Tiffany Shlain explores in her talk how turning off screens one day a week can work wonders on your brain, body, and soul...especially now during the Covid-situation when we are on screens more than ever before. By giving up screens one day a week for over a decade, Internet pioneer and renowned filmmaker Tiffany Shlain and her family have gained more time, productivity, connection, and presence.
Shlain takes us on a thought-provoking and entertaining journey through time and technology, introducing a strategy for flourishing in our 24/7 world. Drawn from the ancient ritual of Shabbat, living 24/6 can work for anyone from any background. With humor and wisdom, Shlain shares her story, offers lessons she has learned, and provides a blueprint for how to do it yourself. ”Bolstered with fascinating and germane facts about neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, and the history of the concept of a day of rest” (Publishers Weekly) the best-selling book 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week makes the case for incorporating this weekly reset into our 24/7 lives, issuing a call to rebalance ourselves and our society.
Read below for a full transcript of the conversation.
Tiffany Shlain - Okay, let me just... I'm going to start with just my story which is that in my 20s, I'm from San Francisco super into computers when I was young, and I founded the Webby Awards when I was 26 years old. And there was just a handful of people on the web. I hope you can remember that time because now it's so much a part of our lives, but back then there was no iPhone. This is 1996, And that's Bimbos in case, those of you from the Bay Area that's Bimbos nightclub in San Francisco. And I wanted to create an award show to honor the best of the web. And at that time our goal for the web was that it was going to connect people from all over the world and ideas, and it's going to be this amazing medium. Now, this was of course these photos are before the pandemic or else they'd all be wearing masks. But this is kind of what the world has become where everybody's kind of staring at their screen and phone all the time. And it's certainly not what the early vision that I had or the people in the early days of the web had where it feels like we're constantly distracted all the time. And there's business models behind the feeling that you can't take your eyes off the screen. And this is from one of my movies, I'm a filmmaker and I make a lot of movies about how technology is changing the way that we live, and the way I feel lately especially when I'm kind of doom strolling, is like I fall down a rabbit hole and hours go by like, "Oh my God, get me out of here."
So, I feel like I don't want to live in a world where we're all in these separate devices all the time. And it was not the original vision that we had when we started the web early on. I feel like in some ways, like that scene from Frankenstein especially in the last week with the events that have happened where a lot of misinformation has been amplified and spread and cause people to be radicalized, it's like this invention got out of control. And it was actually very interesting, was very interesting that having the tech companies really being able to contain the situation and it just shows you the power structure that has happened in our society. And really what's happening is that the internet has really changed a lot of the way that our brain works. I don't know if I could see you all now, I'd say, how many of you read books differently where you can't concentrate as long as you used to? Yes, obviously I am. Wait one second, I know this is like a funny zoo moment, but there's something happening with my dog it is barking so much, let me just try to still that, wait one second. Oh my gosh! I don't know if I'm going to be able to, okay. I'm going to have to keep going because we're living in the COVID world and my dog is barking and I'm just going to try to tune that. Okay, so anyways, it is truly changing our brain. I grew up with my father operated on the brain, wrote about the brain. I have made many, many movies about neuroscience and I'm very interested in the way that it's changing the way that our brain works. And I can feel the difference in the way that I think or my attention span, I can really feel like my ability to focus has changed.
And I really think that there are amazing things with the web, there are amazing things with being able to look up anything at any time, the fact that we're able to do the Zoom right now, there's so many things I love about the web. But then there are other parts where I know there's always a certain point when I'm on any of these social platforms more than a certain amount of time and it doesn't feel good. And I really, I worry about people losing eye contact with each other, and really about looking up from their screens. And a lot of times I try to make movies to articulate the difference in looking someone in the eye versus being with them when they've got their screen out. And we're reading now more than ever, but I would say that we're skim reading, we are reading the surface of articles and not reading deeply anymore. And I think there's such value for reading deeply. So about 11 years ago, I was like most of us where I was trying to do something and everything was popping up on my screen, and it was very hard to get one idea out without a million notifications coming at me and email, and texts. And I had this very dramatic couple of weeks in my life where my father was diagnosed with brain cancer and I found out I was pregnant. And I had this period of nine months where I thought a lot about the way I was living my life, and how did I want to live it? And then my father did pass away right at nine months and our daughter was born a couple of days later. And I really felt like life was grabbing me by the shoulders and saying, "Focus on what matters, how do you want to live?" And I didn't like the way I was feeling, and I really point this to the iPhone that the invention of the iPhone was 2007 and it really changed everything.
So, at the early days of the web the excitement was about all the things that the web could do, but as soon as it was all on your phone, you could take it with you everywhere and suddenly the whole world was with you every second. And so, this was 11 years ago, I had just lost my father, I just had a daughter with my husband, and I should say we're Jewish, and we are not religious Jews but occasionally we would do Shabbat. And for those of you that don't know what that is, it's the Sabbath, Shabbat it's one day a week where a lot of Jews will light the candles, have a special meal. But it's really only Orthodox Jews, or very religious Christians that we'll do a full day of rest. It is the Fourth Commandment, actually in the Bible is take a day of rest. It's actually above, "Do not commit murder" the Fifth Commandment, which is kind of interesting that it's above that, "Take a full day of rest". But right now in our modern society, really only very observant religious people do that day of rest. But I, 11 years ago someone who did partial versions of Shabbat, meaning we would light the candles have a nice meal like maybe once a month, we decided to turn off all of our screens from Friday night to Saturday night. And we were part of this group that was doing a National Day of Unplugging, and the idea was that we were going to turn off our screens. Now, my husband and I now call them our Technology Shabbats. But basically 11 years ago when I turned off the screens from Friday night to Saturday night, it was the most amazing oasis of calm. It was like I immediately turned off the world and turn back on my inner world.
