Do you need to unplug?
Today I have a few precautionary questions for you to ask yourself:
- How are you doing?
- Are you coping with working from home?
- Are you managing to get the work/life balance right, or are you working more hours than you ever did before?
- Are you still feeling mentally energetic, or is it all a bit of a slog?
Learning the Hard Way...
How do I know? Because I have just learnt this the hard way myself.
Since January 2020, I have either been working flat out, moving to a new house amid lockdown or pursuing new projects.
With lockdown, my work that involved going abroad for sizeable amounts of time came to an abrupt stop. Everything moved online, and the workload and responsibilities became unremitting.
Like many, I tried to build in regular downtime. I enshrined Sundays as my day of rest, kept up various forms of exercise at home, and tried to get a daily dose of fresh air.
But looking back, I can see this wasn’t enough to give my mind and body the break it needed.
Even during rest periods, my mind was churning over things to do and undoing any attempt at maintaining my meditation practice.
Everything became a chore, even things that should have been enjoyable. I felt the demands on my attention were constant and that if I withheld it, I would fail to keep on top of things.
With each day much the same as the one before it, life became a grind. And, week on week, I found I couldn’t achieve as much as I had the previous one.
Setting up to successfully unplug
Eventually, I decided it was time to unplug.
I pulled out my calendar, booked a week off, and refused to change it despite a few seemingly urgent things cropping up.
Advising my team ahead of time and delegating tasks, I asked them not to interrupt me on my week off. I reasoned that nothing I do or take part in is a matter of life or death.
On the final Friday, I put on my vacation reply, shut down my computer, put my mobile in a drawer out of sight and earshot, and switched off my alarm clock.
Nine days of bliss
The week was absolute bliss!
I didn’t plan a thing – waking naturally, sleeping when tired, and eating when hungry. Clocks ignored, I took myself off for a back massage, a haircut and explored the countryside.
I read books rather than watch TV. I indulged my passion for cooking. And, when it was raining (which it does a lot in Wales), I watched a stack of DVDs bought specifically for the week.
And all the while, I ignored the little voice in my head that whispered it wouldn’t hurt to check-in online.
For an entire nine days, I was unplugged, offline, and unaware of what was happening in the world.
And on my return...
On returning to my office and re-connecting with my electronic devices, the difference was remarkable.
All the tasks and responsibilities were still there, but they seemed smaller.
I was able to approach and tackle everything with ease and without the usual stress re-appearing.
And on reviewing my accomplishments at the end of that first week back, I noted significant progress compared to before and everything seemed to just fall into place.
Ideas and inspiration have started to flow again, and joy has again returned to the more enjoyable personal things.
Because unplugging has been of such benefit, I have decided to take a week off every four months at least.
How you can benefit from Unplugging
My advice – look again at the quality of any time off you are taking off.
To re-charge your internal batteries, a couple of days is not going to cut it – you need to aim for at least a week.
Put your break into your calendar and refuse to move or interrupt it, even if staying at home. (Even if you have a family to consider, why not agree to do it together?)
It is essential to switch off anything that is an electronic demand on your time or hide it away. Find and follow your natural rhythm, and do only the things you fancy doing on a whim.
You’ll be surprised by the benefits afterwards, I promise.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below!
As a leadership trainer and professional online speaker, I help individuals and businesses move forward and overcome challenges with confidence, strength, and compassion. To discover how I can assist you, check out my in-person and virtual services.
Alternatively, contact me and let’s connect.