It’s called work detox, a path to living a balanced business life in this connected and digital world.
Clearing the slate, cutting the cord, unwinding, and creating more space to reavulate and access my business life—that’s what I set out to do for the month of July. Oh, and get married. 🙂 I called it “Creating Space for Opportunity.” In between my last-minute wedding planning, it was easy for me to visualize all the digital deleting, cloud organizing, and social media sorting I could do in 30 days. In fact, it seemed like the much-needed mindful makeover I so desperately needed.
July 1 was my official start date. After jumping off the grid to create space, my first “project” was to drop off my daughter and her best friend at a sleepaway camp in California for two weeks. They couldn’t wait to go—it’s all they’ve talked about for the past few months. (And how perfect to have time to myself before I get married and also to regroup and get organized!) After some tearful hugs and goodbyes, I flew back to Florida and set up my own sleepaway camp on Anna Maria Island, the place where my wedding was planned and the perfect destination for me to get some exhale time. I could do things like go to lunch, read Guy Kawasaki’s APE, write the outline for my next book, go to a SUP yoga class, put some creative time into my wedding planning, or connect with old friends and catch up with my family. Whatever.
Suddenly, the perfect plan turned into the perfect storm—sort of.
Here’s what I didn’t realize: not only was I unplugging from work, but my 13-year-old daughter was unplugging from me for the first time. Now she was in her own little connectivity detox up in the San Bernardino mountains. Her two-week camp was high on fun but low on tech—no iPhones, no WiFi devices, no calling home, etc. We could only communicate via regular mail. Two days into it, I thought no news is good news. But then I received the dreaded email from the head counselor letting me know poor Kennedy was having a very difficult time—terribly homesick, in fact—and they were hoping she would make it through the first week.
And so it started. I spent the next five days on the phone multiple times a day with my friend Kathy. Her daughter was with Kennedy and was going through the same thing. Our emojis ❤️ were in full force!
In between it all, I tried to do both mindless and mindful tasks to keep myself going while also figuring out ways to empower my daughter through what I hoped would be a strengthening experience for her.
Whether it’s a mini family crisis, wedding planning, relationship time, “me” time, or client time, being present and focused is a valuable gift. Clearing time and not being so overscheduled and overwhelmed allowed me to make better, clearer, and more mindful decisions. If I had been on my regular work schedule, I probably would’ve just broken down and let her come home because that might have been the easiest short-term solution, but not necessarily the best long-term one. As of right now I’m still holding strong to her sticking it out.
Tip: When negotiating and making decisions, you’ll be at your most mindful and smartest when you are well-rested versus tired and worn out.
Powering up the Empowerment
It’s been very challenging not being exposed to client stuff and my daughter’s current camp drama. I’m, for the most part, cut off—like it or not—from communicating with Kennedy. Normally, we’d be texting and calling all day when she’s away. I’m hoping this two-week fun camp (which actually seems a bit like a boot camp) will help give my daughter a zap of courage and independence that will help her later in life.
With work, I’m still being copied on business emails, even though someone else is handling business. It’s been hard to not jump in and offer my two cents. But giving up the sometimes overkill mentoring and empowering of my team will help them in the long run.
Mindful Business Agendas
Before I started my scheduled 30-day work detox to create space, I signed myself up to attend the Wisdom 2.0 conference coming to New York in September. What attracted me to this “out of my digital box” event? Wisdom 2.0 addresses the great challenge of our age—that is, how to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective to our work, and useful to the world.
I’m trading in some of my addictive social media habits for alternative ones that can help take my sometimes unhealthy social media lifestyle (remember, I’ve been doing this since Google started) and move it into a new arena of business mindfulness and well-being expertise. What will I do with the newfound wisdom? First, take my own dose of it! Second, share it with my communities and weave it into my educational and work musings.
Like with anything, the first step is signing up—making that commitment. Once you do, your mind actually starts working in that direction.
Tip: Sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zones to create space for new opportunities and new directions.
Lost, Found, and Activating
About a week before my planned rehab, I lost something I had been very attached to for the past year. My FitBit fell off while I was swimming next to our boat in Longboat Key. It was almost like a death in the family. My poor FitBit had drown in the depths of manatees and starfish.
I had been tracking my steps like a true wearable addict should. RIP, FitBit. Everyday after that, I’ve had on my list to buy a new one, but I still have yet to replaced it. I decided this was a sign to take my month-long retreat from technology without a wearable. I felt so naked and out of control without my daily analytics.
What was I going to do? I decided to go low-tech and rented a bike for a month, signed up for a Barre class, booked a series of SUP yoga sessions, bought a fitness series on Cody App, snagged myself a meditation ball, and ordered new workout clothes.
For this 30-day period, I’m committed to running or walking Anna Maria Island at sunset every night. It’s my mental and physical reset. What’s yours?
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be back online with my FitBit friends soon enough and in the meantime I’m still checking in on MapMyRun, but I’m enjoying the one less community to check in with for the month.
Everyone expects it. Just look at texting: so many people I know expect an immediate response. Is that really the answer? I’m in the camp of not always responding right away. Obviously not ignoring, but once you get people used to the “always on” immediate response, they expect it. What you’re doing is creating little monsters around you. They’re eating away at your time and, remember, all we have is 24 hours a day. In today’s business life, we have the added “bonus” of notifications from collaboration platforms like basecamp, Asana, Slack, Skype, and Google chat. These are coming in from every direction. Tweets, texts, and chats can create an endless distraction of complete communication minutia and pollution that many times ends up causing havoc.
4 Tips To Avoid All Of That:
- Set your list of who gets response priorities. Your immediate team should take precedence over your ex, for example, depending on work flow and pick the communication mode of preference.
- Think before you respond to issues or sensitive material.
- Give yourself time to absorb the communication or time to finish what you’re doing before interrupting your thought process. Complete the task you’re doing before starting another conversation.
- Resist the temptation to respond immediately especially if it’s not important.
So often, I see people (including myself) give equal importance to every email or text. One thing I have mastered: I do not answer any unscheduled calls during business hours—even personal calls. I have scheduled calls and I have scheduled time to get you-know-what done.
What I’ve realized about the over-scheduled and over-saturated social media lifestyle most of all is that it only works almost never.
Want to add more space in your social media life? Check out a recent blog, How To Add Time And Happiness to Your Social Media Life.
Stay tuned for the next work detox update, but in the meantime, do you have any tips on how to unplug? How do you do it?