And not only that, but I felt more creative and productive and happier, and we just never stopped doing it week after week. It became such a strong ritual in our life, and it gave back so much to us. And there's a term that's, some people talk about Shabbat as a palace in time. And I love this idea so much because you think of a lot of palaces in space, but this is about creating in your own home one day that feels different than all the other days. And it really does in my home, we always have people over for dinner on Friday night, lately we have them at a distance outside our backyard, but Friday night it's very social and we always remind people, "Don't bring a phone because we don't use them on that night," and they don't and everyone loves it. And the conversation flows in such a more powerful way. I laugh more, I just find like I'm just so, everyone's much more engaged in the conversation. And then the next day is much quieter and this is the real power of the day I think is, and the social part's important for sure especially right now. But Saturday is much more still, I do a lot of reading and thinking, we usually go out in nature for a walk, but I find like I can check back in with myself. I just heard this quote by Rumi who's one of my favorite poets, and the poem was, "Be sure to schedule times to check in with yourself". And I was like, "Oh my gosh, that's my Tech Shabbats." Those are my days to check back in with myself because the other six days I'm looking at the news, I'm responding to emails, I'm responding to texts from my family and my friends. And I'm in a constant state of being responsive to the world instead of really checking in on what I'm thinking about and what I'm feeling.
So this idea of a palace in time is very powerful to me. I saw some questions came in earlier about kids and I have two kids. So now I have one that's 17 years old who has done it for 11 years, and then I have an 11-year-old who's the one that was born. And it is the best thing I've ever done as a parent, even our 17 year old daughter at the beginning of the pandemic, she said, "Tech Shabbats are the only day I don't feel like I'm in quarantine," because it's this day that hasn't changed. Everything else has changed in our life except this one day that feels sacred and special, we do things in nature. She doesn't have to do homework and teens are under so much pressure right now for homework. She can't do homework, we don't let her, we're like, "All the screens are away, no homework today." And there's so much research on how, if you truly take a day of rest your productivity will be so much greater. But right now what's happening is we're never taking a day of rest because even the phone is a combination of so many things. I mean, work and pleasure, but even pleasure is like posting a photo, and writing a Woody caption and checking to see if people responded. So, on some level that becomes work too. And I really believe that our modern society that rests means turning off the screens. Most people want to know exactly what it looks like. Our kids are much younger in that shot. But, 6:30 on Friday night every screen goes off, that's no TV, no screens. And we have that dinner that I told you about. And then Saturdays just filled with things we love to do, we play music, we do art, we go out in nature.
Saturdays we do nothing, there's a lot of napping, there's cooking, but it's a day that, again very different. Sometimes we have people over at a distance right now, but there's no phones, we just telling we don't, everyone knows in our life at this point, we went on a hike last Saturday and everyone had their phones away. So it's just feels very different. And as a filmmaker, I'm super interested in creativity and I look at it almost like an athlete because I'm making films all the time, What's my most creative state? And the truth is, is that, first of all I sleep the best on Friday night. And I do because my phone is not in my room. And there's so much research that backs that up, but I sleep so well. And the other thing I'd say is that I am appreciating things in totally different detail. And I think that the internet leaves you in a state of constantly wanting more. You want the next news headline, you want the next email, you want the next social media notification. You're just constantly wanting more. But when I turn off the screens, this incredible thing happens where I appreciate what's right in front of me, the garden, my home, the food I'm eating. I'm just suddenly switched from a state of being hungry for more, to being grateful and satisfied with what's right in front of me. And when you look up from the screen there's so much beauty, there's so much right in front of you, but I feel like we go from right now we're at our laptop screen, to our iPad screen, to your phone screen. And sometimes you just never even look up.
And when you look up, there's so much right in front of you and we kind of forget where we are or how to be present. The other thing is creatively there's so much neuroscience research that you have your best ideas when your brain goes into something called the default mode network. And the default mode network is when your mind is on its own. It's not being influenced by the news and email, and texts, and social media notifications it's on its own. And that's why like, you'll probably have a lot of your best ideas when you're doing the dishes, or in the shower, or on a walk, it's because your mind is able to kind of make an unusual connection. But right now we're living in a way where we're stuffing so much new input into our minds all the time. We never give it space to not be listening to a podcast or looking at the news. And there's so much valuable research to back up why it's good to let your brain have silence, and that's not listening to a podcast, that's really like silences, actually you need two hours of silence every day to regenerate cells in your hippocampus. And as I'm getting older, I'm really thinking about that. Like my inclinations, that's what I get in the shower will be "Turn on NPR," and I'm like, "Don't turn on NPR, just take a shower, just let your brain and have that magic time." And I find that on my Tech Shabbats, I spent a lot of time daydreaming and that is one of my favorite parts of this day with no screens. I think about things in a totally different way. I feel like I'm letting my mind digest and process all that I've learned that whole week. And some of my best ideas come from processing and not getting anything new in. And I think that productivity is really interesting because I'm always feeling the most productive on Sunday. And my husband used to do full days of Shabbat, he's a professor of robotics at UC Berkeley. And he was studying in Israel graduate school, and the whole country shuts down for Shabbat and no buses, nothing, you can't do anything.
