I want to take intentional time away from screens. I know it would be good for me. I find myself scrolling too much. I even do it before bed and as I wake up in the morning. It’s got me a little strung out, to be honest.
Tiffany Shlain’s book, 24/6: Giving Up Screens One Day a Week to Get More Time, Creativity and Connection, has inspired me to get away from screens. Part memoir, part history of Sabbath practices and part survey of the neuroscience behind getting away from screens, this book advocates for and gives suggestions on how to get away from screens 24 hours out of each week. It’s a practice she calls a Tech Shabbat (named after the Jewish term for the weekly Sabbath).
There are many compelling reasons for getting away from screens – reduced anxiety and stress, improved eyesight and posture – not to mention the many benefits we get from resting in general.
Shlain also mentions some other compelling benefits that did not seem as obvious to me at first:
Empathy. She sites many studies that tell us our interaction with screens comes at the expense of developing human connection through our eyes. “Using our eyes to look at technological tools has its purpose – but it can come at the expense of our best tool: our eyes’ ability to read and interpret faces and body language in real life,” Shlain writes.
Character. Developing positive character traits takes time. Setting aside 24 hours to be away from screens and taking time for yourself and those who matter to you – face to face – is developing character. “Tech Shabbat gives us time to foster the best aspects of our family and ourselves and to strengthen our ability to detach from the animal instinct network known as the Web,” she writes.
I know from my years of yoga practice that my body, mind and soul function much better with a short practice each day. I also did a silent retreat as part of my most recent teacher training. I gave up screens for almost 48 hours that time and did NOT want to return to the real world after that.
I’m going to continue working on finding a way to take that day off. For now, I am also going to embrace a few of the daily practices she suggests for anytime in the week:
Resist the urge to look at your phone when you are waiting. Try interacting with the world around you, or just do nothing instead.
Set timers or other boundaries around your screen time. Focus setting exist on most major platforms that help you reign in notifications on your phone and computer. Here are some directions for Apple IOS, Android, and Microsoft Teams.
Schedule times of quiet rest throughout the day. Go outside or stare out a window during lunch, go for walks (even if short ones), or try some journaling, painting or coloring.
Practice the Pomodoro Technique. This is a suggestion I learned recently from my coach Becky Mollenkamp. You simply work for 25 minutes, then take a 5-minute break, then repeat. My body is so much happier and I’m more productive when I work using this technique. I’m getting away from my screen for at least 5 minutes each half hour.
Ready to change your life for the better?
Do you want to explore this practice and the book? I’m hosting a book discussion of this great read on Thursday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. EDT. Technically, registration has closed, but if you want to come, email me and I’ll send you the link to our Zoom meeting.
And each month’s community care group coaching session focuses on practice, like Tech Shabbat, that help you establish good self-care habits. My next session is Thursday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. EDT. Register for the session, or be part of any level of my Defy the Trend community packages to get access to this monthly session.