Lessons from time offline

 40 minutes out of Queenstown, NZ : 2012

40 minutes out of Queenstown, NZ : 2012

So… I'm back online. I missed you guys! And I want to share with you some thoughts I had about my time offline.

This one's a bit of a long one, so grab yourself something hot and settle in.

So what exactly did I do during my time offline? Well… I worked as usual but I did things that didn't require an internet connection and used my laptop only for design-related things. I also read books (the physical kind), I woke up without an alarm and only when I felt rested, I drew and I painted, I repainted our living room and I journaled.

Mind you, I only took a week offline, but the impact has been H.U.G.E. Will I be taking more time offline in the future? You bet!!!

Here's what I learnt:

I'm a slave 4 u

Prior to my time offline I was an absolute slave to notifications. Those random little chimes would have me jumping up to see what news awaited me. It reminded me a lot of when my brother and I were younger and we would race to the phone whenever it rang. My body gets filled with both anxiety and anticipation - so much so that it's really hard to ignore the need to check. Is someone saying hi / sharing my work / sending love? Or is someone going to tell me that there's a problem with my site / their recent order / my latest post? Oh I would be such a ball of confused energy! I'd check my email and social media sites whenever that chime would ring just for a bit of relief. Yep… that chime had trained me well. It was my master and I was it's slave.

Lesson 1:

Very few notifications require an immediate response. Out of all the emails I received after that week offline, there was only ONE that I read that had me bummed about missing out on something by not checking my email more regularly. One. And as it turns out, it was totally fixable and I didn't miss out on the opportunity after all. And the tweets and messages I got from social media were responded to in due time and without any problems. So what was all the fuss about?

I do things a little differently now. I've turned all my notifications off on my laptop and mobile devices, and have set them all to manual settings. I'm definitely more relaxed about my email and social media now… much less reactive. I process my emails once a day and only once I've done my most important tasks. And if I miss a day, then hey, no bigs. I also respond to messages during set times in my day. Haha - take that digital notifications. I'm taking the reins now :)

But what if they don't love me anymore?

Taking time offline filled me with fear that friends and followers would forget about me. What if they stop reading my blog because I haven't commented on theirs in a little while? What if I miss amazing opportunities? What if readers get frustrated by my absence and unfollow? What if people think I'm a snob? What about the connections I've made? Will they be lost? I admit these thoughts entered my mind from time to time.

But then I just decided to give you guys a little more credit than that!

Lesson 2:

Those that connect with your story, enjoy your work and want to be in your life, will be. And those that don't, won't. You can't force friendship or community. Though I was off for a week lovely folk still reached out to me and shared my work. It made my heart feel so full. Not only did this reassure me that friendships I've developed online are true and something really special, but it also reassures me that you guys understand what my work is about. And in extension, you understand what I'm about. A girl's gotta get out and explore sometimes! And other times she needs space and quiet to do some art. You get it. And I could not be more grateful for that.

Give your brain some credit

Prior to my digital sabbatical, whenever I needed inspiration for something I would jump online to do "research". I'd check out what others were doing and sought what might tickle my fancy. But I couldn't do that during my digital sabbatical. So what did I do? Shocking, I used my brain. And even more shocking, I had my own ideas sitting there - idle - waiting for the space and quiet for me to notice them.

Lesson 3:

Be inspired by your own life, let your ideas marinate, tap into that beautiful brain of yours. It can get really noisy online. So many people are doing such wonderful things, but how do you do your own thing? Seeking too much information from external sources can be counterproductive to creating your own work. Give yourself some space to see what brilliant ideas come from within. Tap into your own dreams and desires.

What do I do now when I need inspiration? I sit outside in the sun, I cloud watch, I go for a walk, I sit in a cafe on my own with just a cup of tea, a notebook and a pen. I slow down, I get quiet and I look within. I really, really recommend this for anyone out there struggling to find their voice / passion / purpose or who are agonising over a decision.

A not-to-do-list

The book that I read during my time offline was the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. And there could not have been a more perfect read for that week. Tim Ferriss is a master of laser focus, cutting out the fluff, and creating time for the things that matter. For much of the week I was contemplating questions like:

+ Which 20% of sources in my life lead to 80% of my happiness, pleasure and fulfilment?

+ Which 20% of sources in my life leads to 80% of my stress, worry and misery?

+ What 20% of tasks in my business lead to 80% of my income and satisfaction?

+ What are the tasks in my business that only I can do?

+ Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important? Or am I inventing things to do to make myself feel like I'm "busy" and important?

Lesson 4:

Being selective - doing less - is the path of the productive. I don't have all the answers, but just asking myself these questions has completely shifted my perspective on life and business. I feel like I'm getting much closer to figuring what few things I need to put my time and effort into and what I can forget about to ensure I get the most of out life by spending time on what's most important to me.  

Oh sweet liberation

Oh my goodness… the freedom I felt being offline! From the very first day of my digital sabbatical I felt like I had more time to do the things I wanted and with much more focus. How liberating it was not to have to answer to my devices. To spend half the time sitting at my desk. The past week has really given me a glimpse into that elusive ideal entrepreneurial lifestyle I've been searching for. What is the point of working for yourself if you can't live the way you want to? I felt much more location-independent than I have for the past 12 months. I worked in lots of different locations during my week offline: I read outside, I wrote in cafes, I drew while lying sprawled across our living room floor.

Lesson 5:

Make your life work for you. One thing I started thinking about was: how can I simplify my life and business so that I can be anywhere at anytime and have what I need to do what I want to do? Basically, that's a long-winded way to say that I dream of marrying my business with travel… somehow. How amazing would that be?! No plans just yet… just ponderings… but it has me rather excited! Now that I know what I want, all I need to do is figure out how to make that work. Simple, right? ;)

If you guys are considering taking intentional time offline, I would really encourage it.

Hope you're having great day! xo