Those of you who follow me regularly know that I have a love/hate relationship with technology. As a writer, I love my laptop and couldn’t work efficiently without it. As the single mother of four kids ages 14 – 21, I literally feel panicky at the idea of not having my cell phone. Two of my kids are in college, and our cell phones are often the only way we can stay in touch (in case you’re wondering, there are no longer pay phones in college dorms).
But it’s often too much for me. The lines between work and home are already blurry for me. I write in my office, often at odd hours, but I also “sneak” time in between to use social networking, blog, research new ideas and stay connected to friends and readers.
Last winter, I experimented with giving myself Sundays completely off. This might not sound ground-breaking — most people DO have at least one day a week off — but for someone who was writing seven days a week (2-3 books a year), it represented a radical shift in thinking. I was finally ready to admit that I NEEDED that time to reboot, not only to feel better and be happier, but because time away from writing and writing-related work actually made me a better writer.
So for a few months, Sunday was a no writing, no social networking zone. I set an Away message on my email every Saturday night and forced myself not to open my computer — not even to online shop or stay in touch with friends. I spent Sundays reading, talking walks, and watching afternoon movies with the kids. And I have to say; it made a difference. I felt more focused and centered. During the week when I was stretched too thin, the idea of my Sunday was like an oasis. I haven’t kept up with it over the summer because (thankfully) I’ve had a bit more time off and have made a point to spend time with Rebekah, who is home from college. We’ve had plenty of tech-free time, most recently by taking regular hikes at a nearby nature preserve (the photo above is from our most recent girl’s hike). Still, as soon as the kids are back in school and I’m on my regular writing schedule again, I plan to deploy my Tech-Free Sundays again.
Today I read an article in the Huffington Post about a Tech Free park in San Francisco. It looks lovely and fun and whimsical, and it made me wonder if we shouldn’t ALL have a tech-free zone. Maybe it’s a place in the house where we absolutely don’t use technology (like the bedroom). Maybe it’s a figurative “zone”, like my Sundays. But I do think we need it. I don’t think human beings are wired for the constant connectivity we experience now. And even though we might not realize it, to be mentally and spiritually healthy, we require the kind of quiet space in our minds that allows for stillness, peace, and random thought.
Think of it as required daydreaming for grown-ups.
What do you think? Is it time we all take a step back and reconnect to our low-tech roots? Is it something you’d consider doing on a regular basis?