Unplugged – How to Take Yourself Offline

My retired friends will smile when they read this article about being unplugged. They kid me about the fact that I’m still working in the corporate world. I sometimes kid them back that they seem busier now in retirement than when they were at the office.

I was recently on a consulting trip in the USA working with executives who were given unlimited vacation days each year. I thought that this was a fantastic perk and a way to get unplugged. But without exception all told me they never take off more than a few days each year. Most of them were at the office six days a week for at least 10 hours on most days.

On that same trip I visited a National Park in the USA and stayed in a lodge that had no TV, Internet, phones, or cell phone reception. One of the staff told me that quite frequently guests became very restless at the beginning of their stay. They were in device-withdrawal. However, within a few hours they relaxed into the tranquility and beauty of the location. I often notice this on planes as well. The first thing many do after take off is go to sleep. Everyone seems so exhausted and craves a bit of R&R.

However, many of you are far being retired. You still have work related ambitions and quite frankly cannot afford to retire right now.

So how can you enjoy periodic experiences of being unplugged?

Two strategies. Empty your hands. Then, fill them with restorative alternatives.

Empty Your Hands

A person who needs to get unplugged usually has their hands too full with work related activities and issues. Getting off the grid takes;

  1. An intentional decision. What does it take for one to take time-out from the rat race? Will it take an order from a physician who has just found your health to be deteriorating? A loved one who has just been diagnosed with cancer? Why wait for a crisis to reorder your priorities? Make a decision to get unplugged. This starts by
  1. Having periods when you don’t communicate on any of your devices. Many wait for their lower energy periods when they log onto their devices. They utilize their best moments of the day for deep thinking and key decisions. Being interrupted by phones etc is rated as one of the biggest stressors in a day. It takes a lot of energy to shift one’s concentration from one topic to another.
  1. Have black out periods when you don’t think or talk about work. I am told from time to time “All you do and think about is work.” Such annoying truth-tellers are like a splash of cold water in the face. It reorients us to other important things. So the decision “No shop talk for now” can be productive.

Fill your Hands

  1. Fill your life with part-time activities like fishing, jogging, yoga. The benefit of these activities is that you are recharged, have new energy to think creatively, and have a better-rounded perspective on the whole of your life.
  1. Substitute work related activates with community-based contribution. Many companies see the value of asking their employees to volunteer in the community.
  1. Maybe, just maybe, you are ready for a change of pace. What about the possibility of a sabbatical, or even more radical, a day off? Or even better, like two friends of mine who asked themselves a few years ago while they were stuck in rush hour traffic “Why are we doing this to ourselves?” They took stock of their lives and retired.

Getting unplugged full-time may not be on the cards for you right now. But recalibrating your hurried lives, having time to discover new expressions of yourself, and daring to buck the system and getting off the grid from time to time will certainly restore your vitality and give you a new lease on life.

Try it an see and let me know how it went.

See my blogs from a few months ago “Our Hurried Lives” and “I Work Therefore I Am”

Also, how do you get unplugged?   Your comments are greatly appreciated.

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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