And I remember he said, "I couldn't believe that he did that," and he used to really resist it. And then he realized he loved having that day off and knowing the whole country was off. And then on Sunday he felt so productive. And actually Sunday in Israel is kind of like their Mondays, they only take one day a weekend off and I'm not promoting that. But I do think it's interesting that they just need one day, and obviously we all know Israel is a very productive industrialist country. They only take one day off. And I think if you took one true day off that you would have enough energy to have it ripple throughout the week. And I certainly feel that way from doing this practice for 11 years. And then the other interesting thing is every Friday I can't wait to turn off all the screens for my Tech Shabbat. Then this thing happens on Saturday, I'm excited to go back online, what happened? The person I was thinking of that I wanted to contact, so it has this dual effect every week where I can't wait to turn them off and I'm excited to turn them back on. So I kind of re-appreciate living in the 21st century and how great that is. And there's so much neuroscience that talks about, "The things you strengthen, the things you do more of you're going to strengthens and the things you don't do you will weaken". So I feel like my Tech Shabbat, I'm thinking a lot of what I'm grateful for. It has such a good sense of my wellbeing. And I'm reading, I'm thinking, I'm being present. These are all qualities I want to increase in my life. And if you don't make space in that for them, those things won't happen on their own. So if you spend all your time being stressed out from the news and stressed out, and working too hard so you're never taking a break. You're strengthening that part of your brain too which is the stress part of your brain.
The amygdala, the fear, like, "Oh my God, what happened next on the news?" Or "Did I miss that email?" And instead of you carve out a day each week to summon or focus on the things I really want to strengthen gratitude, sleep, creativity. I laugh a lot more on my Tech Shabbats and all my best ideas, and I'm a big journal writer, so I track it. They always come on Saturday. All the good ideas are from Saturday, they're not from the other six, the other six days, I'm like input, process, but the best ideas come on Saturday. So this is my proposal to all of you that were online all the time. And to just spend one day where you're turning off the world, and you're turning back in what's right in front of you, and the things and the thoughts that you're checking back in with yourself. one second, I'm going to know why this isn't going, I'm going to stop that. I think that one of the things that I'll say is that the ripple effect on the other six days is amazing, and the longer we did this, I never thought I was going to write a book about it. Yeah I'm a filmmaker, but the longer I did it the more benefits that happened, I'm like, "I'm happier, I'm sleeping better, I'm more productive, I'm more creative, my kids are doing better," And they're able to walk outside without their screens with no problem, where most of my friends kids it's very difficult for them to walk out without their phone. And it's like a muscle, I think that every week we do this practice they just know how to exist without it. And we get to show them how to do things without phones, like we've got a record player, we do things that are differently on that one day. And I really think it's been a really valuable ritual for my family. It's the day I feel the most connected to them.
And like, the other days of the week I'm a working mom, I'm trying to do a million things all the time, but it's one day I feel like, it's family day. And a lot of people do this that are single too because I should also say, that's not just if you have kids, it's not just if you're in a relationship, because every great wisdom practice talks about the value of checking in with yourself, of stilling the wind on the water, of hearing what you want in life. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What are you excited about? What are you worried about? If it's noisy all the time and you're distracted on your phone all the time, you'll never make space for that. I don't know why the screen, it wasn't responding. So a lot of people have wondered, "Well how did COVID change this practice for my family?" And it didn't change it at all, it only made our Tech Shabbats 10 times more important. So as there was so much craziness and we had to be on screen so much more for school, and for work, and for social, it even became more important to turn the screens off once a week. It feels like a form of self-defense is the way my husband calls it, it's self-defense to rejuvenate and regroup. And it's the one thing that hasn't changed in our life in the last year. And it was mentioned that I, during the pandemic, the one recipe in my book is this challah I make every Friday. And so, during the pandemic I've been doing a Zoom Challah Bake and having special guests. And we have hundreds of people from all over the world make baking together, and I'll talk about the pandemic and the election and all sorts of stuff. And so, that to me is like the best example of the web. I mean, we've seen it during the pandemic.
