The importance of switching off
The festive season is well and truly upon us! The winter solstice has been and gone. Santa and his entourage are beginning pre-flight checks.
It’s time to switch off from work and relax. But this is modern life. It’s hectic and the hybrid or home-working revolution has eroded the boundaries between work and play. If you want to really switch off, you have to be intentional about it. Here’s how…
WRITE STUFF DOWN
If you do nothing else on this list, pleeeeease take heed of this tip. It’s the master key to accessing proper mental rest.
Write stuff down. Write down everything work-related, that’s on your mind. Make a comprehensive to-do list, rough project plan or mind map. Whatever works for you. It need only take ten minutes, max.
Whether you consciously acknowledge it or not, having work stuff on your mind creates some degree of background anxiety. It’s subtle, yet pervasive.
The act of writing down your work ‘stuff’ in a place where you can rely on your future self to see it in a timely manner, has the effect of giving you full permission to switch off. Your brain, after all, is for creativity, enjoyment and nostalgia – not for remembering tasks. See David Allen’s Getting Things Done for more.
Twenty years on and I still love and embrace those principles. This is the primary tip that really enables me to switch off with confidence.
Think about what you will be doing, rather than what you won’t
Truly embrace the festive break. Lean into the festive celebrations in whatever way is meaningful to you. Don’t just think about not working; think about what you will actively be doing instead, even if it’s just watching a movie. That slight shift in mindset will see you being more engaged and ‘in the moment’.
Use the tools that come with your tech
I won’t bore you with a ‘how-to’ guide here. But be sure to…
- Use the do-not-disturb features on your phone
- Enable your out-of-office responder
- Set schedules, ‘away’ statuses and geofences, as appropriate in your collaboration tools
Give pernicious tech a rest!
This is particularly important if you’re a so-called ‘knowledge worker’ or have to sit in front of a screen as part of your job. Yes, there’s a difference between looking at a screen for work, versus play, and you might even really enjoy social media doom-scrolling. However, it’s worth experimenting with taking a clean break. The effects of too much screen time are subtly and stealthily damaging.
Also, taking a proper break from your phone or laptop removes the temptation to ‘just take a peep’ at your work email, Teams or Slack.
You don’t have to do an Ironman; nor, the ubiquitous Park Run. Just a nice long walk will do. It nourishes the soul.
Say no to the incremental demands and commitments that our work asks of us. At least for a while.
Wow, what a u-turn 🙂 Say yes to the outlandish, the daring or even the hedonistic. Let your hair down.
Dance, even. If you dare.
Indulge in a hobby or pastime
Gosh, that sounds so old-fashioned (so does my use of the word ‘gosh’)! But if we’re not careful it’s easy to become completely unimaginative with how we spend our time.
Here’s how I see it: If the legendary Tom Daley can make knitting cool (which he has), then it’s flawless logic to declare that all hobbies are potentially cool. Whatever – it’s the mindfulness and immersion as much as the final outcome that matters here.
Be sure to let your clients, suppliers and colleagues know that you’re away. They will thank the refreshed and highly motivated version of you, when you return with laser-like focus in the new year.
Erm… we’re away now until the new year 🙂
Wishing you joy and serenity on behalf of everyone here at Oval.