Computer-Free Mondays

Developer Workaholism Experiment #1

My first foray into ways to attenuate my web development workaholism has been experimenting with “computer-free Mondays.” It’s my adaptation of the practice of “unplugging” one day per week.

Even though I frequently run across enthusiastic articles about “unplugging,” there are a number of reasons that it’s never appealed to me. For example:

  • It means no phone calls or texts, which aren’t a problem for me. I’m an introvert who’s prone to cauliflower-ear, so I don’t over-indulge – and it’s a primary way to stay in touch with family, which is very high priority.
  • Alternatively, cutting off “the Internet” isn’t enough for me. It’s easy to code without connecting to it. Actually, I do that almost every weekend, given my email proclivities.
  • Being off email on weekends, my coding creativity often surges. That’s not something I want to risk losing.

Thus my knee-jerk reaction has been to reject it. That said, “unplugging once a week” is SMART. And SMART practices are precious commodities for taming this beast of mine. So how to adapt it?

To my surprise, it turns out the biggest barrier for me was finding a day of the week. Weekends (the obvious choice) were out because of that creativity time. But then I remembered one of my few heroes, Gandhi, always had “Silent Mondays.” For years, Gandhi spent every Monday in silence, no matter who came to meet him. Moreover, Monday is a day many religious professionals have their “weekend.”

This simple notion – Mondays – propelled me over my hump. As soon as I wrapped my mind around Mondays, everything else fell into place with very little thought. As of last week, the specific parameters are for my Mondays became:

  1. The timing runs like Gandhi’s, i.e., midnight to midnight ever Monday.
  2. Don’t use my laptop at all. Period.
  3. The only apps on my mobile that are OK to use are phone, texts, calendar, and camera.
  4. Don’t indulge in introspection. (My goal has to do with awakening, not psychological study or healing.)
  5. Do a hefty amount of zazen.
  6. Exercise.
  7. Have fun.

I began this past Monday – and it was better than I dreamed possible. I literally felt “shiny” (à la Kaylee of Firefly).

Cover of “Firefly.” Shiny Kaylee: front row, far right.

In September I’ll reassess, but, given how liberating this first Monday was, I’d be amazed if I don’t keep it up.