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):
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram-v051916_200 Pinterest logo

Prewriting: A Precursor To Rad Writing

As I was writing my last post about the importance of revising and editing your work, it dawned on me that many people who are required to write today (blogs, social media, company newsletters, etc.) may not have much experience with the writing process. So I decided to blog about it to explain each step’s importance and throw in some insight along the way.

pre·writ·ing (noun): the creation and arrangement of ideas before writing; step one of the writing process

Do you free write?

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


Think before you write
. Whether you jot down a brief outline in your notebook, draw comprehensive diagrams or kick around a few ideas in your head, you’re performing the first step in the writing process. You may think prewriting is prehistoric (3rd grade, anyone?), but let’s compare. Any professional painter will tell you to spend at least as much time preparing to paint as painting itself. Otherwise, you won’t see professional results.

The same holds true for writing. If you want to write something worth reading, take the time to prepare. Your prep work will reflect the scope of your project (novel vs. blog post) and your comfort level. Some people are comfortable mentally prepping before blogging while others will want a more detailed outline in print. Either way works, as long as it works for you.

The prewriting part of the process may not occur behind a desk or even soaking up the rays on a patio with your laptop. In fact, physical activity is a great way to spur ideas and think about what you want to write. Or maybe you prefer a luxurious bubble bath with a good book or chatting with a friend over coffee. It doesn’t matter where the light bulb goes off, as long as it does. (I like confiding in a pink fuzzy tennis ball, but that’s just me.)

“You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you’ve got something to say.”  -F. Scott Fitzgerald

And prewriting is the time to figure out that something, not the writing phase.

FREE Download –> The Power of the Pen: 5 Steps to Writing That Produces Results

Post Script to Prewriting

Do you prewrite?

How do you prewrite (mentally, outlining, diagramming, etc.)?

Anything you’d like to add about the prewriting process?

If you have any writing-related questions, please ask. Or we can handle all of your writing needs so you can focus on saving the world before bedtime.

Cheers,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo

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!
Facebook logo Google+ logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Pinterest logo LinkedIn logo YouTube logo

Wilson: Friend, Confidant & Idea Man

As I’ve noted before, I like to get moving when I’m trying to think,  brainstorm or solve a problem. It just works for me and apparently I’m not alone, as I’ve seen this tactic cited in various business and news publications.

Related reading: Need an Idea? Just Walk Away…

Granted I’m an active person and sometimes need to dispel a little extra energy, so sitting behind a desk just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes I’ll hit the trails for a blood-pumping run or a quiet yet vigorous hike, where I’m always inspired by the sheer beauty of nature.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

The beauty of nature inspires me.

On other days, I’m content to take a brisk walk around my neighborhood, through the park, soaking up the sunshine, to get the ideas flowing. That’s when Wilson joins me.

Wilson -- my idea generator

Meet Wilson, my friend, confidant & idea man.

Wilson is my friend, confidant and idea man. I’ve hashed out many a good plan bouncing Wilson while traversing the streets of my neighborhood. I’ve made decisions, outlined blog posts and constructed marketing plans for clients with him by my side. For some reason, he inspires ideas within me. Perhaps it’s the added activity of bouncing the ball or the rhythmic feel of the worn, fuzzy surface hitting my hand. Whatever it is, it works.

Yes, Wilson is a pink, fuzzy tennis ball. On a whim, I picked up a tube of tennis balls on clearance at Target a few years ago. (Hence, the pink.) I don’t own a tennis racquet, so clearly that wasn’t the plan. I just knew when I looked at that tube on the shelf that I needed to take Wilson (and his bros) home. Who knew?

I’m curious… what unexpected item or situation sparks your genius? Are you a mover and shaker or do you like to meditate and chill out? Do you have a lucky charm that you always take to presentations or always drink the same tea while writing? Do you hit the cinema or catch a poetry reading when you need to crank up the old brain?

What inspires you?

Cheers,
Jaime

Join the conversation: 
Facebook logo  Google+ branding  Twitter bird icon  Instagram  Pinterest logo  YouTube  LinkedIn_Logo60px