Punctuality Rules!

Four Reasons to Turn Off Your Computer

Four Reasons to Turn Off Your Computer

Joanna’s theme this month is breathing space, and in this crazy world, what could be more important?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who is glued to her computer screen for hours (and hours) every day. Nor am I complaining about that. If I didn’t love writing, twittering, blogging, socializing, and emailing, you can be sure that I would find a way NOT to spend so many of my leisure hours with my laptop. Since my first introduction to the internet back in college (circa 1988), I’ve been a big fan. I’ve made a huge number of real-life friends thanks to my blogs, and even with my real-world friends, much of our interaction these days is done electronically. I love my computer, and absolutely cannot understand how some of my friends and acquaintences don’t even own computers, much less use them.

KayLake2But. Still.

There are times you need to step away from the computer screen.

No, really!

Fresh Air

Did you know, for example, that there’s this thing called the sun? And fresh air? You’d be surprised how refreshing it can be to spend time outdoors. Taking the dog for a walk and watching him check his “pee-mail” messages at the corner never fails to put a smile on my face. There are all sorts of things you can do outside–sports, for example, if you’re into that kind of thing–that get your body moving and stretching in ways that don’t involve a keyboard. Get the blood pumping, feel the sun on your face, and generate some Vitamin D. (Be warned, though. In my experience, fresh, outdoor air is always more tiring than indoor air, even if I’m just sitting quietly in a chair.)


As wonderful, fantastic, satisfying, and cutting edge as social media is … and believe me when I tell you that I would be lost without email, twitter, blog comments, and Ravelry (a knitter’s site) … it can be just as much fun to see friends in person. No, really! It’s true! I spent all of Saturday afternoon at a friend’s house with a group of eight friends, sitting outside on a beautiful Spring day with our knitting and our spinning wheels, and it was delightful. (And, yes, that really is my idea of a good a time.) Five hours without email, without looking at a single pixel or electronic anything, but instead, laughing and chatting, eating good food, and making beautiful things with wool.

Things You Just Can’t Do on a Computer

There are, of course, things that you can’t do on a computer. Household chores like dusting or laundry. Running to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. Baking a cake. Changing the oil in your car. Going to a ball game. Some of these are more fun than others. Some can be combined with small amounts of internet use (thanks to Blackberries and iPhones). But they are best experienced when you are focused on them, instead of trying to type a tweet or compose a blog post at the same time. (Although, of course, letting your mind wander free while doing otherwise brainless things is actually one of the benefits.)

Clear Your Head

Maybe you think that you can only be productive when you’re tapping away at the computer keys, but that’s not necessarily true. Are you one of the millions of people who’s ever had a great idea in the shower? Or waken up in the middle of the night by a stroke of genius so brilliant it couldn’t wait until morning? Or had a brain-wave while driving the car, tapping your fingers in time to your favorite tune on the stereo?

Yeah. I thought so. Sometimes, the best way to be brilliant is to walk away from trying to be brilliant.

So, what are you doing, still sitting there?

Sometimes you just have to walk away, so that you’ll be ready to come back.

13 thoughts on “Four Reasons to Turn Off Your Computer

  1. Kathryn

    Thank you for writing this! I’ve written about this myself over the winter. I really do think people need a reminder. Sometimes you need to give yourself some space to let ideas come to you. It’s funny the amount of times I walk away from my computer and feel a sense of relief – freedom even.

  2. Bradley Robb

    I’m trapped at work, that’s what I’m still doing here!

    I think the entire point can be paraphrased by something a teacher once told me: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Stepping away from the computer (even if it hurts) gives a little bit of breathing room.

    Bradley Robb’s last blog post..Four Questions to Ask Before You Self Publish

  3. Melissa Donovan

    Turn off my computer? Are you crazy? Ha ha ha! I’ve been working on a more balanced schedule lately – spending more time with family and friends, exercising (away from the computer, obviously), and it’s going pretty well. Now that the weather out here is warming up, I even try to get outside a few times a week and enjoy that fresh air you mentioned. Mmm, it’s nice.

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..One of the Best Websites for Writers

  4. --Deb Post author

    It certainly doesn’t hurt to have great weather outside–it makes it much more tempting! (Except for that whole Spring-time allergy thing.)

  5. Joanna Young

    –Deb, what a lovely response to the theme, and reminder to me to get outside! I love my computer too… rather, I love the conversations and friendships that I get to access through that keyboard… and there are times when it’s hard to switch off. But I always feel so much better when I do take time out, and I always get a whole lot more ideas and inspiration when I do too.

    Joanna Young’s last blog post..Blogging, Writing and Community: A Round Up

  6. Pingback: The Places You Go To Breathe | Confident Writing

  7. Bo

    So much of what you expressed is exactly how I feel about LWC (Life With Computer!) I especially think it important to experience the outside with having attachments–cell phones, iPods, all those noise makers. It’s easy to miss the connections to nature if you are distracted.
    .-= Bo´s last blog ..View from Gills Rock =-.

  8. Pingback: Highlights from 2009