6 GREAT THINGS THAT HAPPENED WHEN I UNPLUGGED FOR 3 WEEKS
Overall, the best thing about unplugging for three weeks was the sense of freedom and time back. A life unplugged is one without wormholes or competition you didn't plan to engage in and without opinions you didn't seek and it's delightful. As the curious soul that I am though, I really put some effort into observing what I was getting out of being unplugged - I had the time after all! Here are the best things about it...
NB: although I unplugged for almost three weeks, I did still drop in once a day to check emails and so on. I run my own business, unplugging completely for three weeks would have been irresponsible and stupid! I also checked social media notifications every couple of days to make sure I hadn't missed a question or a significant mention.
I didn't miss it
Not one bit! I really thought I would, but I found plenty of things to do instead. I found myself reaching for my phone repeatedly, but more out of habit than will and I soon found ways to get over that. I left my phone at home when we went out or kept it in my handbag.
I felt happier and more content
The online world, and by that I probably mean social media to a large extent, can be completely exhausting. I'm convinced that largely that's because it often feels like one huge competition. Whether it's business results or babies we're all in competition to portray the happiest, most successful, most beautiful version of ourselves. Even when we're complaining, we have to be the funniest or angriest! When I sat and looked around the pool on holiday at all the real, non airbrushed people, I couldn't see a single one that made me feel bad to the extent that a single post on instagram can.
I was also able to reach a certain sort of stability and inner peace that I haven't felt for a long time. I think when you're getting constant, and hugely varied input, it's difficult, and tiring, to maintain a stable mindset.
I didn't miss anything important
The addictive nature of digital is in the psychology of random rewards. It's what keeps compulsive gamblers coming back for more. That same compulsion has us checking our phones 20 times an hour to see if it's provided anything juicy! And when we're in that mental state, even auntie Joan's new puppy can give us a little bit of what we need.
The beauty of checking in every day or couple of days, and on my own terms was that I was able to override the 'random' part of the equation and take control. I could also see, real time, that I wasn't actually missing anything. I didn't look at any feeds on social media, just the notifications. And almost all of them were things I could choose not to engage with.
I've spent a great deal of this morning writing emails to apologise for the delay in replying or for my radio silence. Not a single person has questioned me or taken it as a negative. In a world where we know that people are constantly online, it's easy to have unreasonable expectations of ourselves and others in terms of how quickly we should expect a response. As I said earlier, I didn't let anyone know I was going off grid, I just disappeared!
I learned a lot about boundaries
I've had some time to think about what could have brought on that sense of burnout that I felt three weeks ago and I've realised it has a lot to do with boundaries, or more accurately the blurring of them. When I worked for someone else, I could do all the obvious things like arrange cover and let my contacts know I was going to be away but I also had permission to actively choose the life side of the work life equation for a fixed period of time. That came with it's own burdens... such as 'the fear', but it was nice to feel I could walk away for a while.
When you run a business, especially one that largely exists online, there's nowhere to hide. You can't shut your doors and go home. The only personal/work boundaries are the ones we set ourselves, and when we're encouraged to bring ourselves into the equation as much as possible, there really isn't much latitude. I've decided to keep my social media notifications switched off for now!
I hope I've inspired you to try and give yourself some mental space away from the online world. It really is a great thing to do to regain perspective and feel, well, better really! Normal service will be resumed next week!
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