Sundays Unplugged – The Next Phase

My Sundays Unplugged experiment began back in February, with the main intention of spending one day a week completely disconnected from the internet.

Here’s how it’s evolved, and what I’m doing currently.

  • I close the lid on my MacBook early Friday evening, after having lined up a blog post or two ready for the weekend. I don’t touch it again until Monday evening, some 72 hours later.
  • My iPad I haven’t used for weeks, after restoring my MacBook and using that for writing, plus viewing and editing photos. I’m not quite sure what to do with it currently.
  • I’m using my Sony Xperia phone for most other quickfire browsing stuff (ie not writing or viewing photos) throughout the week. At the weekend I’m keeping the phone online for simple things like checking the weather maybe once a day in the morning, occasionally looking up directions to places or opening times, and maybe ordering the odd book or toy or household item (eg this weekend a pump to blow up the kids’ paddling pool) on Amazon or Argos.

I also leave the Xperia online so any photos I take with it are automatically uploaded to my Google Photos.

I have now and again been editing and processing photos, just with the phone, when I’ve had time to spare. This method of continually returning to Google Photos and pruning recent photos down to just the very best is working well.

Time online on the phone at the weekend is a matter of minutes.

I continue to use my old iPhone as an iPod, and whilst the music plays via Google Play Music, the stuff I play most I have downloaded on the phone, so it’s not online at all over the weekend.

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What I’m not checking at all online from Friday evening to Monday –

    • GMail.
    • WordPress (comments on 35hunter as well as my Reader showing new posts on other blogs).
    • Pinterest.
    • Flickr.

 

  • Er, that’s about all I use the internet for these days anyway.

What I’m doing with the extra time I’ve gained from not checking and chasing and reading online – 

Spending more time with family. 

Most important is the quality of time, because I’m not repeatedly checking my phone or computer the whole weekend. I’ve also noticed my mood has improved for the better, because I’m such a single task person, and trying to do something online and pay attention to the children and/or my wife ends up with me not doing either very well, then getting frustrated with both.

Spending more time with my wife in the evenings. 

More specifically, us doing something together, rather than being in the same room but on different devices. She would argue my hands are put to much better use giving her foot massages than bashing a keyboard or swiping a phone.

Reading/browsing photography books. 

Something I’ve never really done much before aside from a handful. It’s so different picking up a book of photos and looking at say, six photos over 15 minutes, rather than being online and probably skimming through 600 in the same time frame. This has made me linger more with viewing my own photography too, which I also feel is a benefit when trying to choose only your best work.

Listening to music and doing nothing else. 

Most of the time when I have music on, it’s as a background to something else. Yoga, driving, writing. But more recently with more time I’ve gone to bed some nights and just listened to music. Which, like anything you give your full focus too, gives deeper rewards than just being one of a number of simultaneous activities.

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Other thoughts about how this experiment has improved my life – 

  • I like sitting down for a meal without having my phone next to me. The whole week, not just weekends. Plus I feel it’s a good example to the kids.
  • As much as I love blogging, I like approaching an evening or two knowing I’m not going to touch my blog or MacBook at all.
  • It’s overall slowed me down and detached me from the need to “keep up”. I visit Flickr and Pinterest far less, and can check in with WordPress stuff in probably about an hour in total, maybe less, on a Monday lunchtime at work, plus the evening at home. Disconnecting for that longer period over the weekend has made me feel less of a need to check stuff, even during the week when I do have full access. Not going online for a few hours doesn’t mean the world will end or I’ll miss something incredible.
  • I don’t want to be offline entirely all week, and any day of the week it is very useful to have access for things that are so embedded in our lives, like researching places to visit (when they’re open and how to get there), booking cinema tickets, buying stuff online that you can’t just walk into a local shop and get, and so on.
  • My photography hasn’t directly dramatically improved, but the most noticeable impact is probably that, like being online, I now don’t feel that every time I go out somewhere I need to have a camera with me ready to take photos. I’ve distilled my photowalks down to fewer, but more immersive and higher quality sessions, which is a mirror of my internet time. Do it less, do it better. Plus as mentioned, I feel I’m editing my photos more slowly, thoroughly and purposefully.

I plan to continue in this same kind of unplugged rhythm for the foreseeable future.

Previously when I was doing just Sundays I thought about having an evening or two off in the middle of the week too. But going Friday evening to Monday evening without my MacBook and still having the phone for tiny occasional online activities maybe a couple of times a day, combined with my recent almost entire withdrawal from social media, feels like a very good balance right now.

Do you have any time unplugged during the week? Are you considering it?

Please share your unplugged thoughts and experience 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.

19 thoughts on “Sundays Unplugged – The Next Phase”

  1. Sunday has always been a day of rest for me. No work, no computers, no internet, no text, and the iPhone stays on the table where our land line phone once resided. The morning is spent in church. The afternoon is spent with family and friends. The evening is spent reading or occasionally watching a television program if there is something really worthwhile on.

    During the week I use the iMac for photo work and the iPhone for just about everything else. I have cut my computer use down to just tasks I _could_ do with the iPhone but I will occasionally go upstairs to use the iMac for things like spreadsheets that are just easier with the big screen and real keyboard. Having everything in the iCloud makes that easy.

