There are a lot of ways to get to #TechLifeBalance. Whether you've been or are now a #TechShabbat regular (woohoo!), or you're ready to try it this weekend (tips here), or you're on the journey and are finding your own secret sauce (like Week 1 Challenge: keeping the phone off for 30 mins in morning, 30 mins before bed, and meals), one thing is true across all of these: finding a healthy #TechLifeBalance means being ok without your phone.

But first, if you've tried a #TechShabbat or any of the challenges, we'd love for you take this 5 minute survey as part of our new research study with University of Pennsylvania about the impact of turning off screens regularly.

Take 5 min Survey

And, if you're like some of us, it's not all just easy and perfect to suddenly turn it off. What if someone wants to make plans? What about GPS? How about pictures? Our phones have become such a part of our lives that it takes a little bit of planning (not much, but a little), and even a little bit of internal wrestling, to experience the beauty and benefits (short- and long-term) of regularly unplugging. It's when things are slightly uncomfortable that growth, and many of the best parts of life, happen.

This week's challenge is all about identifying your barriers, and your benefits. While there are universal benefits to unplugging regularly (rest, recharge, perspective), each person will have their own unique set of benefits, depending on how you spend your #TechShabbat or unplugged time, and their own barriers.

So let's unpack potential barriers.

I talk to far-away family on Saturdays.
Keep that practice. There are quite a few options. If you don't have a landline, they cost about $20/mo and are great for emergencies in general, and are great for when you power down the smartphone. You could also get an old school flip phone (yes, all the carriers still sell them) that texts and calls. If you don't want to add a new product or line, how about this: make a plan with mom or grandpa or best friend to Facetime at whatever time you're turning your phone back on. Part of the beauty of unplugging is plugging back in.

I love taking pictures.
We think about this one a lot. We're filmmakers. Turns out not taking pictures or video of every single moment for one day a week is fantastic. Be in the moment. Don't document everything. Or....pull out a non-smartphone-camera like a Polaroid and go wild. Bonus points for printing the pictures and making a #TechShabbat photo album.

I don't feel safe without a phone.
This is an important one. If your phone is your safety when you're out walking in the streets, consider the non-smartphone-option, or keep your phone on for those times only. You are probably not walking in the streets for a full day. Plus, the concept of taking a #TechShabbat is, in large part, about rest, renewal, and connection. If you're expected to be out in the world in places that are potentially unsafe for the whole day, it's probably not the best day to unplug. Bottom line: safety first. Everyone has different needs.

What about GPS?
Having the opportunity to get somewhere without GPS is a true gift these days, and remember, we did this every time we went anywhere until very recently. You can do it. Look at a map before you unplug, and print it out or write it down. Yes, this takes 5 minutes of planning the day before. If that just didn't happen before you unplugged, turn on the phone quickly, write it down, and turn it off. Enjoy the beauty of getting somewhere without a voice telling you every turn!

I'm afraid I'll miss out on a plan if I'm not getting calls and texts.
Yes. Making social plans is a good thing. So is living through a little FOMO. That's the wrestle, and it's healthy. Plus, the number of opportunities that will come your way because you're living in the moment will likely outweigh the possible social engagement you're worried about missing. And, there's always the flip phone or landline options. People will love thinking they have to call your landline.

I don't think I need a #TechShabbat.
Ah yes. You're not as hooked as other people. You don't need a weekly unplug practice. So one question: Have you tried it?

Check out our complete Tips for Taking a #TechShabbat



Created by Tiffany Shlain and Sawyer Steele
A film by Let it Ripple Film Studio
Music by Snow Patrol, “Set The Fire To The Third Bar (featuring Martha Wainwright)”
Courtesy of Interscope Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Dear Parent (2 mins) is the first film of our new series of short films (including Dear Student, Dear CEO, Dear Legislator, Dear Human, and more) about the relationship between character, technology, and humanity.



Created by Tiffany Shlain and Sawyer Steele
A film by Let it Ripple Film Studio

Dear Student (2 mins) is the second film of our new series of short films (including Dear Parent, Dear CEO, Dear Legislator, Dear Human, and more) about the relationship between character, technology, and humanity.

Check out our discussion questions for all different ages: Ages 4-8 | 9-14 | 15-18 | 19-99+

More Inspiration

Nearpod's Digital Citizenship Week


Our partners at Nearpod (in partnership with Common Sense) have fantastic free lesson plans as well as K-12 curriculum for Digital Citizenship

Common Sense Digital Citizenship Week

Common Sense Media

Our partners at Common Sense Media (in partnership with Nearpod) have wonderful content for elementary, middle, and high school.

Fun Unplugged: Getting Creative with Friends

Amy Poehler's Smart Girls

Are you finding that hanging with your friends these days consists of staring at your phone? There are so many other things to do for fun, you’ve just got to get creative with your friends!

Tech Addiction(?); Not All Screens Are Created Equal

Family Online Safety Institute

For many years the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time for under 2’s. The advice was clear and easy to follow, in theory if not always in practice. However, as technology changed, the guidance took time to update, and in the meantime, parenting became more complicated. What do you do when grandparents want to FaceTime? Or when the toys that a baby has don’t have screens but do connect to the Internet? How do we parent in this new digital environment?

All Tech is Human NYC and SF; Raising Kids in the Smartphone Age

Digital Wellness Collective

A hub for thoughtful tech; Digital Wellness Collective unites a broad range of technologists, academics, policymakers, advocates, and other interested parties to tackle the thorny tech/society issues.

Tiffany's segment from The TODAY Show

Many of you tuned into the TODAY Show last week to hear Tiffany talk with co-hosts Hoda Kotb and Maria Shriver about 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week. If you missed it, you can watch the segment here

Tiffany will be on tour with 24/6 having live discussions on these topics across the US and Canada. All locations at

Oct 12: Copperfields Books, Napa, CA
Oct 13: Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
Oct 15: Litquake at Mechanics Institute, San Francisco, CA
Oct 17: The What Conference, San Francisco
Oct 22: Indigo Books, Toronto, Canada

It's Okay to Put Down Your Phone

By Steven Hopper

Would people rather be on their phones than engage with other people? "I'm sitting in a coffee shop right now that overlooks a busy four-way stop at an intersection. I keep seeing people drive by, and as they roll to a stop, they look down at their phones, only to let off the brake and continue on their merry way, sometimes with their phone still in hand. All I can think is, “Why, for crying out loud, is it so necessary to check your phone for two seconds?! I see this problem every day with my students in the classroom.”

Watch our 5 minute film from 5 years ago from our Emmy-nominated series The Future Starts Here.