The last time I heard the challenge to ‘unplug’ from technology, it came from one of my favorite sales trainers, John Costigan. In one of his newsletters, he challenged readers to get off all email and cell phones for 24 hours. Sounds easy, but when you run a couple of businesses based on the Internet, it can be challenging.
Stepping back from your work is something that most everyone agrees is important, yet in actual practice many of us fail miserably when it comes to actually pulling the plug. It is simply too easy to check the iPhone or Blackberry for messages. You justify it by wanting to eliminate the ‘vacation penalty’ of having to clean out a mountain of emails or voice mails when you return.
I decided to take a weekend recently and unplug – totally. No checking voice mail, (I don’t have a phone with email), no laptop, and no TV. I’m fortunate that my extended family has a slice of paradise on the Pungo Creek in eastern North Carolina where there is a land phone line for emergencies, but the grip of the cell phone tower simply does not extend that far. I unplugged just after 3:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon and did not reconnect until returning home on Sunday afternoon, a full 48 hours without connectivity.
I admit that there were a couple of times when I was tempted just to call in quick and check for messages, but I fought the urge. The Hatteras Hammock by the water and the sailboat were perfect distractions. When I returned, I did have some emails and calls. But the good news is that there were some new customers and orders waiting, and nothing happened that I could not handle upon returning to work.
Here are some ideas and tips to help you unplug from your technology connections:
- Start small. Turn your cell phone off at a given time each day – say 7:00 p.m., especially if this is a business phone. Leave it home when going to places where you are not going to make calls, like church (how important is it really, that you answer a phone call during this hour?).
- Increase your time value. Return calls and emails to be sure, but start placing a higher value on your time. Stay away from ‘junk’ email and threads that steal your time.
- A Black Hole for time. Social media is great – but it can take ALL of your time, not just your spare time. Check out Deidre Hughey’s blog if you are interested in managing your social media connections for business in a smart way.
- Face your fear. If you are really scared of losing your business or your job because you fail to return a call or an email when you are supposed to be ‘offline’, then it is definitely time to step back and evaluate this fear. Remember, fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.
- Give yourself permission. It is okay to let down. Just as you cannot exercise your body 24×7, you cannot exercise your mind all the time either. Everyone needs some time away from the constant pull of work and responsibility, to rest and recharge your batteries.
I hope you find these tips helpful. I’ll be working hard to take my own advice and cut the cord more often. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to post comments and suggestions. I’ll try to look and approve them quickly, but I may not get to them right away. I’m sure you’ll understand if I’m off email now and again.