life is busy - very busy - for most of us, and being so busy can make us feel like we need to be 'plugged in' all the time. (I know I'm not the only one who checks my email from bed, right before turning out the light and going to sleep...).
for a variety of reasons, 2015 has been spectacularly busy for my husband and me. to give you an idea, we kicked the year off with a wedding in atlanta, the morning after which we flew back to new york (at the crack of dawn) to set up for a three-day trade show, at which we were juggling phone calls with our realtor and other vendors in kentucky to finalize all inspections and paperwork for the house we were buying that same week. hectic. and that was just the beginning. the rest of the year has been equally as busy and come september, we were starting to feel a little burned out.
we decided to take off for a week and headed down to cumberland island, ga for some quiet time. cumberland island is a remote island (it's actually a national park) where wild horses roam free (really...scroll down for proof...), cell phone service is spoty at best, paved roads don't exist, and there's no internet access (at least not where we stay; I assume the few who live on the island year-round have internet). in short, unplugging is pretty much forced.
though we've been to the island many times, this was the first time we spent a full week down there just the two of us. usually we're with a group of various friends and family members, which is always a blast - but definitely involves more logistics and planning than a two-person trip. with the exception, perhaps, of our honeymoon a few years ago, I think this was the most relaxing, most unplugged vacation we've ever taken - and at the end of it, I found myself wanting more than ever to find ways to incorporate unplugged time into my regular, non-vacation life.
however, I quickly realized that taking 'unplugging' from concept to practice is much easier said than done. as soon as we got back from our trip, we were thrown right back into life and almost forgot that we had even been on vacation at all. being unplugged for a week was such a rewarding and fulfilling experience though, that I've resolved to make a more conscious effort to incorporate unplugged time into my regular routine. it's a struggle, but I'm working on it - and, in case any of you are also thinking about unplugging more often, I've included three of my best (so far) tips / thoughts below.
1. out of sight, out of mind. on any given day, my phone is within reach (if not in my hand) all day long. as unhealthy as that sounds, it's somewhat necessary. like many of you, if I'm not at my computer, I need to have access to my email, social media, and various other business tools. but something I'm starting to learn is that I really don't have to be 'on call' 24 hours a day. generally speaking, it won't make or break my business if I don't always respond to an email or an instagram comment within ten minutes. I've started to leave my phone in my car when I go to the gym, and am trying to leave it in my office (with the volume off) in the evenings - at least for an hour or two. this 'out of sight, out of mind' practice really seems to work. for the first few minutes of phone-separation, I'm acutely aware of the fact that my device is elsewhere - but that anxious feeling wears off pretty quickly, and I'm able to relax much better when I don't have notifications and alerts popping up in my face every two seconds.
2. accentuate the positive. when I think about unplugging, it usually makes me feel a bit anxious. what if someone needs me? what if I get the most important email of my life while I'm technology-free? what if beyonce reposts my instagram picture and my website crashes from all the extra traffic?! THEN WHAT?! if I take a step back, though, I can recognize that, most likely, none of these things is going to happen in the hour or two I take away from technology. I'm able to shift my focus away from the possible (but unlikely) downsides of unplugging and towards the very real benefits. like, unplugging gives you a chance to think. some of my best brainstorming is done in the shower - probably because there's no technology there to distract me. unplugging also gives you time to rest properly, and to (re)connect with the people and places that are most important to you. when you aren't dividing your attention between your email and what- or whoever else is in your presence, you can get so much more out of life.
3. be mindful. the best way to reap the benefits of unplugging is to be very deliberate about actually making the time to unplug. if you're not mindful about taking the time you need, you'll never unplug. it's a pretty simple concept. try scheduling some 'unplugged time' in your day planner. treat it like any other daily or weekly appointment or task, and plan for it accordingly. over time, I imagine (I'm not there yet...), it'll become more and more natural to unplug at certain times of the day or night - but until it's natural, scheduling the time can help ensure that you're giving yourself to unplug and unwind.
so, those are my thoughts on unplugging! I'm sure I'll have more later, once I've been practicing what I'm preaching for a while longer, but for now, this is what's on my mind. hope it can be helpful to some of you!
how do you make sure you have regular time to unplug? leave a comment below to share!