I just arrived back from my family’s annual camping trip to the Sierra Nevadas and my niece’s daughter Savannah and I were talking about how nice it was not being connected to the grid. That’s right—no email, no internet and no cell service for miles and miles. I was surprised at first that she felt the same way, considering she’s a sophomore in high school. Isn’t that generation all about being and staying connected 24/7? But Savannah felt that sometimes it’s overwhelming to always have to be connected and respond to everyone immediately. Wow, this from a teenager who hasn’t even entered the work life yet!
This got me thinking about my own obsession with staying connected. Between email notifications, text messages, alerts from numerous organizations, voicemails, etc. I’m expected to respond instantly and bombarded with an ongoing flow of information. Worse yet, I think our expectations have become such that everyone should respond immediately to anything we send or receive. I must admit that one thing I do value about our annual camping trip (besides it being a family tradition) is that the area where we camp has no internet or cell service and I can actually disengage from the fast paced world in which I live.
The first couple days are probably the hardest because of my daily habits: checking emails from dawn to dusk, texting friends and colleagues, getting updated on Facebook status changes, reading blogs and news alerts, checking out the stock market and news from my various iPhone and iPad apps—the list goes on and on. No wonder I felt a total decompression happening by day three of my trip. Living a disconnected life actually had a positive impact on my mood and energy. My mind was able to start getting creative again and thinking more about my goals, my business, my life, etc.
Did disengaging from all the technology and information that’s supposed to help me be a more effective leader actually give me the quiet time I needed to truly be a better leader? Did being away and ‘out of the loop’ give my mind the rest it needed to truly evaluate my situation and provide me a clearer perspective on my direction? I would have to answer a resounding YES to both those questions.
I then began to consider if I should try a tech-free day or half day every week to truly focus on thinking, evaluating, and processing. If you’ve read my articles before, you know I’m always preaching about making sure you have “working on” the business time each week, but that’s different. I see it as a time that you are not being inundated with information that you have to respond to in order to truly free your mind from all the clutter. To provide yourself time to be creative, to think or to just be. Allow yourself the time to slow down and smell the roses—maybe this is what meditation is supposed to be all about.
Take time to disengage from technology and the fast paced information world in which we all live. Your business will not fall apart. Your team will be fine, your customers will not notice, and you will be giving yourself the time to truly get your creative juices flowing and clear your mind of all the constant information being hurled at it.
So, here I am ready for my first week back after a seven day ‘tech-free’ vacation, and I am raring to go. I also would encourage you to think about a ‘tech-free’ family day—Savannah got me thinking that this probably isn’t just a work issue, but an issue that transcends other areas of our lives.
This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career. To read the previous articles in this series, visit his blog at www.Collaboration-llc.com.
Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. Learn more at www.Collaboration-llc.com.