I spend most of my working time at my desk, hammering away at the keyboard and gliding along with my mouse. At the end of a long week, it’s been hours and hours indoors staring at glowing screens. Sometimes, in the middle of a grueling grind the batteries in my head go dead. I always wish I could program in some gym time on a regular basis, but that’s gone by the wayside.
The answer on the weekends is to unplug. Send out the email, set up the notification (“I’m away and will have limited access yada yada yada), walk out the door while turning the Blackberry and the Android smartphone off. When I get home, put the phones, laptop and tablet next to the home workstation (where more work is done weeknights), pull out the secret weapon from the drawer, and lock the door behind me.
The secret weapon? A Nokia “dumb phone”. It does two things – calls, and SMS. And it has a flashlight. The SIM in it is a prepaid that only the person related to me by marriage has the number to. (An emergency is an emergency.) The next time I touch any of the stuff in my home office is Monday morning. For the rest of the Unplugged Weekend, I ban connectivity.
First activity of Unplugged Weekend is usually a long walk, sometimes with the DSLR, sometimes without anything else. It’s funny, the things you notice.
One time, I came across a pay phone. Anyone remember those? Fortunately it was working, and that I had the right change in my pocket. So I picked up the phone, dropped the coins in, and was stuck. I realized the only phone numbers I knew were my own and my wife’s. My contact list was locked away in my home office. I was locked away behind Google and the internet. Before cellphones I could remember the phone numbers of all my closest friends and mates at work. Today, Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr govern my relationships.
I wish every weekend could be an Unplugged Weekend. People don’t understand why anyone would want to not have all the information you could ever want at your fingertips. To have the world in your pocket. When I’m unplugged, I may not see the World (Wide Web), by MY World is brought back into focus. I don’t mind not knowing everything instantly for a couple of days.