    I am increasingly leaving the iPhone at home when I go out. This has two good effects. It keeps me from wasting time looking at things that can wait and it means I am taking a film camera with me more often.

    1. Doug, thanks for sharing your thoughts, sounds like you’ve got this all figured out in a way that really works for you.

      Much of the time with technology I’ve found we only reach for it because it’s there – like you leaving your iPhone at home to stop yourself looking at it.

      When I don’t check my email for three days, then return, I can dip into to the essentials in half an hour or an hour maximum. But dipping in and out say 20 times a day just to see one or two updates is really inefficient and just breeds that “always on” mentality. Which for me feels like a form of mild but unsettling and ever present anxiety.

      Most of us need to take some physical action like disconnecting from wi-fi or leaving our devices in a different room to achieve this. But it’s worth it!

      I try not to do too much with my phone because I just find it fiddly to anything more than a few swipes and taps. Trying to reply to comments like for example takes so long and is so frustrating it’s not worth it. I just wait until I’m back on a computer and tap it out in a few minutes.

      Oh and lastly I’m a big fan of visiting churches, as you probably gather from my pictures, and I’ve been more this year than ever. I just prefer going when they’re empty and the essence and soul of the building (and anything else that might be present) has that space and quiet to breathe.

  2. That sounds like a good plan Dan. Family is very important. I have a day every week when I turn everything off and leave it off. It’s not always the same day because of work. Not that hard as I don’t use social media anymore.

  3. Hiya Dan

    I’m in awe of your single-mindedness (never been sure if that needed the hyphen…) to cementing your unplugged Sunday routine. Due to the fact that I spend my working week running my fingers across a keyboard and staring at a screen enveloped in my job, I feel the weekend is a time for my mind (and body) to be free.

    So I try to have as many outlets as possible…
    What I don’t do is spend idle time online. When my curiosity takes hold, and I want to have a check on, say new (to me) technique of a printer, I have a look. I feel I have recognised ‘the hump’ of social media, and then crossed over. I am free of the strangle hold, and now see benefit of the InterWebs and all that stored knowledge. It’s all about balance no?

    Anyways, just my 2 pence worth added to your ongoing dialogue, or is that a monologue 😉

    Have a good one, and keep it up mate
    A

    1. Yes, like you, my day job is pretty computer intensive, so I enjoy the physical/mental break from it at the weekends too.

      The internet makes our lives easier in many ways, and yes it’s great to make use of those (simple research, learning and communication purposes) and resist getting caught up in time wasting activities and sites that ultimate serve no-one.

      It’s very much an ongoing dialogue between us all! A monologue of just me rambling would become very dull!

      Thanks as always for your input and being here.

  4. Because of my work, Sunday unfortunately is the only day I really to shoot or edit photos. Better still, I know its also the holy day to flood Dan’s Gmail account with spam emails! 8D

        1. This is the exact fundamental fear that a huge amount of advertising plays on these days. If you don’t do what they say, you’ll miss out, lose all your friends and become an outcast… It’s mass hypnosis Frank, resist!

          I felt similarly about not visiting WP between Friday eve and Monday, that I’d miss out on so much. The reality is I can respond to comments in an hour maximum. Well worth the nearly three days off!

  5. Nice post. I unplug intermittently all week long. Ever since I got back to shooting film it seems to have slowed me down. I, like you, don’t feel the need to shoot everything that passes before my eyes. I may carry a camera but the cost keeps me selectively shooting. And the wait and see before my films come back from the lab keep me away from the computer screen. I got away from FB last year and have been trying to engage more here on WP but it’s slow building a community partly since I don’t check in her quite often enough. Been using my extra time to heal as I am four months after my Moms passing and two years of unbelievable stress involving her health care. The hearing involves walks in the woods with a camera, more time with my wife, gardening, more reading than I have ever done and just quietly sitting outside, no screens. Feels good.

    1. Sorry about your mum Lisa Marie. I wasn’t so directly involved with the care but my dad was terribly ill for the last years of his life and it was a relief in some ways when he didn’t make it through an operation in 2006. He had no kind of life anymore.

      Walking, reading, photography, gardening, all high on my list of enjoyable, immersive and healing activities too… Oh and just sitting quietly. Amazing how some people seem to always need to have some kind of screen stimulation…

      1. Yes I understand your sense of relief. I felt the same when Mom passed. It was so hard to watch her decline. Sorry about your Dad. Wish I had better understood the impact of loosing someone close as my Mom lost her parents and all of her siblings before her. Oh well, love and learn. My best to you.

        1. I wasn’t that close to my dad, and strangely there are things I probably miss more now, 12 years on, than before. I think a major factor is having my own kids, which forces you to revisit your childhood many times daily and try to figure out what your parents did well and how you can emulate that, and what perhaps they didn’t do so well, and try to learn from that too. Having children of your own that your own father never saw also makes me wonder about what he’d think of them, and they of him. So that brings more thoughts to the forefront of my mind that there might otherwise be.

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