The Tech Shabbat isn’t a super-new concept, but it’s an absolutely terrific one to embrace—especially now that the year-end scramble to deliver and spend and do-do-do and go-go-go saps most of us of our energy, productivity, peace, and introspection.
Sure, the wind-up to the end of your team’s seasonal work cycle and the impending holidays offer heaps of excitement, yet most of us readily admit to being overscheduled, overloaded, and just downright run down during this time of year. Taking a tech break can help you get through it all with more energy, focus, and purpose. Promise. Just listen to filmmaker Tiffany Shlain rave about how she and her family have been successfully observing a Tech Shabbat once a week for a decade with seriously meaningful results.
Everyone Wants Meaningful Results
At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves (and our teams, clients, partners, family—basically everyone). We crave more purposeful interactions, more creative solutions, more meaningful projects, more community connection. And yet most of us are on our devices most of the time not creating space for the more that actually matters.
There’s plenty of data-driven advice out there confirming what seems intuitive: taking (tech) breaks during your work day actually boosts performance. Recently, Microsoft Japan tested a four-day work week and found a 40% spike in productivity. (So, yeah, we get it. Put the phone down and breathe. Step away from the computer. We also get that technology helps us tremendously, in so many stunningly viable ways.)
Unplug to Recharge—and Then to (Re)Connect
Tech addiction is a real thing (you know this). There are dozens and dozens of treatment centers for Internet and device addiction across the land helping mostly Gen Zers/digital natives. The “Millennials vs Boomers” landscape constantly compares how often members of those groups check their phones, and how connected they feel. True confessions: I’ve been trying my best to not check my phone unnecessarily—super easy when I’m hiking off the grid each week, and yet I still have to talk myself down from grabbing for the screen when it’s right there beside me and not buried in my pack. Just like you. (NBD—it’s just that pesky oxytocin-connection-addiction cycle at work.) But when I do take that break, a real break, I come back to my work via various devices with freshness and vitality that wasn’t there before. Somehow the fog lifts.
Here’s the (not-so-surprising) challenge: This month, join me in doing more than adding a stretch break app to your daily routine and calling it good. (That is good. But there’s more.) Really unplug for a day. If that thought cranks your heart rate up to a steady gallop, commit to unplugging for half a day, and see what happens. (Come on, you know what’s going to happen. Do it! Once a week, even!)
As Tiffany Shlain extolls, what a gift we have with technology that “extends our ability to connect” in new, fabulous ways. We wouldn’t be able to work as we do, solving both simple and complex problems from “outer space.” With regular breaks from tech tools and toys, we can pay more attention to connecting with our favorite people deeply, including ourselves, and in turn, appreciate technology with renewed focus and clarity. Who doesn’t want to experience more of that!