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What I Learned From a Year of Taking Wednesdays Off

As you might remember, in 2018, my word for the year was SLOW and one way I committed to walk this word out was by taking Wednesdays off and declaring them a Slow Day.

(You can see a peek into some of my Slow Days from 2018 here.)

By the way, when I say that I was taking Wednesdays off, that meant that I was committing to be totally offline. Not only was my goal to not work or get on the computer, but I also tried to be completely off of email and social media on my phone.

In fact, I deleted e-mail and social media apps off my phone every Tuesday night before bed so that I wouldn’t be tempted to get on social media at all the next day. I found taking the apps off to be so helpful to keep me from being tempted to jump on social media or answer a quick e-mail.

I’m excited to report that I did, indeed, follow through with this commitment!

No, I didn’t do it perfectly. I admit there were weeks when I had to work at least a few hours or when I didn’t end up being completely offline the entire day.

But for the most part, I was mostly offline all day every Wednesday in 2018. And it was such a worthwhile exercise that taught me so much.

In fact, I learned some surprising lessons that I didn’t expect:

1. It’s good to be completely offline.

Being completely off social media and e-mail for a window of time is a really healthy thing. It clears my brain. It helps me to focus fully on other people and projects. It encourages me to slow down and savor life.

While I love social media (see point #2), I also realize that it can be a time-sucker and can distract me from staying focused. It can keep me from having breathing room in my life if I’m filling up quiet that my soul needs with picking up my phone and mindlessly checking social media.

I found that the stillness of being offline on Wednesdays gave me space to think, to have a sort of reset, and to be more available to invest in other non-techie/non-work-related pursuits.

In addition, I found that it was empowering to know that I can live without my phone just fine… as in, I’m not addicted to it and can enjoy time away from it.

Note: I’m currently reading Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World and it’s causing me to really think about the importance of having quiet spaces in my life where I’m free of the distraction that social media and much technology can sometimes be. I’ve been mulling on this and the best way to intentionally have spaces in my life to invest in Deep Work, as the book encourages.

2. I really love connecting with you all.

On the flip side, I truly missed getting to connect with you all online on Wednesdays in 2018. I didn’t realize how much I enjoy sharing through writing and live video and how deeply life-giving and cathartic it is for me until I was offline on Wednesdays. I mean, I knew I loved it, but I didn’t really grasp how much I enjoy it until I was offline from it.

It honestly made me so happy to realize this. That might seem weird to you, but sometimes, we don’t realize how much we love certain parts of our life until they are taken away.

One of the things I do on Facebook Live and Instagram Stories is share hot deals and freebies — many that are really time sensitive. I love getting to pass these onto you all and I know that oftentimes, people won’t take notice of a deal or freebie unless I do a video on it. So there were many hot deals on Wednesdays that were 24 hours only that I didn’t get to share and I wished I could have to help save you money.

3. Taking an entire day off from the business was stressful for me.

One thing I hadn’t really thought of when I initially committed to being offline on Wednesdays was how hard it would be to prep for and recover from an offline day.

Maybe if I were in a different line of work, it wouldn’t be like this, but due to the nature of what we do here (especially when it comes to sharing hot deals and freebies), there are many time sensitive things I am involved in on a daily basis: companies that want to run promotions with us ASAP, hot deals I want to do videos or posts about, e-mails I want to send out to my list about time-sensitive deals and freebies, social media posts to put up about these time sensitive deals, etc.

To prep to be offline for an entire day in the middle of the week, there was a lot I’d have to do the day before to make sure I was set up and able to take an entire day off. I’d have to make sure my inbox was all cleaned out, everything time sensitive was taken care of, and that my team had everything they needed in order for me to be offline.

And then when I got back online on Thursdays, there would always be so much to do and I’d end up having to work an extra long day on Thursdays to make up for being off on Wednesdays.

Working more hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and feeling stressed about needing to get everything done just to be offline on Wednesday every week felt like it sort of defeated much of the purpose of being offline.

4. Taking an entire day offline caused stress and extra work for my team.

My small team is the BEST and they never, ever complained about my decision to take Wednesdays off. However, I know that it ended up causing extra stress and work for them.

Many times, things came up on Wednesdays where my team would have to figure out things on their own, or they’d have to handle a sticky situation, or they’d have to put in extra work hours since I was offline. They also weren’t able to move the ball forward on many other projects because they would have to wait until I was back online and could get back to them about something they needed my input and help with.

