When was the last time you slowed down and got out of your daily grind? When was the last time you unplugged and let your daily distractions fall by the wayside?
Most of us stay plugged in for way too much of the time. The result is drained energy and decreased effectiveness.
Power up by unplugging
Over the last couple months, I’ve been having trouble focusing and getting traction in my business. I’ve felt distracted and unable to get anything of much substance done (at least that's how it has felt). Occasionally I would get a burst of productivity, but for the most part I was slogging through gumbo.
Last week, I took the week off and went to a week-long program held by Mata Amritanandamayi, an Indian spiritual teacher more commonly known as Amma, or the Hugging Saint. I checked my e-mail once, about mid-week. I had my cell phone, but didn’t use it for any work-related calls.
In short, I was nearly completely unplugged for eight days. I hit pause in my work life and focused my attention elsewhere.
When I pulled out my computer again yesterday, I felt a change. Where before I had a big case of brain constipation every time I sat down to write, now the ideas started flowing easily. I felt excited about planning for the possibilities that 2012 has to offer. I felt positive and energized.
I don’t think it was just that I had a change of location for a week (though that certainly helped). A big part of the shift has been the result of staying unplugged the entire time. I was able to let work go. I was able to let that field lie fallow so it would be more fertile when I started working it again.
Experiment: Unplug yourself
Even if you don’t have the opportunity to unplug for a whole week in the near future, there’s a lesson to be learned there. Every time you plug into work when you’re not working – whether that is checking your e-mail, or your work voice mail, or just doing a little work on that budge spreadsheet before you go to bed – you’re taking yourself out of rest and relaxation and into work mode.
Try this: For the next week, commit to unplugging when you’re away from work. Don’t check your work e-mail. Don’t check your work-related voice mail. Resist the temptation to do “just a little bit more” on that project. Let yourself be fully present in the rest of your life, without your attention seeping away to work distractions.
If you have obligations that you absolutely, positively need to take care of during off-work hours, create a confined space for them. Don’t let them sprawl across your non-work time. Create a space in your schedule for them and outside of that space, put them down.
You might be amazed at a) how hard it is to unplug (which is all the more reason for experimenting with it) and b) how good it feels.
Are you up for unplugging? Let me know how it goes!
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The Occupational Adventure Guide:
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by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst