Sundays Unplugged – 10 Weeks On

In late February I wrote about my Sundays Unplugged experiment.

The premise was simple – no internet access on my phone on Sundays, and no iPad or MacBook at all.

The aim was to spend more time offline with my family, reading, and just not frequently and unnecessarily checking the internet.

Ten Sundays later, here are my main thoughts…


I miss having the internet for a few simple things like checking the weather, cinema and swimming pool times, and so on.

I really like not touching either my MacBook or iPad for 24 hours. Because my phone does other things, like take and process photographs, play music, track my activity, record notes and ideas, and tell me the time, I don’t have this complete disconnection as with the other two devices. But I’m not desperate to go online with the phone, I just leave the WiFi off all day.

I really like being more focused and immersed with the kids, without feeling a frequent urge to check if I have new emails or comments on 35hunter.

I like that I have more time to read books, rather than reading online. I have read, or am in the process of reading, five photography books during this Sundays Unplugged period, so quite a triumph on this front.

I don’t like that the Friday and Saturday before the Sunday, I’m spending more time try to get “up to speed” online, so I can not do anything Sunday. Similarly, Monday mornings it feels like I have more to do.

In reality though, with no social media to follow, the most emails or blog comments I ever get in 24 hours is only a dozen, so this is a behavioural hangover from past times when I was checking more different sources and had more feeding my email inbox.


What I want to do next.

Sundays Unplugged are working well, on the whole. I don’t think I need to be so strict with my phone on Sundays, and if I want to look up the show time of a film, just do it, rather than feeling it’s a complete failure of the unplugged exercise.

Taking this idea further, I’d like to have another day (or at least the part of it while at home) with no internet – that is no email, 35hunter, Flickr and Pinterest. Again, popping on for 30 seconds to check the weather or location of somewhere on my phone is “allowed”.

But this is skirting around the issue, rather than facing it head on.

What I really want is to go deeper with this concept and not just unplug entirely, but wean myself off the constant checking and chasing.

For the purpose of the rest of this conversation, let’s call this habit “chacking”. (Apparently an ancient term for a bird making a sharp, harsh call.)

I really don’t like that some days I’ll check say my email, respond to anything that needs a response, then 15 minutes later check it again.

I want longer periods without chacking, and realistically I could ignore email (including WordPress notifications) entirely every morning and just check it in one batch in the evening. If my ego could handle this…

It’s this segregation and separation of the tasks I do online that I need to work on.

I love having a blog and writing and the conversations we have in the comments – here on 35hunter and on other blogs you write at.

I love making photographs and editing and sharing them.

These things I can do easily without reverting to chacking.

Everything comes through my email, including WordPress notifications, so I don’t need to look anywhere else. Checking email once a day in the evening sounds like an exciting but challenging task!

I’ll update you in a couple of weeks..

How do you feel about “chacking” – is it something you do online more than you’d like? What have you done to combat it? Have you tried periods “unplugged”, either partly or entirely?

Please share your thoughts below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).

Thanks for looking. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too. If you’re interested, this is what my photography life looks like right now.

17 thoughts on “Sundays Unplugged – 10 Weeks On”

  1. Dan, I usually get on my lap top once a day to do whatever needs doing and extra reading or studying if time allows. Sometimes I check my phone for an email I am waiting for during the day but not often. I don’t have a blog like you and if I did I would still just check daily and do replies. Seems to me you have a bit of an addiction to needing to check on it so often. You are great at making rules for yourself and sticking to them. so go with what you have planned and review it like you have been doing. Of course it is OK to check the swimming pool opening time or cinema time but checking every time you get a response to your blog is not so important. all of us can wait. enough of a lecture from me. May you work out a happy medium xoxo susanJOY

    1. Thanks Susan. I’ve been offline for most of the weekend (and much of today, it’s the Mayday Bank Holiday) aside from a couple of very briefs uses of Google to look up stuff.

      I have enjoyed realising I don’t need to check my email so often. I’ll write about this in more depth in a new post soon.

  2. I find I’m checking Instagram and Twitter a bit more than I would like. Facebook, I kind of forget about; I can go days before I think “oh, i haven’t checked my feed in a while!” I think this is because photography is my main love, and so I’m more drawn to those platforms where I follow people who are also into it. My facebook is just family and old friends, no one on there knows a thing about photography lol.

    I have previously experimented with uninstalling instagram and twitter, and only checking them in the evening when I was on the computer. However, I missed sharing photos (particularly to Stories) or thoughts I had throughout the day, and ended up reinstalling them after a couple of weeks. Well, at least I tried! Of course I could just use the web apps but they’re not as functional.

    Fortunately I’m not a big email checker, otherwise I’m sure my “chacking” problem would be a lot worse. Occasionally I’ll look on Flickr, but most of the time if I go on there, it’s to share one of my photos from there to Instagram, or to look up images taken with a particular camera, lens or film.

    There have been times when I’ve thought about leaving my phone at home for the day, but I can’t really because I have an elderly mother who needs to be able to contact me in an emergency, however I could try being unplugged at home. If I’m not on my computer, I’m usually on my phone!

    1. It comes down to what we’re comfortable with. If you don’t feel there’s an issue with your “chacking” and it’s not negatively impacting your life, then no need to change anything.

      I know I just don’t like the feeling, that edgy, anxious kind of feeling when you’re swiping to refresh, almost like a guilty secret. It’s this I need to work on more than the actual act of checking my email for message I genuinely want to receive and respond to in some way.

      Because I really only use WordPress and Flickr online (in terms of anything social), all of my notifications for these come through my GMail. Aside from that it’s just things like updates from the kids’ school, and receipts/updates from services I use online.

      1. I don’t like how often I’m checking how many “likes” and followers I have, but otherwise I enjoy Instagram for the photos and Stories 🙂

      2. Don’t you find it all too tiny though? Unless I just couldn’t find it, there didn’t seem to be an iPad app, just an mobile one that basically magnifies on the iPad and makes things look worse. I just don’t want to view photos the size of postage stamps, it’s a complete dishonour to the whole concept and art of photography.

  3. This is a tough one.

    The human consciousness/unconscious structure is programmed for “alert” awareness as a survival mechanism. That can lead, unfortunately, to the well-documented anxiety-addiction state, on a spectrum all the way from FOMO to hyperawareness, and can be crippling. This has become deeper and more widespread with the advent of smartphones.

    An anecdote: by the late 80s, I found myself oppressed by the constant barrage of bad news and the attendant diffuse dread. A colleague who had been through an advance degree program in Communications said that in his studies, it was thought important to understand all the effects of communications, and was advised that he should take a two-week sabbatical from the news and note the effect.

    I tried it, abjuring intake in any form.

    It was glorious. Quiet. Placid. Serene. My experiment lasted for two years. It ended one day when I was stuck in a barber’s chair and one of the barbers turned on the TV.

    You may not have that luxury; with this blog, you are in the arts entertainment/education/symposium business and must stay in touch. Bringing effective discipline and balance to staying in touch can itself be very difficult, and adds the burden of monitoring one’s engagement for signs of excess: more mental freight.

    I wish you well. This is a world where local ordinances are starting to be passed forbidding staring into a screen while in a street crossing because people are being squashed by cars and trucks through inattention. We need not mention the slaughter caused by texting-while-driving.

    Thanks for this. You have awakened my resolve. I’m going back to shutting out the news; the violence, the global drift toward fascism, the state of the planet, the economy, gargling the whole toxic trough. I will look in here and at a couple more, read, exercise, do carpentry, gardening, think.


    1. I wish I could ignore the news. No matter how much I tell my mum “I don’t care” (and I do care, too much, that’s the problem), she likes to regale me with tales about all the people who’ve died in a shooting/earthquake or what some fascist politician said the other day. She seems to delight in talking about death, I don’t understand why since she’s had 2 strokes and has chronic kidney disease, so you’d think it would be a topic she’d avoid discussing, or is that just me

      1. Oh she’s the most pessimistic woman in the world, I gave up trying to make her think positively a long time ago lol 🙂

    2. Oh I do have a pretty wide reaching media blackout already. Not to extremities, but I never read newspapers, watch news on TV or view online news feeds. Occasionally there might be something someone mentions then I look it up, like did you hear Bowie’s dead.

      But I stopped taking any news maybe 15+ years ago. I just couldn’t/can’t deal with the relentless doom and gloom. The news is actually the BAD news, and people kind of forget that I think, and feel that all of the new developments happening in the world are bad. When many are good, just the good doesn’t get reported in the same way, if at all.

      Another reason I left Facebook in 2010, just too much pointless “news” about (local) people I barely knew or cared about, and so much desperate attention seeking. It was a localised version of the national and international doom and gloom.

      “Gargling the whole toxic trough” is a magnificent phrase by the way. I used to go to a writers group some years ago, and there was a guy there who (when he came, maybe one meeting in four) wrote the most fantastic visceral raw and beautiful poetry. Imagine the very best gritty, edgy yet poetic street photography (yes, that 0.00001% that is out there amongst the seas of dross) in poetry equivalent. The way you write sometimes reminds me of him. This is a good thing.


  4. I deleted Facebook from my phone and it cut my nervous checking by 80%. I spend more time reading blogs and books on my phone now. It was a good trade.

    1. Any time I hear “I deleted Facebook” it’s music to my ears. I can’t remember anyone then saying anything other than it’s a relief and they should’ve done it ages ago.

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