You Have to Choose

by Joe Bunting | 29 comments

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Once a week, I turn my computer off for twenty-four hours (I wrote this yesterday). I don't check email. I don't do twitter or answer comments. It centers me, reminds me that life is more than what appears on the screen. I have an addictive personality and so I need these interruptions every once in a while.

But this can really suck sometimes.

Today, a guest post I wrote went live on a very popular blog. In these circumstances, I try to reply to all the comments and share the article on my social networks. On top of that I have about fifty unanswered emails. Lots of comments on The Write Practice I haven't replied to, and in general, a lot of work left to do. It hurts to turn my back on it.

To say yes to life, sometimes you have to say no to work. To spend time with your friends and your family, those people who make life meaningful, you have to stop. You have to put down your computer, turn off your social networks, silence your cell phone, and enter in to a reality that is not virtual but present. Real. Tangible in a way that you can taste and touch and see.

Six days a week we write. One day we stop. I challenge you to join us today.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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  1. Lorithatcher

    Hear, Hear!

    Wow. This ALMOST made me turn off my computer – but I CHOSE not to today, having made committments to others.

    Now I am thinking about which day will be my computer fast. I think I was already coming around to this. Thanks for the trigger.


    • Joe Bunting

      Well done on following through on your commitments. I’ve had this happen before. Sometimes just remembering that it’s SUPPOSED to be a day of rest makes those commitments restful.

  2. Anonymous

    Oh how true, but not easy to do. It seems like Sunday would be my day to leave the computer and cell phone of, but its my catch-up day. Maybe some day I’ll get the chance to rest. Not to say I don’t enjoy my life and family, it’s just that my work takes precedent.

    • Joe Bunting

      I hear you. I work 10-14 hours a day to get that day off. The irony is, it’s 10-14 hours still isn’t enough. I could work 100 hours a week and still have more to do. I rest to remind myself life is about life, not work. There will always be more to do. I don’t want work to take my life from me, as much as I care about it and believe in it.

  3. Melanie Jongsma, Wordsmith

    At the beginning of 2011, I too set a goal to stay off the computer one day a week. I didn’t always succeed, but I succeeded more than if I hadn’t set the goal. It really was refreshing to break myself of the habit of going right to the computer first thing in the morning. Instead, I spent that day reading books, watching TV, playing with the dogs, napping, and generally clearing my mind. The experience opened my eyes to how tied to my work I am! I felt like it helped restore some balance. Thanks for this reminder, Joe.

    • Joe Bunting

      Awesome! Thanks Melanie.

  4. Bruce

    Thanks for the reminder. I used to take Sunday’s off from writing and email. I’ve gotten so busy over the last year that I’m even writing today, always with my email open. I think I need to add one more item to my paltry list of New Years Resolutions – Observe The Sabbath.

    Thank you for the reminder. I’ll see you tomorrow.

    • Joe Bunting

      Yep. Isn’t it amazing how easily busyness encroaches.

  5. C. Hope Clark

    I disagree somewhat with choosing a day. I worked the nine-to-five for 25 years and left to write full-time, with one of my goals being that I worked at my leisure, although full-time. If at home, I’ll touch the computer each and every day, for no other reason than to remain in touch with editors and readers. It might be for thirty minutes if the day is filled with family or friends, but it’s a certain peace of mind to have met the needs of my customers. Then there are days I’ll work 10-12 hours in order to buy time off for a trip, or a day out, or shopping and the movies. Sure, I have responsibilities on certain days, like Mondays and Fridays especially with my business , but for the most part, I like to keep things flexible so I can drop things for a lunch out with the neighbor or dinner with a friend or a one-day drive to visit children. Love, love, love my flexibility – maybe it’s because I didn’t have it for so long. To each his own, but I fully understand your point. We have to have “away” time from the computer. I do . . . I just plan it, and it’s not necessarily the same day or time each week.

    Hope Clark

    • Joe Bunting

      That’s fine. I think most people struggle with boundaries in work, especially us freelancers and writers who can work from anywhere. So a day set aside helps create boundaries. That being said, if you have your priorities straight, you might not need it. I often DON’T have my priorities straight, so it helps to have a day to reset them.

  6. Marianne

    Congratulations on you guest post, Joe!

    Popularity increases busyness. I prefer to be unpopular. I don’t want to be that busy. Although, maybe we’ll figure out a way to be popular and less busy.

    Hope you have a relaxing, meaningful day off.

    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks, Marianne 🙂

      Maybe busy people are just generally more popular, or if you want to be popular, you have to be busy. Anyway, I admire your desire to be unpopular.

  7. William Doonan

    One day a week off — I don’t think I can do that. I have babies. And unless they want to get much of their eating and attention crammed into my free day, then I have to space it out. Seven is too few days in a week as it is.

    William Doonan

    • Joe Bunting

      Ha! Yeah, kids are the kind of work you have to do always.

  8. Jean Mishra

    This is a very wise and timely blog post to find in my email. I’m beginning to face this too and I couldn’t agree with you more. You need to step away from the writing, emailing, promoting, comment responding, twittering, facebooking, etc. on a regular basis or you do lose touch and you burn out. As my own blog is beginning to get some real readership I’m finding I need to remind myself to LIVE first. Thank you for writing this!

    • Joe Bunting

      Congrats on your blog. That’s great, Jean. Thanks.

    • Joe Bunting

      Great post, Bob. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Joyce

    I normally take the weekend off…occasionally I’ll put something up on a Sunday evening but that’s rare. My blog is pretty much the random of everyday mid life which needs to be lived in order to be blogged.

    • Joe Bunting

      I like that. Your life needs to be lived in order to be blogged.

  10. Anonymous

    Hi Joe,

    I completely agree with you here. Everyone, no matter what job they have, needs at least one day off to have a chance to catch up with other people and things. My day off is Saturday and occasionally Sunday.

    We also need time off for reflection and to fill up our creative well, so to speak. Time off prevents burn out and exhaustion. No wonder people feel like giving up on projects if they never allow themselves a break.

    • Joe Bunting

      Very true. Thanks!

  11. sandra

    Sooo agreed with u – we can choose to turn off our devices 😉

    • Joe Bunting

      Yep. You are not a slave to your computer. Thanks Sandra.

  12. Doogie Glassford

    I agree with you Joe. I too have an addictive nature and have spent so much time on the computer and social networking stuff that I got sick – literally, physically ill. My wife says I kiss my computer more than her…

    So, I made a choice almost two years ago to quit Facebook and to stay off the computer and eschew all things electronic for an entire day. Sometimes I stretch it to several days when I need to get domestic projects done.

    Life is more than tapping keys mesmerized by the digital magic on a computer monitor.

    Great article, thanks.

    • Joe Bunting

      “Life is more than tapping keys mesmerized by the digital magic on a computer monitor.” Love that. Thanks Doogie.

  13. Ava Jae

    This is a really wonderful point. It’s so easy to get caught up in social media–whether it’s blogging, e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, tumblr…the list goes on–and not spend enough time with our real face-to-face relationships with family and friends. Finding a balance is difficult, but certainly an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

    Thanks for the lovely reminder!

  14. Anonymous

    Good stuff, Thanks Joe!

    • Joe Bunting

      Thank you good sir 🙂


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