The web has so many incredible qualities and uses, but there's a lot of things that aren't so great about it, like we saw last week and when we're on too much. And as my 11-year-old daughter once said, "You're never going to get to the end of your life thinking, 'I wish I spent more time scrolling on my screen.'" And I think that's very true, I do a lot of my work, this is where I am right now in my library, I'm Zooming all over. I can't wait to do it in person again, we also got a puppy which has totally changed our lives. And I say that because puppies are like living Tech Shabbats because they're all about being present, taking walks, being in the moment. And that's so much what these days are for us. And I spent a lot of time thinking, I feel like the pandemic to the world was very similar to that moment I was in my life where, when my dad died and my daughter was born, it was like, "What matters, what's important?" That's what I felt like life was saying to me, and I think during the pandemic everyone's been asked, "What matters, what's important?" And those are really important moments in your life to have to re-ask those questions. "What's essential? When do I feel good? What makes me happy? When do I feel like I'm present?" And I do think a lot about, especially during the pandemic because I used to travel all the time giving talks and I'm going nowhere, except here. But I do think we should think about screen time like we think of nutrition, like every day their screen time, because we're all living in the pandemic and we're working online, but leave some time for mind wondering, leave some time for going outside.
This is for each day, and I should also say that in my book "24/6" I have a big section of things I do the other six days of the week to keep myself from being on a screen too much. But I wrote all this down in this book "24/6", and it's both my own thoughts about technology which I have a lot about, and a lot of hopes for them, and things I think we need to curb. So there's ideas about self-regulation for the government, but then there's self-regulation for ourselves. This is something you could do this weekend. You could start Friday and say, "I'm going to turn off the screens for one day and see how it feels." And I promise you, I just turned 50 this year and it is the best thing I've ever done in my life, to create this day, this time to focus on the best qualities of life instead of wanting more appreciating what I already have. And I think at that, I think a lot about the future of our species and what kind of world we want to live in. Do we want to live in a world where there's no reflection and that we're just on the screens all the time? I don't think so. And I'm going to not show you that movie, I'm going to say that to the end, but I'm actually going to open it up to Q and A right now, which is very exciting for me because then I get to see all your faces. So I'm going to stop screen sharing, let's see if this is all going to work. And I am going to see all of you, Yay! Okay, cool. So there's a lot of you here, which is awesome because I know this topic is very interesting. That was the other interesting thing, my book came out fall 2019, and obviously it was a big issue then because everyone felt like they were on screens too much, and I was walking down the streets in New York and everyone's just staring at their phone.
And then the pandemic happened and it's even more important because people are burning out, they're burning out, there on the screen all the time. So, I am here to answer your questions right now, I'm sure this will be very lively, I'd love it. Now, the way that we're going to do this, let me just see. I know that you can ask your questions in the chat. And okay. I'm going to go to the chat, unless anyone wants to be brave and speak on camera. But while you're figuring out if you have the courage to do that, which I would love. I'm going to put on my glasses and read some of these questions, okay. How do you let people know you're not available? Okay, that's a great question. So in my book I lay it out, is not hard. And I think a lot of it is preparing other people in your life. So first of all, those of you that work for other people, I mean, I run my own studio, so I'm just talking to myself, but I also talk to my staff. If anyone on my team said to me, "Tiffany, I'm feeling really burnt out. I feel like I will be a better employee to you if I can take one day where I'm not reachable on text or email, I need one complete day off. And I will be able to give back so much more to you, I don't know any." Wait, Bluma wants to come, do you want to come and say hi? Okay, my daughter has just walked in and wants to say hi. This is Bluma. You can say hi, okay. So that's for work. I'll do that in a second, okay. But then for friends and family, we have a landline. How many of you are in California? Is this first Republic all throughout the United States for most, I'm going through the screens here, California? Mostly California, okay. Here's what I'll tell you.
Having a landline is a really good thing to have in your house. We have earthquakes, we have fires, there've been times where my cell phone was down. It's a very inexpensive old technology that we have in our home. So if anyone really needs to reach us for an emergency, they have, we call it our bat phone. They have the landline. If we really need to call someone, or sometimes I'll call my mom, I just want to talk to her on Tech Shabbat, I use that phone. But it's not a portal to news, and email, and work, and everything else, and I love that boundary. And my friends know, I usually I'm on Instagram and Twitter, I'm on all the social poisons of social media. And usually at Friday at like 5:30, before I go off, I do a post and I'm like, "Oh my God I can't wait to get off the screens" which is the way I feel every week, especially last week. And I'd say, "I'll see you on the other side." And it's fun for me. It lets them know, remind them I'm doing it. I think it makes people go, "Ooh I could do that," which I love. But I have very simple things that you can do with your family and friends. And I also have an auto-response that I don't use as much because most people in my life, I wrote this book, everyone knows I do it. But there's a hack that I have on my website you can do, when someone texts you, that's the biggest concern, you're like, "What if some texts me and they don't know I'm doing a Tech Shabbat." You know how when you're driving and it says, "Sorry that person's driving."
There's a way you can edit that language, so you can turn on that feature on Tech Shabbat that says, "I'm just taking a day off, I will get back to you tomorrow." I just need a day to just regroup. And everyone understands. I mean, when I first started doing Tech Shabbats 11 years ago, the words digital detox, addiction with tech, that was not part of the language. I had to train a lot of people that I knew for my own brand I had to do this. But now I feel like everyone's talking about mental health, burnout, Zoom fatigue. I think it would be very accepted if you told people that. Let's see, silent retreats every month. I've never done a silent retreat, but I would like to do that. Yes, Israel takes Friday off from the afternoon, right. But they guess they don't do a traditional weekend. In my book 24/6, I went into a whole chapter of the history of time on and time off, because it's really interesting. our country in America fought bloody battles in the streets of Chicago fighting for the weekend from the labor movement. But it's really interesting, we fought so hard for this two-day weekend and now we just give it away, we're available to everyone and everything all weekend off, we don't get a break. So, in the book I actually went through the history, there was a period in Russia and the Soviet Union they had nine-day weeks. I mean, it's a very interesting thing to just think about what's a healthy way to live? And I really think that the fact that Shabbat or the Sabbath, again I'm taking it from a non-religious way, and if you're doing it for religious reasons that's totally beautiful too.
But for me, what was most exciting is discovering this practice that is so wise and it's over 4,000 years old. And any practice it's over 4,000 years old, I want to look at. I do yoga and meditation; those are not from my cultures, but I get great value out of those two things. So I feel like Shabbat the reason why I wanted to open it up, and the reason I called my book 24/6 because for a year it was called Tech Shabbat. because it's kind of a fun word and, but I was like, "I don't want anyone to not read this book because they're like, "Oh, I'm not Jewish, I'm not religious." Cause I'm not, I mean, I'm Jewish, but I'm not religious. And to me, I was trying to get to the essence of the idea which is really about time management. 24/6 is about time management, it says, "I'm going to protect this one day, that's all joy, and love, and gratitude, and presence, and not letting, I'm not responding to people for one day. And one thing I should stay during the pandemic, there's a lot of people that they might live on their own, their family's far away, they're like, "Well, Zoom is the way I'm connecting, so what do you do?" And I will say that even my family, during the beginning of the pandemic, we would light our Shabbat candles with family members and other parts of the country as the last thing we did online on Friday. We'd see everyone beautiful connection and then turn the screen off, and then when we went back on the first thing we did was connect with them. So, there's ways to sandwich the day, but I have to say the book has been out for a year and some change now. There's so many people doing it.
Single people, older people, younger people, people without kids, people with kids, it works for everyone. The framing might be different on why you're doing it. There's a lot of people are doing because with kids, I'll tell you it is the biggest battle. The other six days are much harder for me in terms of, I have an 11-year-old and a 17-year-old. And I do other things throughout the week, like I don't look at my phone when I wake up, I write in my journal. I do all of these and there's no screens at the table, and I talk about that in the book too. But if you have kids it is. How many of you on here have kids and it's an issue. Screens, yeah, it's the issue. I mean, when I was growing up, I watched a lot of bad television like Brady Bunch, and Three's Company and Marc and Mandy and whatever those shows were, but there was such a boundary because the parent, they could turn it off, it wasn't in the bedroom. And that was the other thing is we used to allow no screens in the bedroom and then the pandemic happened and they're in school. They have a whole studio in their bedroom now. And so, I keep reminding the kids when the pandemic ends we're going back to no screens in the bedroom because we still have them take them out of their room at 9:00 PM, but it's every night a reminder. This is like, even as much as I struggle like every other parent, the other six days, I think "Thank God we do Tech Shabbats," it's the one day there's no discussion, it's not up for discussion. And that's the day I feel the most connected to them, it's the day they open up the most to me, it's the day I feel as connected as a family.
And my daughter, she wrote it, she just applied to college and she wrote about it, it's included in her essay that how much it has allowed her to not have what she sees as the kind of teen burnout. That a lot of her friends that are doing homework all the time, or applying to colleges, even she's been applying to colleges like, "I can't do it on Saturday”, and she got a day off. We all need that. Okay, Let me see. What about listening to music? Okay, I'm glad you asked that. So we all play music here, I play the ukulele, my husband and daughter electric guitar, my other daughter the acoustic guitar, we love music. Beginning of the pandemic we got a record player, because we thought let's teach them about and we have a really cool record store Mill Valley Music and it was super fun. Just to get into albums again and just remember how much fun that was. And then Alexa came out and that was an exception for us because we could play music, but it wasn't like we were going down the rabbit hole. The other exception I'll share with you is my daughters like to read on Kindle. I don't read on Kindle, but it's a big reading day for us. We will sometimes I'll be in living room reading, and it's the one day that that's like a group activity. And they don't only read on Kindle, but sometimes there's a book on Kindle and that's an exception cause they're not, again going down the rabbit hole of the whole world. And I talk about this in the book. You know your family or your own life, and there's going to be certain exceptions that work for you. But I like the boundaries, I think boundaries set you free.
The biggest word I use to describe my Tech Shabbats is I feel liberated. I feel liberated from obligations of expectations, of response time, of the stress of the news, of the stress of the world for one day. And I think the boundaries are very powerful. When I was starting the Webby Awards in the early days of tech world, what's so exciting about technology is it removed the boundaries. You could work from the beach, don't want from the beach. I think we removed too many boundaries, and you can work from the bathroom, we need some boundaries back, get the work out of the bedroom. Like it became too squishy so you're never on vacation, you're never taking a break. And I want to bring the weekend back, and I want to bring this idea of you one day, that's all I'm saying. I mean, one day I have a clear boundary and see how you feel. And I promise you every week, I'm like, "Oh I feel so much better." Every week it's so big every week for me. And when it wasn't during the pandemic, I was traveling a lot, and it was always a couple of times a year where Ken and I had a conference with some reason we were traveling, and we couldn't do it. And it always felt bad afterwards. Like, as my daughter said, she does Junior State of America, whatever. Oh my God, there's 340 of you here, that's fantastic. I just saw the number, is it? Oh my God, so great. And she said, "I just feel like I didn't recharge. I didn't get a day to recharge." And that's totally the way I feel when I don't do it. But I've made a couple of exceptions during the pandemic. There was a shiver, someone died obviously I'm going to go online for that.