Plus, our business took a financial hit because we had to say no to a number of promotions and opportunities because I wasn’t available on Wednesdays. And, like I said earlier, I wasn’t able to tell you about time sensitive deals on Wednesdays via social media so I felt like I wasn’t serving my audience well because of this.

Why I Didn’t Quit Mid-Year

Now, you may have read all of that and wondered why on earth I didn’t just quit my commitment mid-year and decide to ditch the idea. Honestly, I did consider it. However, I’ve been working hard on following through with what I’ve committed to do and I felt like it would also be good to stick with it for long enough that I made sure I wasn’t just quitting when the going got a little tough.

In addition, I felt like it was a valuable exercise and I learned so much from it. Plus, I did enjoy many pockets of rest being offline on Wednesdays and I’m so glad I stuck with this commitment even though it didn’t pan out like I envisioned it would!

I loved that I proved that I’m not tethered to my phone, I loved the stillness and quiet I experienced from being offline, and I loved recognizing just how life-giving it is for me to connect with you all.

My Biggest Takeaways & What I’m Changing in 2019

Starting in 2019, I’ve decided not to take Wednesdays off anymore. Instead, I’m going to commit to having mini-Sabbaths on an almost-daily basis.

Here is how I’m planning to practically walk this out:

  1. I’m committing to having 4 hours of offline time 5 days per week.
  2. I’m keeping my phone in the basement at night.

Notice that I didn’t commit to having 4 hours of offline time every single day. As a self-employed online entrepreneur, I know that that is just not realistic. BUT, I do believe that I can commit to being completely offline for 4 hours per day 5 days of the week.

I also bought a real alarm clock (I got this one) and am using that instead of my phone at night. This way, there’s not the temptation to check my phone last thing before I go to bed and first thing when I get up. I’ve been experimenting with this and it’s been making a big difference for me!

(By the way, I made a checklist chart with these habits I want to develop + a few others in order to serve as a reminder and to give me a place to track my progress on these. I think this is really going to be a great accountability for me! I also made one for business habits I’m wanting to focus on/develop during my work hours.)

So there you have it! If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!

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  • Keri says:

    Hi! I have been thinking about doing the same thing with my phone because I have a bad habit of checking right before I go to sleep and first thing when I get up. However, I am concerned about extended family being able to reach me in the middle of the night if there is an emergency since we don’t have a land line. Any suggestions for this?

    • Lisa says:

      You could turn the data plan and wifi off. Family could still call if they need you. The phone could be in the hall outside your room or in the room next to your room with the ringer up if needed.

    • Lori says:

      I actually have a flip phone activated on a pay by the minute plan for emergencies. Closest family members have the number just for emergencies, and I keep it on beside the bed, (I shut off my smartphone by 7:00 pm.) The flip phone is basic so I can’t keep checking email, etc.

    • I always have my phone ringer off, so if someone calls in the night, I wouldn’t hear it anyway (I’m sure that will change when my kids are older and are out late at night or something!) Jesse still has his phone, though, and he always has his ringer on, so people could definitely still get in touch if they needed. I love the suggestions people have above.

    • Jessica says:

      I use the do not disturb mode on my phone and it is set to not allow calls unless the same person calls twice in a row. I’ve told all my family, if you need me, call twice and t will go through.

    • Lana says:

      My phone is across the room on my bathroom counter so it is accessible but I have to get out of bed to use it so I rarely do.

    • Katie says:

      You could try a focus app that blocks everything else during those hours so you can’t access those apps, but your cell phone will still ring.

    • Maureen McDermott says:

      Not sure if you are in the market for a new set of phones, but I got a set at Costco for around $50 – 4 phones that connects up to 2 cell phones via bluetooth. That way, anywhere I am in the house, I can pick up a call and leave my phone plugged in (usually in the basement doing laundry). The phones just plug in – except for 1, which needs a phone jack if you want to use it for a land line. Panasonic KX-TG833 DECT 6.0 Bluetooth 3-Handset Phone Bundle

  • Aimee M BeLoat says:

    I’ve been eyeing that clock for a long time. How do you like it? Is it worth the expense? Why or why not?

  • Esther says:

    Great post about slowing down!! Helpful reminder for the new year.
    I agree…social media is very time-consuming and taking a break from it weekly is a good idea. It’s more of a habit for me…how did it ever happen?!

