Sat at one of the London Airports, struggling to shake the feeling I’d forgotten something, I was aware that the pending holiday needed to be both relaxing and restorative.
With work, running a home and managing a social life, our consistent ‘availability’ and addiction to being ‘plugged in’ is difficult to switch off from. Smartphone in my hand, gaping void in the other where my work smartphone is usually sat. It’s a sad picture, but one many of us are familiar with.
I’m sure many of you will empathize with my flailing around in pockets or handbag, where I think I’ve felt ‘something’ vibrate! The pace of life many of us lead, feeling like legs running downhill, whirling too quickly and propelling your reluctant body along with them.
It makes me wonder whether our need to be ‘on’ outweighs others expectations, or indeed feed them. If we simply aren’t available for a few hours, for an evening to ourselves, for the weekend, what will really happen? Do we put our social status at risk, or even our jobs by turning off at regular intervals? I doubt it.
That sounds simplistic, but our own self sacrificing pressures make our already stretched free time precious and rare, like butter barely covering a piece of bread. We like to feel we’ve achieved don’t we? That we’ve ticked various things off a greedy ‘to do’ list, making us feel productive. Productive and tired!
I suppose our difficulty in switching off during down time and holidays can be due to conditioning. We are driven to produce results, to deliver that short lived feeling of relief before starting another task or project.
Quietening a busy mind during free time is not only preferable but vital to our overall well-being.
It usually takes me 3-4 days of feeling I ‘should’ be doing something, and sleep filled with dreams of work and other pressures, to relinquish my anxiety and give in to a revised pace.
I’ll be honest, I haven’t relinquished my phone, email, Twitter, WhatsApp, News apps etc on holiday……but I have made time for for other things. Replacing time I’d usually spend ‘hooked’ on technology of some sort with tangible pleasures.
Mindful nothingness is a phrase that came to mind during this break, where we actively spent time simply focused on enjoying basic experiences. Sitting in cafés people watching, thinking, jotting notes and aspirations in note books, allowing the mind to wander and start its own conversational topics.
Deliberate focus on freeing your mind from routine pressures, so it has time to be creative, aspirational and adventurous is needed by all of us on a far more regular basis.
It has reminded me to have cut-off points each evening from work, to do something I enjoy each day and to indulge in people and tasks which nourish and replenish me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. It enriches our lives, but make sure you have a life worth enriching first, not the other way around!
Three Leave-The-Technology – Alone Life Enriching Tips!
(ok it’s not catchy but it will work!)
1. Instigate a cut-off time.
For every work day, especially important for those who work from home, or are ‘contactable’. Unless it’s urgent, or you’re on call, agree a cut off time and stick to it! Use the time you free up for relaxation, exercise, a meal with family/friends, reading, hobbies, courses etc.
2. Plan Your Technology Usage
If you feel like you’re in a constant cycle of email/text/tweet/call/updates/notifications…..*raises hand*…..plan in specific times of the day devoted to one task rather than flitting between all of them. An hour dedicated to reviewing and actioning your email inbox will feel far more productive then looking at every email as it comes in.
3. What’s Your Life?!
Ensure you have focused, pleasurable, rewarding interests and time spent which doesn’t involve technology. It’s amazing, but not all the great pleasures of the world have come about in the last 20 years. Expand your ‘can’t do without’ to long walks, 20 minutes of Yoga in the morning, an hour of reading where social networking would have been.
The pleasure of doing nothing opens the door to greater energy levels and focus. Now we shouldn’t ignore that, should we?