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What happens when we unplug and recharge? #TechFreeSundays

Over the years my daughter and I have given up our fair share of guilty pleasures for Lent: things like chocolate, sugar, soda, and watching SpongeBob SquarePants. Seriously. It was an obsession in our house a few years ago.

Although we probably should have sacrificed our weekly Keeping up with the Kardashians binge, we decided to forgo technology on Sundays. This wasn’t going to be the easiest sacrifice, especially with a 14-year-old daughter.

So here’s how we committed: no devices from 6 a.m-6 p.m. every Sunday. The early evening end time allowed me to get some work done at the end of the day and she could catch-up on everything she’s missed before school on Monday.

Thanks to the innovation of tech, our work lives are consumed with emails, text messages and social media notifications, which easily spill into our personal lives. It can be difficult to define where to unplug and stop working.

My problem is email. Sometimes a message pops up in the evening, and I have to stop what I’m doing to respond. But is that healthy? These kinds of habits make it difficult to let our brains completely “turn off” from the workday.

If you’re feeling overconnected, it’s probably because you are. A Forbes article featuring YoungAh Park, a stress recovery-researcher from Kansas State University gives an example,  “If there are any unpleasant text messages or emails from work-related people — such as a boss, co-worker, clients, customers or contractors — you may be more likely to ruminate about work-related issues or worries…. When people are really under stress their psychological and physical resources are drained, so they are less likely to self-regulate hostile behaviors and provide sufficient support for their spouse.”

Do you ever feel like you’re not present at home? How do you draw a line of comfort with your work-life balance? Here are my suggestions:

  1. set boundaries outside of work hours
  2. clearly communicate your schedule and “after hours” availability
  3. create a clear, concise automated email that conveys your unavailability and details your return

I’ve tried to do these things on a personal level throughout my tech cleanse. So as Lent comes to a close, here’s what I’ve noticed:

  1. It takes time for others to settle into the inaccessibility.
  2. My father isn’t loving the tech-free policy.  I’m convinced that the only day he really “needs” to tell us something is on Sunday.
  3. Sunday is for Pinterest!

It’s amazing how many questions are answered from the Internet. Sundays are when I love to cook and it’s been tough finding and following recipes when I can’t get on Pinterest.

The flowers are actually blooming. I can see it with my own eyes!

When I’m not observing things through someone else’s lenses (aka Instagram); I get to see things through my own. Without my phone, I can walk the dog and actually look around and appreciate what’s happening around me.

Will my #TechFreeSundays continue post-Lent? I’m not sure, but I like the idea of carving out time every week or even a few hours during the day that I’m not “plugged in.”

Do you have designated tech-free days? I’d love to hear your story.  Share your thoughts using the hasthtag #techfree on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

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