    BTW, I love your new pictures in this post!! It’s cool to see your style evolution through the years. When I first started homeschooling my kids, your blog was very helpful for me in reassuring myself that it was a good choice for our family.

    Happy new year!!

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement! My friend, Melissa, took these photos! We did them on the day of my podcast photoshoot and I realized they would be fun to use here!

      • Esther says:

        Your friend did a great photo shoot! Being comfortable around the photographer makes for natural photos. It’s so much fun to play around with pictures…I am awful at being natural in front of the camera. My friends tease and they are determined to get a natural shot of me one day. lol

  • Susan says:

    If you have an iphone you can use the Do Not Disturb function so that only your “favorites” (kids, husband, parents, etc) can get through to you. That way all the other dings, phone calls, emails and texts are silenced. Also you can set the time period for the Do Not Disturb function to be enabled (for example 11pm to 5am) or whatever you choose. It works well for me 🙂

    • I’ve heard that this works well for many people! Thanks for sharing!

    • Mary says:

      FYI – This works on an Android too.
      I have mine set for DND from 10 PM to 6 AM, with only my favorites (close family) being able to get through for emergencies. Phone alarm is set for 5:45 (real alarm clock is set for 5:30 –the phone is my backup).

    • Stacey says:

      I second this my iPhone automatically goes on Do Not Disturb from 10-6 everyday. It has been a lifesaver. I also have a reminder bedtime alarm that lets me know to start getting ready for bed 30 min. Prior to my needed sleep time.

    • The same function is available on Android as well. My husband and I have used it for years, it works great. We have it setup that at say 10pm only phone calls can come through but all other notifications are turned off and not audible. Then at say 7am the next morning, all functions are turned back on. It’s a great feature.

  • Jennifer says:

    I don’t know how you do so much on such little sleep. I see you have only 7 hours scheduled. I’m guessing you only actually get 6 to 6-1/2 hours of actual sleep by the time you fall asleep and maybe use the bathroom once in the middle of the night. I need 8 or 9 hours just to function! I was reading an article by Laird Hamilton yesterday and he said he prioritizes 9-10 hours of sleep per night, so I guess I’m not the only one, lol.

    • This is one reason I almost didn’t share my list — because I knew it could be misinterpreted! 🙂

      So let me try to clarify: I have to get at least 7+ hours of sleep to function well each day. I can get 6 1/2 once or twice a week, but I can’t live well on that. This year, I want to work harder at a consistent, earlier bedtimes so that’s why it’s on my list. And my goal is that I am fast asleep by 10:30 and sleep straight until 5:30 (I rarely ever wake up unless I’m sick or something). To do this, I am aiming to be in bed no later than 10 (at the latest) — and am winding down and getting in bed by 9:30/9:45. If I wake up for some reason in the night, then I give myself an extra 30-45 minutes in the morning to sleep in to make up for it.

      See why I didn’t want to share my list?? Because there’s a big explanation behind each item on the list and you could look at it and think that I’m only getting 6 hours of sleep when really it’s about helping to make sure that I go to bed on time and always get at least 7+ hours of sleep.

      Oh and on the weekends, I almost always sleep in until at least 7:00 or 7:30. 😉 Sleep is a really big priority to me because I feel SO much better and function so much better when I’m well rested!

      I hope that helps to clarify!

  • Debbie Fisher says:

    I love all of this. I am going to try to implement staying off line this next year too. I am curious what your 30 minutes of something life giving is.

    • Well, that will be different every day! It’s just making sure that I’m taking time to do things that feed my soul and give me life — it could be time with a friend, coloring (I love to color!), curling up with a good book and tea, playing a game with one of my kids, etc.

  • Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s impressive to see that you did not want to give up on something when things got tough.

  • Nora says:

    Have you selected a word for 2019?

  • Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing Crystal. Sticking with your commitment is an inspiration as is the whole idea of more offline time, in whatever way we accomplish it. I do think the key is deciding, doing and some type of measuring to see if we are actually doing it. Happy New Year to you!

  • Crystal,

    Thank you for sharing this with us. It really spoke to me because I’m a solo-preneur without paid employees and wanted to take Wednesdays off too. It seemed like it would be a good break in my week. However, it did not work out well at all.

    For 2019, I am praying for which day to take off, or maybe to make my work days shorter over 5 days.

    Thank you again!

