Fresh off of a proper vacation, I wanted to touch base this week about the power of unplugging. And when I say a “proper” vacation, I’m referring to one in which my laptop was not a part of the packing list. Off-the-grid and canoeing down the Green River without another soul in sight for five days, it was a welcome opportunity to disconnect and spend time with nothing other than nature and my thoughts.
When my fiancé and I were initially tossing around ideas for a summer vacation, my mind immediately went to hopping on a plane and exploring one of the many cities that have been on our travel list for some time. And while there is no right or wrong way to travel, after much deliberation, I found that the complete opposite was actually what I needed the most. It wasn’t the location — it was the escape from being connected.
We started the trip by placing our cell phones in a waterproof box at the bottom of a backpack, and didn’t think about them again until charting our journey home a week later. While this may not feel like such a rarity to some, since jumping into self-employment six years ago, I hadn’t spent this much time away from the dings and buzzes of other’s inquiries and requests… and I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone. In short, the experience was transformative. For the first time in a long time, I felt fully present, relaxed, stress-free, and happy.
It’s not to say that these feelings don’t exist at home, but without the extended time away, it’s often difficult to dive deep and settle into them. While the trip provided a number of ideas and relevations that I’m not sure I would have experienced had I been in the studio, the biggest question I was left with was how to carry this feeling off of a quiet river in Southern Utah, and back home into my day-to-day? I’m not sure the answer is quite so cut and dry, but I’ve come up with a few ideas that I hope will be useful to you as fellow creative entrepreneurs.
Begin each day at your desk by asking yourself how you can inject joy into your to-do list. Does it mean packing up your belongings and working from a different setting for the day? Or simply breaking mid-day to unwind at a yoga class? One of the greatest joys of self-employment is your ability to call the shots, so try shaping each day to your liking, as opposed to some idea of what you think self-employment should look like.
On the days that you don’t have client calls or meetings scheduled, try silencing your phone and leaving it in another room. This simple act can help you avoid the desire to procrastinate by hopping on social media, and allow yourself to fully focus on the task at hand. Better yet, your mind won’t feel the negative effects that often come with mindless scrolling (e.g. the comparison trap), and you’ll likely breeze through your to-do list with significantly more ease.
Can’t seem to escape your inbox? Consider setting up an auto-responder to field inquiries from potential clients or customers. Do you have an FAQ on your website that answers your most common questions? Direct inquiries there, and let them know a timeframe in which you’ll be responding so you can reserve your attention for the e-mails that matter most. Unroll.me is another wonderful tool for unsubscribing to mailing lists that you didn’t sign up for in the first place.
In years past, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to take time off in the middle of a big project launch like Marbury, but in hindsight, I can say that it’s often in the midst of our busiest seasons that we can benefit from time off the most. Curious about how to implement healthy changes in your work-life routine? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts — I’d love to chat more about it.