No Modem Sunday #3

A yellow rose in a purple background, watercolor and gouache

I was listening to a podcast this afternoon about a creative business owner who took a long internet break from her business.

It got me thinking how my generation was the last one to have known a world without Internet, at least without it’s “normal” invasive presence.

We all make a huge deal every time we take a break from the internet and then we come back with a grand announcement. Very few people actually care about these self-imposed breaks. We are all too self-absorbed but it seems such a huge gesture because we have forgotten how to be without it. And some people will never know how it feels.

The problem with long Internet breaks is that the moment you come back, it’s like you never left. It’s like opening a closet that is full to the brim. The out of sight, out of mind is true, but the moment you open the door you are flooded with information, with requests, with infinite content.

After I took my two month break we started to implement No Modem Sundays. We used to unplug the modem once a month, now we’re doing it every Sunday. No excuses.

A Little but Often

If you agree that shorter but more regular workouts are better than a three hour workout once a week, then you would agree that physically unplugging for a day every week is better than unplugging for two or three months at a time and then coming back to play catch-up.

Any kind of break after becoming exhausted is met with a violent return to reality. Nobody likes coming back from vacation, not because of work but because the routine is merciless.

So why would you unplug?

Check all that apply.

Because you are:

  • Mentally and visually tired
  • Feeling uncreative.
  • Having negative feelings like jealousy, not being good enough, never catching up.
  • Feeling like life is passing you by and it feels like nothing is getting done.
  • Being in constant “research mode”.
  • Avoiding things.
  • Escaping.
  • Making plans that never see the light of day.
  • Bookmarking, pinning, scrolling mindlessly.
  • Feeling like unless you document and share everything your life experience or your work doesn’t exist.

In this post I describe how to unplug. I promise you will feel refreshed like if you’d taken a real vacation. And if you do it once a week without excuses, you will have effectively implemented a routine of constant renewal.

What to do during #nomodemsundays?

Well, a number of things that will give so much satisfaction even if they’re just chores.

Maybe some things are not exciting but they have been hanging over your head for a while and then suddenly they’re not.

Here are some examples of things I’ve done:

  • Photograph bags and items I want to sell or donate (just photograph)
  • Trimming my dog’s hair instead of taking him to the groomer
  • Laundry which included a Marie Kondo super satisfying folding-in-thirds while listening to music.
  • Riding in the car looking out the window all the way and noticing, noticing, noticing..
  • Making taco-flavored popcorn
  • Staying in bed looking at the ceiling.
  • Walking my dog without headphones, letting him sniff to his heart’s content AND preventing him from eating a dirty donut.
  • Cleaning my hard drive (this one is huge because every time I try to do it, I’m distracted by the internet)
  • Reading old journals, mining them for ideas.

Art-making without outside influence.

If you are an artist (of any discipline) this magnificent state of no-distraction is so, so valuable.

I experience that coveted state of flow that can last for an entire afternoon (after already having had brunch, taken a walk in the woods, cleaned the kitchen…)

Results of one Sunday Afternoon:

Unplugging makes the day last longer. Unplugging makes art possible in a way that it can’t be when you are distracted every hour.

So here’s a little invitation:

Join me for #nomodemsunday
Report on Monday with one story or photo of something surprising you did while offline. Or tweet, I’m on Twitter. Don’t forget to tag me!

Do this every week and you will feel mentally recharged, rested and clearheaded. But do remember, you must physically unplug, set on airplane mode and put the phone away (again, read why in this post) as I mentioned there, I let my family know that I won’t be available but at 1PM I check my messages just in case.