Oh hi, it’s me! Sorry it’s been so long but I recently stepped off the grid and haven’t stepped back on in a while. I wish I could say I had a really great reason, like traveling, or a big job, but really I just felt burnt out this summer and wanted to take some time to enjoy myself…
I have been thinking a lot lately about work/life balance and making time for family and friends. The past few weeks I took a hiatus from writing over here and replaced it with spending time catching up on life. It was exactly what I needed to spark some inspiration in my work.
When things feel stale, I start to go into autopilot mode and I find I am just cruising through life instead of living it, and that sucks! If you are feeling the same as I did, then what I am about to say it going to help you a lot. Step away from the computer, phone, ipad, and desk-and take some time for yourself. Catch up with friends, be invested in your family, and tune into what they are doing/saying/feeling and tune out of technology. Here is how you can do it…
- Turn your phone on vibrate: This is a great first and small step to unplugging. I keep my phone on vibrate 24/7. It’s totally rude to be on your phone during a date or catch up-so this is the most simple way to tune out. Let family know where you are and who to call if there is an emergency and put that phone in your purse and connect with the people who mean the most to you.
- Respond to texts at night or first thing in the morning: this took me all summer to get a hang of and I am SO glad I did it. You guys, I don’t say this to brag but I get a ton of texts during the day. It’s because I am at home and people know I most likely have my phone near by, but it’s overwhelming. I am holding one baby, feeding another, and dropping my phone all over the place trying to text people back. I started responding only at night (or when the kids nap) when I can sit down, and give a proper response. At first friends and family where offended that I didn’t respond to them hours later, but now they get it, and I remember give reminders of when the best time to get a hold of me is.
- Put up an auto response: I always thought it was annoying to have an email response up but I have made peace with it. I love getting a witty auto response from other professionals but for me I keep it simple. For example last week I said…Subject: “Thank you for your email” Message: Hello! Thanks so much for reaching out. I am out of the office this week and will be back on Monday August 15th but will be responding to emails by Friday August 19th. If you need immediate assistance please email email@example.com with the subject line marked “important”. Thank you so much, Desiree Spinner. Nothing crumbled while I wasn’t responding to emails and I didn’t need to take “vacation time” to step away from the computer but I was still professional enough to let people know they wouldn’t be getting an email from me.
- Schedule your work: O.k. now that everyone knows you are away from your desk and phones, you can schedule out some work. If you are like me and need to keep up with social media and newsletters then schedule them out or decide to not do it at all. I scheduled out all my social media for the summer with the help of a team. My Instagram is more personal though, so I gave it up for 5 days at a time. YES, I took 5 days at a time off from Instagram every other week all summer. You guys-nothing bad happened. I lost a few followers but I also gained some too. I don’t regret it one bit!
- Don’t make too many plans: This summer on days I decided to go to the beach I would say to my friends and family…”hey guys heading to the beach for the day-maybe we will see you, if not catch up tomorrow”. Remember a time before cell phones? I do! You told someone what you had going on that day, and sometimes they showed up and if they didn’t, then you just caught up over coffee the next time you saw each other. What I am trying to say is that without specific plans there is time to get off your phone and enjoy your day. If your friends come to the beach it is super fun surprise for the kids, if not, no one was let down or feeling resentful. I wasn’t checking my phone 100 times to see if they were coming, and no one needed to text or call me to explain if they couldn’t make it. It kept me off my phone and was a great way to tune out and tune into real life.
- Get the TV and computer out of the bedroom: When I was newly married and in my early 20’s we had a TV in the bedroom. My yoga instructor told me to take it out and (insert hubby tantrum here)-I totally did. We haven’t had a TV or computer in the bedroom for over 10 years and I will never go back. I sleep better, read more and actually talk to my husband rather than ignore him when Real Housewives is on. Yes, I have to catch most to all of my shows on demand because we only have one TV in the house but it cut our family’s TV time in more than half. I only watch what really interests me. It also exercises our compromise muscle-we have to agree on a show as a couple, but also as a family and the children-as siblings. It also allows me to unplug much easier.
- Get out: Sometimes I would literally go sit outside away from the house with the kids, take them on a bike ride, or go to the beach. If all my kids are with me then there is no reason to be plugged in. I really feel like I can tune out if we are all together and outside.
- Use a film camera: You might think I am weird but I got a film camera a few summers ago and I was completely disconnected from technology that summer. I lived in the moment because I wasn’t trying to get the prefect shot or posting on social media. In order to see the pictures you have to get them developed which is strangely liberating and you can’t post them immediately which is also freeing. That summer I have three amazing albums filled with pictures because I had to get them developed in order to see what I had shot, unlike my digital prints that have been collecting virtual dusk inside my computer for years.
- Take a weekend and go somewhere remote: Part of my burn out from technology was that I am home all the time with the kids and so I have access to my computer and phone. I had run out of inspiration and needed to spark it again and the only way I knew I could do it was to get away. We went to Martha’s Vineyard for 5 days (but it could be anywhere-camping etc.) and there is NO CELL SERVICE there, seriously it’s crazy and amazing. I started writing things down in my notebook and reading more in 5 days than I did all summer. Plus my friends missed me and I had tons to talk about when I got back. I was away from home and out of my comfort zone which got me inspired again. I wrote a ton- including the idea for this post!
- Make your own list: How are some more ways you can go off the grid for a few days here and there? If your great at shutting off technology but need more motivation on tuning out, how can you do that? Write down on paper some ways you can disconnect.
So those are my tips to get off the grid and back into your life. I hope they help-but I really want to know what you think, and how you can make these tips your own. Leave a comment below or email me and let me know!
These pretty photos where taken by First Mate Photography.