Ten takeaways from 24/6 - the book about unplugging just one day a week
by Jackie A
A month ago
We all think about doing a digital detox and how much it could benefit our lives. However few of us ever let go of our screens for more than a few hours, never mind a whole day.
Yet film-maker Tiffany Shlain has been doing a one day a week tech detox for ten years. Along with her husband and daughters, aged 10 and 16, the family don’t touch their screens from Friday night for 24 hours, every week.
Now she has written a book about it called 24/6 The Power Of Unplugging One Day A Week. Here is what it reveals.
- A weekly 24 hour tech detox immeasurably improved the author’s life. According to the Emmy nominated film maker and creator of the Web Awards, a digital detox just one day a week “seems to defy the law of physics - as it both slows down time and gives us more of it”. And who doesn’t need more time?
- The family will thank you. Shlain’s daughters have been doing this almost all their lives. “They enjoy their time off screen and look forward to it. It feels like a vacation every week.” And provides that same sense of deep relaxation.
- Life without a pause is really no life at all. It helps you be more present. You can appreciate the small things, it encourages resourcefulness, and as she writes, it “recalls a simpler time”. What’s more it “helps us use tech in a way that prevents tech from using us”.
- It’s not easy, especially for the truly addicted. (Do not try to implement this on a Monday.) But it is achievable to step away from your emails and WhatsApps and texts one day at the weekend without the sky falling in or your career ending. Fill that screen-free day with stuff you’ve always wanted to do and people you haven’t seen for ages. Get outdoors. Take an art class. Host a supper party. The alternative is increasingly no fun at all.
- The 24 hours begins at sundown Friday night an ends 24 hours later. Shlain calls it a tech Shabbat as she is Jewish, but there the religious connotations end. It just means no emails, FaceTime, Facebook, Instagram etc for 24 hours from one evening to the next. Choose Saturday to Sunday if you like. If anyone needs to get in touch, it’s the landline or come by the house. Yes, you do need a landline. Get it back pronto.
- Advance planning is everything. It makes going phone-free easier and achievable. Always have a super-busy Saturday? The key is to print out a schedule and make all your plans by Friday afternoon. There was life before the iPhone, as many of us well remember. Some of us even remember life with a public phone box. And 24 hours without a camera? How many of those 7,000 photos on your phone do you ever go back to? Seeing life through your own eyes and not through a camera lens can be a revelation. As Shlain reminds us, “eye contact is the first and last form of communication we have. It’s fundamental”. And we’re in danger of losing it.
- “My teenage kids would never do it” just doesn’t wash. As Shlain writes: “You are the parent. You can make anything happen”. Channel her fierceness. She reminds us that whether our kids realise it or not, they need time offline too. And the more resistant they are, the more obvious it is that they need to unplug. Present it as a treat not a punishment - ask them what they would like to do more as a family? Baking, cooking, playing games, visiting places and people. Shlain’s dying father had the best advice when she asked him what was the meaning of life? “Appreciate beauty. Plant gardens. Enjoy sunsets. Help people less fortunate that you. Think big. Nothing is more important than family. Be present.”
- 24/7 technology is bad for us and bad for business. The right to have two days off a week has been around for about 100 years. It was campaigned for. During the Industrial Revolution, experts predicted we would soon only need to work four hours a day - and yet we now have less free time and greater unhappiness than ever before. Research proves that an employee working 60 hours a week will actually produce less than one working just 40 hours. We need to push back and break the algorithm that makes us keep clicking through and refreshing, if only for one day.
- You will sleep better. Recently Netflix’s CEO Red Hastings was asked who his biggest competitor is. “We’re competing with sleep” he said. Don’t let Netflix win that one. At least seven to eight hours of sleep, as we have learned previously from Matthew Walker’s book Why We Sleep, is vital for memory, problem solving, attention, immune function, growth, and the effective and efficient functioning of most of our organs. Lack of sleep leads to dementia, raised blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, road traffic and other injuries, and proneness to infection. Just FYI.
- The best time to get started is this weekend. There will always be an excuse not to do it this week. But a lucky person has on average 30,000 days on this earth - Shlain discovered the power of living 24/6 at around 15,000. It is never too late. “Even though it may never feel like a good time to start unplugging, now is the best time.”
24/6 - The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week By Tiffany Shlain