We're human life happens but we have done Tech Shabbats with two kids in soccer. All you do on Friday, I have a Sharpie, I like to write in Sharpie. And I write what are the couple things we have Saturday, but you know what? We try not to plan too much for Saturday. I think we're planning way too many things for our kids and for ourselves. So for one day, it's like, "But we did it with two kids separate fields." On Friday, I would write the fields, I always had one friend on the team, and I'd say, listen, call me on a landline if the field changes. because one time I went to the wrong field. But other than that nothing's ever happened. Have I missed anything in 11 years? No. Because I was focused on the right things, and I think we think, "Oh my God, what if I don't?" It's so freeing to actually not know for one day to just be with the people that you're with and you can have friends over and just tell them, "Let's do a no phone hike." "Let's have a no phone at a distance walk." Ooh, Christine, are you raising your hand because you want to speak on camera? I'm going to unmute you maybe, yes, I am. Hi.
Audience Member - Hi, so, and this is less a question more just to thank you and really, really appreciate the whole message behind what you're doing and sharing with a bigger audience. Everyone isn't picking up books and reading your book right now, but this is a nice little nugget. I do read a lot more now because of the pandemic. And I will say my observation is that I spent all day Saturday doing nothing this last weekend, which was very difficult for me. I have a job where I can work seven days a week just based on what I do. And it's really easy in normal times per se to feel like, "Oh, I can take an appointment this weekend. I can do this; I can do that." And to not be bogged down with that right now is so freeing. I should be working; I've been mopping my floors. I'm thinking to myself, "I really should be working," but this is really satisfying, no music, no nothing. You think you can put the podcast on.
Tiffany - I think that it's interesting with the podcast. Thank you so much. I think that I listen to podcasts and I've been taken a lot of walks with my dog because I have a puppy. But I'm really trying to take walks, so I just take a walk, and I'm not calling my girlfriend, I'm not listening to a podcast, I'm just taking a walk. And again, I'm 50 now two hours a day silence, regenerates cells in your hippocampus. Like just purely on the... I have a lot of science in the book. So a lot of people ask, I'm sure somebody in this Q and A when I read more, what if I want to do it, but my partner won't do it? Okay, there's always in every relationship, one person is more addicted than the next. I will usually say hand them the book, because some people need to read all the science I have in the book and then they want to do it. Some people need to hear the emotional story and then they'll do it. Some people need to hear the parent's story. Some people need to hear the tech history, "Oh my God, what have we done with the business model of tech," and that speaks to them. So I would really recommend that. And I have different ways to have conversations with kids of different ages, because if you give a three-year-old, you're in total control. It's a very different conversation than with a five-year old, than 11-year-old, than my 17-year-old who's almost out of my house. What I feel so good about is she's about to leave but she has this ritual that she knows is like her secret sauce to keeping balanced. Okay, so I'm going to go more questions. Do you use your phone as a phone on Tech Shabbat? I do not, I put it, I don't really want to look at it, and I love my phone. My husband I'll tell you, he feels more comfortable having it in his pocket on airplane mode.
I don't even, to me it's like out of sight out of mind, but for him that's what he needs to do, in case something I don't know. And we've gotten lost before on the way to a basketball game for one of our kids, and he will be the one I'll be like, "Okay, pull it out." We've asked people for directions and he'll pull out the GPS. So he's like our emergency person, but I don't even want to look at it because I'll tell you there's research. Even seeing this off makes you less focused. At my film studio, after I read research that seeing somebody else's phone off made you less present, I had a rule at my film studio that everyone had the zip in their phones and put them in their bags. They could check them when they went to the bathroom, they went on a break, they can take a break as many times as they want, but I don't want to be at a meeting. What used to happen, everyone had their phone on their desk, and they were all on vibrate, and it was like vibration orchestra. And I couldn't focus, and I have a hard time focusing, getting into the flows. So, when I did that rule of putting the phones away, it was huge and even when you go out for a meal, that's why even when we have dinner even if the phones are off no screens in visual sight. So, I find it more powerful on this day off that, I don't want to look at a screen, because it'll remind me, "Oh, what's on that screen?" I don't want to think about that. Okay, the other question is, I work in an industry that does not naturally respect weekends. Okay, I have a diverse clientele. Good, I'm glad you asked that. My father was an emergency room surgeon. Do you remember beepers?
