Do You Need To Schedule Your Technology Down Time?

from the shut-down-and-go-outside dept

One of the best decisions I made when I first start blogging on Techdirt oh-so-many-years ago, was that I wouldn't blog on weekends. While it wasn't on purpose, it's worked out nicely as it gives me plenty of time on weekends to disconnect and do other stuff. I've found (surprising to some, I'm sure) that it's not at all difficult for me to pretty much ignore my computer for the weekend if I need to. And, then, there are some weekends where I do end up using the computer, either for fun or to catch up on some work-related things. However, I never considered setting up an official "schedule" of tech down time. Yet, Mark Glaser, over at MediaShift notes that a growing number of people are setting aside "tech sabbaths" to force themselves to disconnect. Interestingly, he even notes that it's often quite common for religious people, who observe a religious sabbath, to embrace this idea as well. I can see the point for folks who really have trouble disconnecting, but if it's not that big a deal, I would think that the situation should dictate how people act. If they have no pressing reason to be on the computer -- then don't use it. But that doesn't mean necessarily requiring it be out of your life for a specific time period.

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  • identicon
    inc, 13 Jun 2008 @ 3:38am

    this would be great for business upgrade since fewer people would notice. Amazon may want to find this out and schedule their website down time accordingly.

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  • identicon
    fuzzix, 13 Jun 2008 @ 4:08am

    You can DISconnect?

    News to me. I thought this article was going to be about scheduling server down time. Never thought my brain would be exposed to seditious radicalism.

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  • identicon
    Charish, 13 Jun 2008 @ 4:51am


    B.S., in my opinion. If you actually have to break out your little planner book or PDA (lol, there's downtime from technology for you...) in order to tell yourself, "Hey, maybe I've had enough of sitting on my ass!" then that's pretty bad. It shows that you have a petite amount of self-control of what you do and don't really appreciate the more subtle things. If you're bored sitting on the computer, you're bored - don't force yourself to sit down and figure out something to do on your computer. Just hit the "Start" icon (or the top-right most icon for Ubuntu users like myself) and hit "Shut Down". Doesn't take a lot of energy or power.

    "MediaShift notes that a growing number of people are setting aside "tech sabbaths" to force themselves to disconnect. Interestingly, he even notes that it's often quite common for religious people, who observe a religious sabbath, to embrace this idea as well."

    Now there's marketing for you... lol. Change it to "Day of Rest from Tech" and I'm pretty sure that'll appeal to a lot of Christians (fundamentalists, primarily).

    All in all, something like this shouldn't have to be dictated by planners or PDAs - it should be common sense. But then again, we're talking about human beings in which whom common sense seems to be quite lacking these days. Now excuse my while I go start a torrent and head off to work =P

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  • identicon
    Haywood, 13 Jun 2008 @ 5:06am

    I was an early adopter

    We really belong to no organized religion, but my wife and I began to feel the need for a Sabbath of some sort. We heard a speaker describe a Jewish Sabbath, and liked what was described; Meals prepared in advance, electrical stuff off unless automatic (like HVAC), ETC. We follow that, and it works for us, sundown to sundown, one day a week, off it all goes & out come the books and board games. I find, as a couple we are stronger than ever, that down time really seems to bond us in ways nothing else ever has, and we have been together 40 yrs.
    Surprisingly when we turn the stuff back on, we haven't missed anything.

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  • identicon
    Sneeje, 13 Jun 2008 @ 5:45am

    Less useful for you, more useful for others

    My first reaction is that I would find this useful not because I had to do it, but because it would allow me to set expectations for others. For example, I try to make it very clear to my coworkers and bosses that my cell phone gets turned off after I get home.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Jun 2008 @ 6:43am

      Re: Less useful for you, more useful for others

      That's understandable to a point, but keep in mind that if you're on salary and have a company provided cell phone, that means you're pretty much on call 24/7 unless you make specific time off arrangements. At least that's the way it is in the IT world. Some companies are good about not abusing this privilege, others are terrible. If you're working for a terrible one, I suggest you find a better one.

      The thing is, if you are supposed to be on call and purposefully make yourself not available, that could have a very negative impact on your reviews, and possibly result in termination if you happen to tick off the wrong people. I'm not saying we should be forced to be workaholics, but there is a certain amount of job responsibility that you need to deal with too.

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  • identicon
    Jason Unger, 13 Jun 2008 @ 6:37am

    Welcome to my world -- you're invited.

    As a Sabbath-observant Jew, tech junkie and online media publisher, I turn off everything from the laptop to the TV to the lights from Friday night to Saturday night ... every week.

    It's the most refreshing part of my week. I didn't grow up keeping Shabbat, so I've experienced both ways, and having the one day a week spent focused on family, resting and community outweighs anything I could ever get from being online or working.

    If you're ever interested in seeing how it's done, get in touch. You might actually enjoy it.

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  • identicon
    syN-acK, 13 Jun 2008 @ 6:42am


    Sabbath is not necessarily religious. It means literally a 'rest from work'. The first sentance says it all:
    "Lately, I’ve been experimenting with taking one day each week away from work completely."

    I recently took a five day vacation with the family to the beach, no cell phone, no laptop, no Internet, no office. It was the best family vacation I ever had, my kids and wife had my full attention the whole time, the world didn't collapse, and I came back to the same amount of work I left, which is tons.

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  • identicon
    Slow news day, 13 Jun 2008 @ 6:43am

    Why is this a techdirt question?

    Really, now. People schedule workouts on a scheduled routine. Worship on a routine, eat foods by a diet, often on a routine, so why is this any different.

    Some people need rigor in order to maintain order in their life. When I work on side projects and issues at home, I set a timer, because if I don't I'll loose sense of time and work all night and then be shot for my meetings or personal life the next day.

    If you don't rag on how stupid everyone who suggests a regimented work out routine, or everyone who obey a strict planned out diet, why rag on these guys?

    "unplugging" can be a healthy thing. If I don't turn my phone off it rings, If I don't turn off messenger, I get IM'd, if I need down time, I have to turn those things off. Plus doing it to a schedule makes it predictable, which allows the people around you to adapt to the situation. If people think I'm not answering my phone cause I'm busy they'll just keep calling in an emergency. If they no I'm on some sorta "sabbath" then they'll take the extra measures to contact me, and not depend on tech I decided to put down for a while.

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  • identicon
    TheDock22, 13 Jun 2008 @ 7:38am

    I've been doing this unconsciously for years.

    I never really thought about it until now, but I have plenty of times when I refuse to use my computer, tv, and cell phone. When I'm at the gym I never take my cell phone with me. Saturdays are my big cleaning days so I turn on music (I dunno, is that considered technology?), turn everything else off and get all my weekly chores done. Then I usually sit down with a book for an hour or go out somewhere.

    To completely get away from technology, I LOVE to go camping. Where I live you can drive about 45 minutes to be up in the mountains where a cell phone signal is nowhere to be found.

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  • identicon
    Kevin Combs, 13 Jun 2008 @ 8:32am

    Kick Out the Tech Days

    no doubt Google engineers are already figuring out a way to index "zero-tech" time so they can advise on server down time as part of behavioral marketing gizmos.

    For a really good tech break-- take the battery out of your cell phone for the day.

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  • identicon
    Abdul Koroma, 13 Jun 2008 @ 11:03am

    Bloggers: A Dying Breed!!!!

    I think the problem is more acute with bloggers who always seems pressurized into believing that they should be the first to give those breaking news!! With the always changing digital and political landscape and in the pursuit of ratings, bloggers are putting themselves into some unnecessary pressure to singularly be a 24/7 news channel. This was well explained i the folowing blog: Bloggers: A Dying Breed?(

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  • identicon
    Matt, 13 Jun 2008 @ 11:48am

    I think you're missing the point

    I am very familiar with this idea, and your blog does a terrible job explaining it.

    For example, I was on a complete "tech Sabbath" when I participated in Habitat for Humanity in Tennessee. I wasn't allowed to even have a cell phone or ipod. Even watches were not allowed.

    In the end, I am confident that it strengthened my experience, it allowed me to be more involved in my activities.

    You will have no idea how huge a distraction something like a cell phone really is until you set everything aside for a week and actually DO something.

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  • identicon
    John Wilson, 17 Jun 2008 @ 7:00pm

    Downtime is valuable...a "sabbath" is even better

    While even the use of the word "sabbath" or "sabbat" is likely to draw (what are supposed to be) withering commments from those completely unfamiliar with the concept. It's also very important to realize that it is more than "a day of rest" or simply a way to control other people's work days and hours.

    Put overly simply it's a one day retreat, if you like, where you shut down the rest of the week in order to look inward to yourself, review the week in relation to your real (ie non work) goals and your relationship with yourself and those people important in your life.

    It's a time for stock taking. Getting a chance to catch a breath and re-establish some inner and outer piece with yourself and your place in creation.

    if it's sounding too religious, I'm sorry I'm doing the best I can without writing a long piece myself about it.

    While not everyone can do something like that on a regular basis due to work pressures it is something we all need to do from time to time.

    Not just turn off the cell, iPhone, Blackberry and internet connection.

    Turn on the connection to your inner self, you family and that real world out there that you actually exist in.



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