  • Michelle Owings-Christian says:

    I love your habit tracker… (that’s what your checklist is called in the Bullet Journal world)!! I have found them very helpful over the past few years. In 2018, mine fell by the wayside but I had my house foreclosed on, sold it, and bought one in Champlain, NY. I was exceedingly stressed and busy. I plan to have another this year, though. I hope it helps you!!

  • Gina Elder says:

    I used to use an alarm clock for the same reason and kind of got away from that. I’m glad you bought that up. Like you, I think I’m going to go back to using it. What a simple but smart observation! One of those…”why didn’t I think of that??” things. lol

  • Noelle says:

    Hi Crystal! I love your personal habits and hope to really work on creating some good habits in 2019. I am curious what you plan to do with the Google Sheet. Will you print it each week and mark it down or do you keep it digital?

  • Tamboliya says:

    Would you please offer a good deal/discount sale price link for your readers for this alarm clock or one similar to it?

  • Wow, what an amazing experiment!

    I loved reading about it because I imagined myself having the exact same reactions. I am sure I would struggle to have a break in the middle of the week from things that I’m passionate about, even if I need a break sometimes.

    I love your takeaways! That’s such a good idea to leave the phone in the basement sometimes and to have specified no-tech times. I would be a much more involved mom if I had my phone on me a little less.

    I’m excited to try out some of those ideas along with you! Thank you!

  • Tamboliya says:

    I love your hairstyle in these photos of how it is longer, feminine, and French-Braided from the side; it looks very nice on you. 🙂

    Did you learn how to do that hairstyle from a Youtube how-to tutorial? If yes, are you able to share the link?

    I think I need to improve in this area. Perhaps that should be one of my New Year’s resolutions to invest more in this area…

    Also, I really love the pink flower blossom computer cover on your laptop; it is so pretty, unique and artistic! 🙂 Would you please share a link for where we could find or purchase this item? Also, are you able to find a discount or giveaway on this product as well? Thanks!

    I hope this feedback encourages you.

    • Hair = Dutch braid it and only pull hair from one side instead of both sides and then fluff it out when you’re done braiding.

      And the computer case was from Amazon:

      • Tamboliya says:

        Thank you! 🙂

        I would like some clarification though: I do not understand how you “fluff it out when …done”. How would you do that w/o the hairs coming out and sticking out all over the place looking messy like you took a nap or something?

        Are you able to do a video tutorial of how you did this hair style? It’s difficult to visualize what you wrote. [“A picture is worth a thousand words”]… 😉

        Thanks! God bless. 🙂

  • Tamboliya says:

    Thank you. I watched the video and discovered that “fluffing a braid” is completely different than what I assumed you meant! LOL I am so glad I asked now.

    I had never heard of her term “pancaking” a braid before. Why do they call it that? It doesn’t look “flatter” like a pancake but “fluffier”/rounder?! Puzzling…LOL 🙂

    I have so much to learn…

  • Laurie m Villotta says:

    Wednesday is my day off work too. I have been a nurse for 25 years and need this day off big time. I require a lot of sleep 10-12hrs a night. I do not always get that though. My day off is just for me. I drop the kids off school and come back and go to bed and wake up when I want to. I alway read your goals and am so impressed on how you are so committed.

  • I was with you till your checklist said two salads a day? How do you not get bored of two a day? I am intrigued!

    • I’ve found that I feel SO much better when I eat lots of salads… so I usually just throw some toppings on lettuce for lunch and then serve dinner on top of a big bed of lettuce!

  • Hannah says:

    I remember you talking about this on Instagram stories. I think it’s a great idea. Great job sticking with it all year!
    You’ll love keeping your phone in the basement. We keep all electronics out of our room. I even removed our TV 5ish years ago. It’s been a fantastic decision.
    I have been shopping for bedroom sets and have been disappointed to find that almost all of the bed frames have built in plug ins and USB ports and a lot of the night stands as well.
    I’ve heard many friends and family talk about having a hard time getting to sleep at night and the first question I always as is if they take their phone or some sort of electronic to bed with them and 100% of the time, the answer is yes.

  • Jenny Bailey says:

    I love your idea for a Personal Daily Tracker and thanks for sharing it with us. Can you also share your Business Daily Tracker too? This is where I struggle the most because I’m a small business owner and have to put aside things I’m working on to provide quotes and respond to emails. Sales are always the first priority.

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