Can I remind you all of beepers, when only doctors and drug dealers used to have beepers? My father who was the busiest man when I was growing up, he worked so much, but he always was able to go on call to his best friend who was a doctor he totally respected. So I would say, whatever industry because there's always a couple people and talk like, "Oh my God I'm at this, I can never be off call." And I would say to you, yes you can. And for one day a weekend, is there someone you respected but you could trade off on this thing to be on call to that person? So you could truly get one day off, because I find whenever someone says to me, when people find out I take one day and I'm not available, it's respect, because in this society it takes courage to know that you will be a better person to that client if you really take that one day, one day to replenish and regroup. And I also talk in the book about ways to have that conversation, but I really believe in the long run you're going to burn out. And that is just a smarter time management strategy to take that time. Okay, how do you start with teens and self when we're so addicted? That's a big one, there's some things I've been able to do with my kids. Like my big one is I don't want people looking at the screens, right, when they wake up, like wake up and think about your day before you look at the screen. To all of you too because I know that what happened is, I used to wake up and look at The New York Times app and I was nearly like. And I felt like my adrenaline was going and I was like, "Wait, I don't want to wake up that way." And so, I got something, shoot, I wish I had it right near me, but I talk about it in the book, it's called the five-minute journal. And I think you're all going to get the book. So it's in there, it's a five-minute journal. It's one of the best strategies. It has one page and I have my phone on airplane mode because it is my alarm clock. I tried a whole bunch of other alarm clocks, none of them have worked. But I wake up, my phone wakes me up, but it's not working as a phone, it's an alarm clock. I go to get my coffee; I open my five-minute journal. It has three lines on it. It says, "What are three things you're grateful for?" And all my research on gratitude is don't write the same thing, don't write your health, your home, whatever, be very specific.
Then you're never repeating yourself and you're noticing more things to be grateful for. So it has three lines on it, that's taken me like three minutes. The next three lines say, "What are three things that would make today great?" And I have to think about my day, "What's happening in my day?" "Oh, I have that meeting, I'd like to talk with First Republic. I hope I exercise the puppy for like an hour. I think about the day what would make it great? Okay, that took five minutes and I wasn't looking at my phone, and I was setting my intention for the day. But then at the end of the day, I go back to that notebook instead of ending my day with the phone. Because you know what, if you end the day with the phone there's inevitably going to be one tweet, email, headline that's going to stress you out, and I have problems sleeping. "How many of you have problems sleeping?" because that is like this will not make me not feel alone. It's one of the biggest things for me to thank you everyone, to make me sleep okay. And so I don't do that, or even it's something you see on social media suddenly it's in your dreams, like, "I don't want that in my dreams." So by the end of the day, again with this notebook and all it asks at the end of the day, three more lines, what were three amazing things that happened that day today. And they're totally different than what I thought were going to be amazing. So like now I've just had total sandwich of amazing things and then here's the best thing it says, "What's one thing you wish you did differently today?" A little bit of reflection, I think what, "Oh, shouldn't have, I did that.
I want to work on that." I am telling you having this book, the five minute journal has been such a game changer for me for my other six days, because I don't let my phone set my tone for the day, or set my tone for my sleep which I do so many things for sleeping well, like I take a bath, I use a weighted blanket. Because anything that interrupts my sleep is going to make me a mess the next day. So, here's the biggest thing I will tell you, you are the curator of your brain. You are the curator of your brain. If you're letting your brain everyone have access to it all the time. That's not a good way to treat the most incredible technology that ever existed which is this three-pound brain in your head. And if you think of it with more respect you're going to think "My brain wasn't designed to be on 24/7, not designed. You know when you have a little baby and they're overstimulated and you say, "We should get the baby out it's overstimulated, it's too much noise." We are living in a world of too much noise between the pandemic, and the election, and the way that social media and the business models have designed us to be glued at the screen. You need to have courage to actually say for one day I'm going to turn it off. And the courage at the beginning or the end of the day say, "I'm going to set the tone for the beginning of the day and the end of my day."
Okay, on a day off do you talk on the phone? I sometimes call my mom, but generally no and I love talking on the phone, but one day I don't want to talk too much. I'm not talking as much on Saturday, Friday night it's very social, I should say we always have people over, it's very social and fun. We have them at a distance, now I just got an outdoor heater. But we haven't stopped doing our Friday night Shabbat, the whole pandemic very safely, I have it down, I have a folding table that's very far away from the other table. So it's very social, and we talk about the week, we talk what we're grateful for. It's like Thanksgiving every week. And Saturday is much more silent. It's kind of reading, hanging, journaling, it's much quieter. Is there a setting for auto-responses? So all of you sign up for my newsletter and I'm going to point you to, or maybe I can send an email that will be sent to you with a couple of follow-ups links. Okay, do you do actually exercise and how to change the settings on your phone? I should, okay maybe I will do that, okay. I'm looking for more, do I set up two hour daily quiet time? I don't because I am a working mom. I've got kids, so many people in this house right now, but I I'll tell you getting a dog was one of the most beautiful things, we never could have had a dog because my husband and I both travel a lot, and getting a dog has been... How many of you have a dog or a cat? How many of you have a dog? because we also have a cat, I love both. So dogs, as my mother said, "They're your trainers." I look at my dog, I have to take her for an hour walk a day. And I look to that time as my... During the day like silent and just like being present along with her.
