15%

Smartphones have taken over our lives.

Already 10 years ago, when I was living in Japan, I had a simple phone that could connect to the Internet (DoCoMo) and retrieve emails. Then came the Blackberry. Then came the iPhone and and Android. Finally came the tablets.

The result: we are never truly away from work. I have an iPod docked to my alarm clock next to my bed, which means I can see my emails a second before I fall asleep and the minute I get up. Should I wake up during the night, they’re also there. Then I have my iPhone and Android phones, which continuously push those emails (and phone calls), wherever I am. Wi-Fi is coming back to airplanes, which means that even at 30,000 feet, those emails keep coming. It’s the scourge of our connected world.

But thankfully there is a way of reducing this curse by 15%. Every week, from Friday afternoon, about 40 minutes before sunset, until Saturday at nightfall, I am absolutely free from all electronic devices. For a blissful 25 hours, I am totally unreachable. No one call call me, no one can email me. (Well, technically they can, but I will not respond). That’s 15% of the week totally disconnected from the world – no work, no news, no Internet.

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This age-old solution, enabling mankind to take a pause from the daily routine, is a gift from God. As such, it will not work unless one treats it as a divine gift. A human-driven, self-imposed break of 25 hours will never work. In our day and age, the temptation to just take a quick peek at an incoming email or have a quick look at the news, is beyond human capabilities. Only by accepting that this imposition is external to us, beyond our control, can this gift work. Paradoxically, even for those who realise the benefits of this gift, this acceptance is of an almost insurmountable difficulty.

To me, it’s a no-brainer. I was given a gift to take 15% off. I would be mad not to accept it.

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