Sundays Unplugged

I’m all for little experiments in life to try out new things that might improve the well-being of myself and those close to me.

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Usually, these changes are motivated by a part of my life that I’m not so happy with.

For example, recently I’ve added extra exercise to the core 20 minutes morning yoga practice that’s been a daily habit for over seven years.

So now I’m also aiming for 10000 steps a day, plus most days a simple evening HIIT session called Fives – five pull ups, 10 squats, 15 press ups within a minute (resting for any of the minute remaining), done five times.

It feels good, and whilst I’ve never been a couch potato and have always walked plenty, I’m exercising more – and with greater variety – than in years.

On to this next experiment, Sundays Unplugged.

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A few days back we spoke about reading more photography books and I also have a couple of nutrition books I’m keen to read, which ties in with my aforementioned greater commitment to my health, exercise and digestive system this year.

The trouble is, I don’t have any reading slots in my day to day schedule. At least, not where I read books.

So to address this, I’ve started Sundays Unplugged.

As with most of my life these days, the premise is simple – No internet access on Sunday.

Which I hope will free up a little time for other unplugged activities like walking, making photographs, playing with the kids, and of course reading those books.

I came to this point by noticing I was checking too much online, too often.

My email, WordPress stats, Flickr, eBay (still – though not for cameras).

This largely involuntary half (un)conscious habit then extends to other things, like checking my Misfit fitness tracker app, or checking the screen of a camera after taking a picture, even though I know I got the exposure right as I was taking it. More on that one in a forthcoming post.

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Back to Sundays Unplugged and here are my first thoughts after my debut Sunday – 

  • I didn’t touch my MacBook or iPad and only checked my phone when it pinged with a new (text) message. Which wasn’t often.
  • I find it much easier to give up something completely (like going cold turkey) than try to restrict myself to a small amount.
  • I liked not thinking about when and how to find time to “catch up” with stuff online. I didn’t realise the kind of background low level anxiety this is/was causing.
  • I read the first few chapters of one of the nutrition books – the most I’ve read a paper book in one day for possibly a couple of years. I love books.
  • The time I had with the kids was more focused on them – I wasn’t checking my phone in passing, as I often do, then getting distracted from them.
  • My MacBook and iPad were pretty much out of sight in the bedroom. I left my phone there most of the time too. Again, out of sight is out of mind, I find it easier to remove temptation entirely than try to control it.

I liked the break so much I’m considering doing a day in the middle of week too.

But first I’m going to stick with Sundays Unplugged for a few weeks and see how this goes.

Overall I feel this is something that’s going to shift the balance of my life back to more important things, and cut down the often incessant – and usually unnecessary – checking. How do we get like this?

I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes. But just not on a Sunday.

Do you ever try unplugging or abstaining from anything for a part of the week? How did it work out?

Please let us know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

14 thoughts on “Sundays Unplugged”

  1. This is a very healthy idea. Tech addiction has become a serious issue in the past decade or so. It seems to worsen exponentially. I’m strongly considering doing the same as you’re suggesting. I hope it works well for you and that you are able to find the time to read those books and enjoy your walks. Who knows, you may find eliminating the internet on Sunday actually improves productivity throughout the rest of the week. Good luck! I look forward to reading about your success.

    1. Thanks Steve. Just looking at your blog, seems we’re on a similar track with a few things…
      I think the only potential danger with going unplugged on certain days, is then feeling you need to “catch up” on the days you are online, ie be more rushed and get more done. But I think we can combat this by seriously questioning how often we need to check blog stats, email, social media etc, and whether in fact some of these can be done once a day, or dropped entirely. I’ll keep you posted!

  2. When I first got my lap top the first thing I did most days would be to get on the computer and do emails, check groups I was in and often would be on for hours. nowadays I do meditation and yoga first thing and often don’t get on my computer until later in the day and sometimes only to answer a couple of important emails and then get off the computer. all the best with being unplugged Dan xoxo susanJOY

    1. Thanks Susan, yes I think we’re probably both online a lot less than the heights of the CCS days for example. I remember regularly waking, opening my laptop and the new message notifications from CCS alone being in triple figures where people in other parts of the world had been chatting while I slept… I couldn’t maintain that kind of communication these days!

  3. Splendid idea, for me the hikes/ trips work best, there’s no chance and desire neither to waste time at the screens, when there’s so much more to see and do. When coming back home, there’s a feeling of 100% quality time spent.

    1. Great idea Joni, even leaving the device(s) in another room is a great help, and as I said in the post, for me banning them entirely for a set period is much easier than trying to moderate and monitor use. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Great idea about Sundays. And yes, others are doing this too. As a physician, I am on call 1 night a week and 1 weekend a month. To destress and slow down, I compensate by turning off my phone when I leave work on the days I’m not on call. The distraction of the phone is immense, and to have it off is a relief. Good for you!

    1. Thanks Martin. A few years back I really got interested in the minimalism and simplicity movement and incorporated many of the ideas into my life. Unplugging is one of them, and something I feel it’s very beneficial to return to, for any of us!

  5. But when I unplug that phone the world stops working… or so I think. I’m totally enslaved to the phone. Can’t keep myself from looking at it as soon as it buzzes.

    I certainly should put in an offline day or two…

    But the thing is that the following day I have a backlog of mails messages and WordPress Reader stuff to go through. And there goes the time I gained.

    1. I think what I’m finding is I do actually gain time because rather than, say, check your email/WordPress/Flickr etc two or three times an hour or more (and most of the time find nothing new), if you do it once a day (or once the next day) you can clear the whole batch in a matter of minutes.

      If you also factor in what we might call the entry and departure impact on your time and focus (the time and focus required to get your phone, go to the required app, swipe etc, and the subsequent time to come out of that and return your focus to the previous task you were doing) then it’s not just the actual time the phone is in your hand that is used. The more often you check it, the more often you have this entry and departure factor.

      I read a productivity article the other day I got in a newsletter in my day job and it was looking at the time it takes people to get back to full focus on a task after they’ve been distracted by a phonecall, email etc. It was a something like 20 minutes on average.

      So checking your phone once doesn’t just “lose” you the 30 seconds it takes to check it, but potentially 20 mins afterwards to get fully present back in what you were doing before. I think this is the far bigger (and virtually hidden) loss of time.

      I have a new post in draft about Sundays Unplugged now I’ve completed the first month, where I expect I’ll write more about this.

      1. Looking forward to reading more ‘Sundays Unplugged’ reports.

        What annoys me most is when that darn phone interrupts me while reading… But that’s my fault entirely. I could just turn it off. But that would need some strength of caracter.

        The smartphones are both the best and worst thing to happen to us in those last 10 years

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