But when I take a shower, I'm trying to not turn on the news or when I wash the dishes, there's certain things that I do that I naturally would turn on something, and I tried to not do that. Which day of the weekend, so I do Friday night to Saturday night because I'm Jewish. And I like doing something with people from all over the world. Some people they do... You can do it on Sunday. I was just hearing something called Acoustic Sundays which is, or Unplugged Saturdays. Some people work on the weekends if you work in the restaurant industry, do it on a Wednesday. My big thing is the ritual, the reason the book was the power of unplugging one day every week, every week I look forward to this and every week it happens. What I'd say any of you is look in your calendar now and put it in your calendar for the whole day four weeks, because say it takes like four weeks to build a ritual and a habit. And I really walk you through how to build this into your life in the book, but you can start this Friday. It's like free, and ancient, and amazing. Okay, let's see. Oh my gosh, there's someone I met at an airport, yes. Let see, how do you handle needing to be on call as a rabbi or a minister? Okay, for real emergencies your landline, but is there a rabbi or minister that you could be on call too? Like my dad as an ER surgeon. How do you manage the anxiety of...? Did you mean to write FOMO of, I think you did, FOMO. This is the great thing is I never have FOMO on the weekend because I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be.
And actually the pandemic my husband and I were joking, because he gets FOMO a lot. He's like, "I love the pandemic, I don't have phone with me more because everyone's just at home." And actually before this Zoom started, I have to share you the new word we came up with. Cause you know the fear that you're not on mute when you're supposed to be on mute. So, FOMU is a new word for like the fear of not being on mute when somebody walks in and you're not supposed to be, okay. Is there any scientific reason it's better to do it from evening to evening rather day? Again, I think what I've got, and I talk about this in the book is that I like ideas that are 3000 years old. And there's something about evening to evening that's lasted this long from all these different cultures, but like Muslims do it on a different day, Christians do it on a different day, Jews do it on a different day, but everyone's got this day that feels different than the other days. And I veer on the agnostic atheist side of things, but I still value the 3000-year idea night to night. And like I told you, I sleep great on Friday night and I'm super excited to go back online Saturday nights. So, it feels really right, I don't need to mess with it, but if you have an unusual schedule or you work in the restaurant industry, it's very flexible. Like my bigger idea is take one day off, really off and don't be on the screen. Okay, how do you advise unplugging for those that are single and live alone totally? So, it's not about being alone, I bet you all have a friend that would be psyched to do this because everyone is burning out right now.
The pandemic has accelerated it. Pick three or four friends and say, "Hey, it's 2021, do you want to do an experiment with me? We're going to employ one day a weekend, and you each day different person picks what we're going to do, and go on a picnic and go to the farmer's market, we can go," whatever's available right now because we're in a pandemic, "Or you can come over and at a distance we can water color, we can play music, we can read in the same outdoor space together." It's not about being alone to me, and I think things are more fun when you do them with other people, but it's really just you're going to be without your phones. You're going to be together or are you going to be parallel being present together. I have an elderly parent. Yes, I do too, I have a landline. Any alternate to the landline? I mean, again, my husband it doesn't bother him, but if it was on an airplane... Okay, here's a hack for your phone. So, during the week I have all notifications off on my phone. I highly recommend this. There are statistics that people look at their phones like crazy number of times a day. I don't have one notification on this phone because I'm constantly looking at it for other things, but there's a hack where you can just let... You know how you have favorites on your iPhone, you can set up your phone so only the people on your favorites get through when you have it on do not disturb or airplane mode. So I have my mom, my kids, my husband, they're the only people that can notify me. So, on my website 24, the numbers 24sixlife.com. You can sign up for my newsletter where I continue to talk about this stuff. And I have a section of resources and I will send them to all of you afterwards.
But I have a section on how to do what I just said, because there's lots of things that the phone companies don't say how to do because they have no impetus to do it, but that you can make your life better. Let's see, what's your opinion about working up to a 24 day? I'm totally up for that. I did it cold Turkey and it was great because I had just lost my dad and my daughter was born and I was like, "Help me bring something back to my life." But I think those of you, what if you just tried dinner? Like, and I think they visually need to be off in somewhere. I like the whole day because to me, I don't know there's some people that say, "Oh, I don't look at my phone before I go to bed," or "I don't bring my laptop on vacation" and those were all great. But it's the whole danus to me that is the power. And in fact I have a lot of friends that are Jewish that do Shabbat just the Friday night dinner. I would say 98% of Jews I know if they say they do Shabbat that's what they mean, lighting of the candles and having a nice dinner on Friday night, which is beautiful. I don't know any that do the next day. And to me, it's that whole cycle of the social and then the silence and the length of that quieter introspective in a world day. So I'm totally for you working up to it and I also think that if you really want to experience how great it is, it's about like... The way my daughter describes it, it's like the deepest vacation for one day every week. It just feels so deep. So okay, oh my gosh, we're also running out of time. Okay, you're all amazing. We have chickens and we take them on walks, that's amazing.
Okay, I think I'm supposed to let someone close us out, but you've all been so great. I will try to see if I can send a follow-up to those of you that have registered. And I think you're also getting the book and let's stay connected because it's a really important conversation. I'm on Instagram and Twitter and all those places, but it's an ongoing thing. Our world has changed so much in the last 10 months and staying human amidst it all is really important. So, thank you.