy enough.

The deeper purpose of writing them — three pages, pen on paper, every day — is to clear your mind of the thoughts and things that would otherwise follow you through your day.

It’s not about writing anything nice or coherent. The more you let go of your inner censor and just write whatever crosses the mind, the better. Also, the faster. (While these morning pages do take time — 30 minutes of your precious morning hours! — you don’t want to write them well into the afternoon.)

The woman who created the morning pages, Julia Cameron, says: “People think they should be artful, but no, they should be as grumpy and as petty as you feel waking up.”

She describes it as a clearing exercise that allows you to move through your day more consciously. A balancing exercise that makes room for creative thinking, creative problem solving, creative creativity.

Are you sold? Why don’t you try it? Write three pages in the morning tomorrow and see where it goes? — And if you’re an avid morning pager already, why don’t you share your experience. We’re all ears!

Breathe your nerves away

Does your heart tends to quicken or do you feel a tinge of anxiety before it’s your turn to speak or to start a presentation?

Why don’t you try this calming breathing technique:

  1. Sit tall and comfortably; you can do this anywhere
  2. You can close your eyes but you don’t have to; just assume an easy gaze
  3. Inhale evenly to the count of two, hold your breath for a count of one
  4. Exhale evenly to the count of four, hold your breath for a count of one
  5. Repeat for a couple of minutes

Making your exhale longer than your inhale affects your nervous system. It turns down your sympathetic system that controls your fight or flight impulses and turns up your parasympathic system, helping you to relax and calm down. Pretty neat, no?

Exercise your Brain

Turns out that taking a walk is not only a great idea in general, it also improves brain power and creativity.

But don’t take our word for it: A Standford study probed into a connection between walking and creativity and is giving it the big thumbs up. The people who participated in the study walked on treadmills as well as outside and were given a series of creative challenges.

The result: Walking greatly increased creativity. Participants were about 60 percent more creative and came up with ideas that were both “novel and appropriate.”

Well, we think that the most gorgeous part of a woman is her brain. So let’s go!

Power Naps for Power Ladies

Do you believe in naps?

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer took a heavily publicized nap while the world’s biggest advertisers were waiting for her and Cara Delevingne dozed right through a Vogue interview. We run on 5 to 6 hours of sleep and were VERY intrigued by this article’s notion that Power Women take Power Naps.

What about you? Do you nap? Do you think naps should be as respectable as lunch time workouts?