Book: Sabbath

I had Digital Sabbath #3 yesterday. I turned off my phone and computer Friday at sundown and didn’t turn them back on until Sunday morning. I’m starting to enjoy the pattern and had a lot of relief yesterday from the complete disconnect. We had dinner at our house with friends Friday night, Amy and I did some stuff in the morning together, I went for a 9 mile run, took a nap in the afternoon, and we had dinner last night with friends and then watched some comedy on tv afterwards. My brain was less chaotic yesterday and I was able to settle into a calmer state over the course of the day than I had been the previous two weekends.

Last weekend a read a book by Wayne Muller called Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives. I was a little apprehensive about the book, but it was recommended by a few people including Amy. It was extraordinary and just what I needed to begin to understand the need for a real day of rest out of every seven days.

While I’m not religious, I’ve got a strong jewish identity. I’ve also lived in Boulder for 17.5 years so it’s hard not to be spiritual. I found as I read the book that I was able to abstract away all the religious references, especially since Muller provides a nice mix of jewish, christian, and buddhist quotes and thoughts. He isn’t bashful about tying the idea of a day of rest back to religion, but he isn’t dogmatic about it, nor is it the dominant thought. Instead, it’s just additional support for the idea from many different cultures and times.

Muller broke the book up into six sections – rest, rhythm, time, happiness, wisdom, and consecration. He then ends with a chapter on the actual sabbath day. Each section has examples and exercises – it’s an easy book to read in one sitting as the tempo of the book is consistent, and the rhythm of each section is enjoyable.

The bonus so far from starting on Friday night is that when I wake up on Sunday I feel rested and in a totally different mode for the “rest of the weekend” than I normally do. And I have no real “I need a weekend” feeling on Sunday as it’s still a relatively chill day, although one that has some work and all the other stimuli of my world woven into it.

I’m going to keep doing digital sabbath for a while and see how it goes. Muller’s Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives helped me understand it a little better.

  • After seeing you at the Boulder Bookstore last week, Craig (my partner) keeps talking about digital sabbath and now has us all turning off electronics a 8p each night.

    • Neat – how is it going?

      • Honestly, it’s really hard for me. I can tell it’s important because it’s already made a big impact with my kids, but it’s hard.

        • Yeah – totally get it. It’s been hard for me also but week three was a lot better than week 1.

  • Dael

    same here. Originally due other reasons, but now I just find it to be the right balance for me.

  • I don’t turn off the electronics, but I do try to separate myself from work for the weekend. I have found that spending a good chunk of the weekend being low key and not in front of a computer has been a big help to maintain my intensity during the week. It also helps to have two kids and two dogs. We always get out for a multi-mile hike on the weekend, which has been a huge difference for me.

    Hope the Sabbatical is helping with your depression.

  • Thanks for the great post Brad. I couldn’t agree more with the need for downtime and digital peace – even if that is only for a few hours!

    I have read quite a few articles by startup founders suggesting that you should jeopardise your own health to build your company and whilst I completely agree that long hours are an essential part of building something great, I think downtime and protecting your health are equally important. I find there are days where I can work 14 straight hours, and other days where I need to switch everything off for a few hours and just chill out.

  • Cool to find someone who isn’t religious still sees the advantages in taking a day of rest.

    My thoughts are that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. That is, I don’t believe the Sabbath should be an inconvenience.

    I’m purposeful about taking a day of rest each week (either Saturday or Sunday – it changes). Instead of a digital Sabbath, I’m focused on only doing things I want to do; in other words, no “work.” I enjoy working out, so a morning run or ride is always on the list. Writing is also something I enjoy, which often comes in the form of email or an interesting blog post. If the writing feels obligatory, it will be postponed until the following day.

    I’ve been doing this for a while now, and like the results. Taking a day of rest, to quote you Brad, makes it easier to wake up the other six days a week thinking, “let’s get going.”

    • exactly the same approach I take

  • I wholeheartedly agree. I started doing this for religious reasons, and came to see the wisdom in it over time. It can be a real struggle as a professional to disconnect one day a week. And it can mean that the rest of your days are going to be a little bit crazier. But I’ve found that *most* people can respect this approach with proper communication up front about expectations.

  • I’m glad you are sticking with it. Reminds me of a gypsy well. Where you have an unclean water source, like a bog, and you dig a whole near it. It will fill up with cleaner water filtered from the ground.

    Create space, it will fill.

  • I’ve got to try this. Maybe start in small increments eg 3hrs, then 6hrs, 9hrs.