How to Take a Break from Technology Without Moving to the Woods

The views were breathtaking.

snow covered mountains in Park City, UT

Park City, Utah

After a client conference last week, I took a day off in nearby Park City, Utah. If you’ve never been, the landscape is breathtaking, and I didn’t even have a chance to hit the slopes. If you’re not a skier, there’s plenty of other sights and sounds to entertain you.

There’s almost a magical quality to Park City, with its old-fashioned Main Street, Mom and Pop shops and mountain backdrops. As I was heading back to the airport the following morning (in a snowstorm), I realized my stress level was much lower than it had been when I arrived. Why? I tried to limit technology as much as possible for a 12-hour span.

Technology transports us to new worlds, allows us to work remotely and offers nearly unlimited learning opportunities. It’s also addictive, available 24/7 and difficult to get away from in our lives today. I’m not suggesting that you move to the woods and shun all forms of technology, but there are ways to take a break from technology and lower your stress level.

How technology gets us hooked

How to Take a Break from Technology and Reduce Your Anxiety Level

  • Switch Screens: Some days you have to be plugged in all day; there’s no way of getting around it. It helps me to switch screens, going from my laptop to mobile, when possible. Something about not standing (or sitting) in front of a computer makes me feel like I’m not as plugged in.
  • Take a Break: Most people work better in spurts, and as counterproductive as it may seem, taking short breaks can make you more productive. You may have a mountain of work to do, but taking a quick walk or heading out of the office for lunch can give you a productivity boost for the rest of the day. I try to move around in between projects to break up the work day.

Things I Carry: Pen and Paper

  • Go Old School: Can you lose technology for any part of your job (even once in awhile)? I love to write outlines and rough drafts on paper. A blank page is much more inviting to me than a flashing cursor, and the process of writing by hand is soothing to me. Pick up a physical business book or attend a conference in-person to hone your skills instead of reading an article or attending a webinar online.
  • Change Your Environment: When I worked in corporate America, I loved to go out to lunch to change the scenery. Oftentimes, I would come up with an idea or solve a problem while sitting at a local cafe or coffee shop. Changing your environment can drive creativity and refresh you, which is why coffee shops are popular alternative working locations.

How the Hum of a Coffee Shop Can Boost Creativity

  • Adjust Your Schedule: What is your typical work schedule? Do you have any flexibility? Try to group projects so that you’re able to enjoy some time off, even a few hours. Maybe you can schedule more on 3-4 days a week so that you can regroup and plan on lighter days or even take a day off. What works best for you? If you’re an early bird, work on your most important projects first before you lose momentum. More of a night owl? Save more thought-provoking work for later in the day. We all work our best differently, so try to make your schedule work for you.
  • Shut It Off: Take a vacation, even one day. It’s amazing how much more relaxed you’ll feel when you leave your phone at home or at least don’t check it every five minutes. As a small business owner, I understand how difficult it is to clock out, so to speak, but I always feel so refreshed when I do. You may not be able to take a week-long vacation to some tropical destination, but enjoying an activity you like — ice skating, shopping, getting a massage — can pull you out of the digital world back into the real world.

As amazing as technology is, it’s important to unplug regularly to recharge and enjoy the world around us. You may be surprised at your reduced stress levels and improved productivity and efficiency. So turn off your computer, put your phone down and head outside. The world awaits!

Your Turn: How Do You Unplug?

How do you take a break from technology?
What’s your favorite getaway destination?
What are your favorite activities that don’t involve technology?

p.s. It’s a coincidence that I wrote and published this post on the National Day of Unplugging. It’s not a coincidence that I wrote it in a coffee shop. 😉

An old school Gen X’er in a digital world,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about unplugging, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Free Your Mind and The Productivity Will Follow

One of my favorite college classes was Business Writing. While it was a morning class (night owl here), we were so productive in that hour and fifteen minute time frame. Why? Free writes.

Do you free write?

Free writing — and espresso — help me get the creative juices flowing.

Each class, we’d arrive and sit down at a computer. The professor (who was another reason that class was so productive) would give us a topic, seemingly at random. We’d have 15 minutes to write on that topic, whether it be our desired superpower or a special memory from our childhood. No matter the topic, the free writes produced the desired results — getting our creative juices flowing.

Let’s be honest. College students aren’t known for being morning people and may party more than most. But the simple act of free writing helped us wake up, start thinking and made the rest of the class more productive.

Do you free write?

Sometimes I’ll look back through my college papers, and I always enjoy re-reading the free writes from this class. I’m going to begin incorporating these back into my routine to help break through writer’s block and get my mind going when it’s just one of those days.

Here’s your free write topic: What superpower would you choose? Why? Drop your thoughts in the comments below!

Cheers,
Jaime

Connect with CCC for free flowing fun (and helpful tips too)!
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What inspires you?

Inspiration. It’s a beautiful thing but can be hard to come by sometimes. Where do you draw inspiration from?

Need inspiration? Look at nature.

Typically, I hit the ground running. Physical activity, especially in serene natural settings, does wonders for my creativity and mind (not to mention my health). Today, it was a candle-lit bubble bath with a great book. Delving into another world opened up my mind to blog topics and content marketing ideas. Other days, a quick meditation may do the trick.

Related reading: Need an Idea? Just Walk Away

So, what inspires you? Whether it’s an intriguing piece of art, an upbeat Zumba class or a person you hold dear, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Chime in and help inspire us all to greater things.

Humming the Rocky theme song,
Jaime

Feeling inspired? Let’s connect!
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Need an Idea? Just Walk Away…

Are you trying to come up with a creative idea that’s eluding you? Whether it’s a great idea for an article, the basis for a new campaign or some way to improve a current situation, it can be frustrating to come up with nothing. But don’t let frustration get the best of you! Following are some tips on inspiring some creativity in your life:

–> As the title of this post implies, walk away! Sometimes the best ideas come to us when we’re doing something completely unrelated to the task at hand. Go see a movie, spend time with family or friends or have fun with a hobby you enjoy.

–> Have a brainstorming session. No, you shouldn’t have left these powerful pow-wows behind in college. Write down every idea; nothing is too silly or worth skipping over. Giant sticky notes to stick to walls are great, but that could just be my affinity for sticky notes. If you don’t have anyone near to bounce ideas off of, take advantage of social media. Hold a chat on Twitter (use a hash tag to follow your conversation) or take advantage of the group capabilities on Google+.

–>Get physical. Go for a walk, run or bike ride, even for a short duration. Stuck at work? Take a walk up and down the stairs or around the parking lot. Physical activity engages our brains and can help the juices flow.

–> Write it down. Yes, I can be old fashioned when it comes to certain things. However, paper still serves a purpose in this digital age. The power of putting pen (or pencil, crayon or marker) to paper can do wonders compared to being overwhelmed by a blinking cursor on a blank screen.

–> Embrace failure. Creative people aren’t necessarily geniuses; they just keep trying. Most great inventions came after thousands upon thousands of failures. To keep this in mind, remember this great quote. “Accept failure. Enjoy it, even. Embrace the suck, for the suck is part of the process.” –A.J. Jacobs

–> Look at the challenge from a different point of view — literally or figuratively. Sit on the floor or look out your window. Ask yourself how others view the situation. Remember, there’s at least two sides to every issue.

I hope one or more of these tips help you the next time you’re in a creative bind. Or do you have a tried-and-true solution that you turn to when the creative wheels are stuck? If so, I’d love to hear it! Please let me know in the comments section. I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas!

Cheers,
Jaime