Typically, when I discuss stepping back to grow it is in the context of moving sideways or even backwards in a career in order to gain the experiences needed that will help you to spring forward. Filmmaker and author Tiffany Shlain has made a lifestyle choice that is a twist on this concept—every week Tiffany “steps back” by turning off her electronic devices and spending time enjoying the relationships in her life. These “technology Shabbats” give her mind space to decompress, analyze information, and ultimately be more creative.

Looking at her biography, you would not assume that Tiffany would be one to step back from technology. Early in her career she founded The Webby Awards, and in the 90’s partnered with other like-minded individuals to champion the importance of the internet in everyday life. While she was able to dream of the internet’s potential, she never envisioned what she sees today: people staring at smart phones, completely disengaged from the “real world.”

While still embracing the advantages of technology, especially in regards to filmmaking and connecting with audiences, Tiffany’s family has also embraced their day off from the bombardment of digital information that is always surrounding us.

“It’s all of our favorite day of the week and it’s brought just clarity and perspective…I think that we have forgotten how valuable it is to really not be stimulated all the time. And we need that. We need that to have the great productivity and thoughts and creativity and all those other things, and presence.”

Tiffany points out that many cultures have historically integrated a day off each week for religious observation, and there is a reason this practice has persisted for 3,000 years. Join us as we discuss Tiffany’s new book, how she “unplugs” for a day each week, and tips for what we can do to give our minds an opportunity to be creative in a 24/7 world.

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Takeaways from this episode:

  • With the bombardment of information in this digital age it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to slow down, mentally and physically. Tiffany advocates for practices that bring balance and beauty into life, such as yoga and meditation, that are accessible to all individuals regardless of religious beliefs.
  • Tiffany also believes that “rest” can be considered a type of technology, as it enables us to be more efficient and save time (the ultimate purpose of technology).
  • Technology provides great value, so Tiffany does not advocate giving it up altogether. Moderation and intentionality are important in harnessing its power.
  • Research shows that our brain needs time off to be creative. Creativity is making unusual connections, and when our brain can process existing information it is better able to fill in the gaps and make new connections.
  • Tips for handling our technology:
    • Change your notification settings to only alert you when a “Favorite” is sending you a message, then schedule the times that you will look at your phone. Choose to look, rather than have your device force you to notice and act on a different schedule.
    • Don’t look at your phone when you first wake up. Tiffany likes to take 25 minutes to read a book, drink her coffee, and write in her “5 Minute Journal” before she picks up her phone. This allows her time to decide what to focus on that day and what will make each day great.
    • At the end of the day, read a book to quiet your mind.
    • If you decide to take a “Technology Shabbat,” print out or write out your calendar the day before. Look into getting a “land line” telephone as well, and let people know that it is the best way to get in touch with you on your tech day off.
    • Check out com for more resources.

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