Learning To Unplug As An Entrepreneur
When you’re attempting to detach yourself from your work and social media, it can get tough. Facebook, Twitter, and other websites and apps are used so often they feel like routine. Breaking the habit of checking each one every so often outside of working hours isn’t something that can be done overnight, nor should it be taken lightly. Social media, emails, et cetera can be addictive despite being necessary to function in our increasingly smartphone-laden world.
The key part of the unplugging experience is not that social media and technology are bad. They’re convenient tools to keep up with friends and handle business as a busy, but singular entity. It’s overuse and overreliance when you shouldn’t be focusing on work that can make them toxic to your ability to function without, and like most good things, should be done in moderation. If you’re finding yourself already down the slippery, compulsive email and phone-checking slope, you’ll want to take these steps to back away from technology. Here are some tips and suggestions to ease you out of your dependence and unplug yourself from your business.
Little by Little
Unplugging should be done piecemeal, with baby steps and breather periods. Like any other habit or routine, the “cut it cold turkey” method seldom sticks for long. You should begin unplugging as soon as you leave your place of work. Wind down your busy thoughts during the commute home. Listening to podcasts
during your commute is a great way to divert your thinking. At home, start with the simplest exercise by putting your phone on silent during morning and evening hours. That includes notifications in addition to your ringtone. The less it rings and buzzes, the less often you think about it. Go about your off-hours only checking messages and calls as necessary, and keep your mind on your family and personal tasks. The less you think about your phone, the better. Removing any notification-laden apps from your home screen can also be helpful in this exercise. Anything that helps you access work-necessary content without also tempting you to check the unnecessary apps and websites is key.
Replace some of the tools you otherwise used your smartphone or computer for with their more mundane counterparts. Buying a traditional alarm clock to replace the one set by your phone lets you place your phone far away from you overnight, decreasing your likelihood to check it first thing in the morning and letting you avoid scanning your phone before bed. If you do need to use your computer outside of work,download an internet lockout program to prevent your usage from drifting from the intended. Keep notes or to-do lists on good old-fashioned notepads.
Set boundaries on what you can and can’t engage in, and for how long you’re going to allow yourself to spend on social media and other pursuits when with family, friends, and away from your business. Test yourself to see how long you can go without checking your phone after you wake up in the morning. Push the limit with each successive day, until you no longer feel compelled to look immediately at work notifications on waking. Make your phone a method for easy access, and not your sole tool to complete tasks.
Start reading a book on your off-hours. If you have an alternative to checking your phone while you wait in waiting rooms or during other downtimes, you’ll drop the compulsion. While it might be tempting to use an E-book app on your phone to read, steps like these are much more effective if you are not acknowledging your phone for longer swaths of time.
Off the Grid
Perhaps the most drastic way to properly unplug is to physically remove yourself from your business for a period of time. Everyone has somewhere they’ve always wanted to go, and the best opportunity for a relaxing tech-free adventure is with a good, old-fashioned cross-country road trip. Give notice to those who might wonder where you’ve been, or even bring along a pal, but make sure the rule stays: no social media, no emails, no unwarranted phone calls, and certainly no talking about it. Make the road trip something you’re experiencing as it happens and not something you experience to post for likes on Facebook or Twitter.
If you’re not feeling so dramatic with your unplugging, you still need to find a way to divert your attention. Picking up a new hobby is an ideal way to channel your former tweeting and emailing time into something constructive is one of the better ways to handle it. All your newfound free time can be used in learning an instrument or other skill, like cross stitching or knitting. Starting a small garden is also an option, as it provides a constructive routine. Exercising on a regular basis can also keep your mind away from the invasive entrepreneur-oriented thoughts.
Diligence and repetition are the best way to build new, healthier habits. Whether it’s about exercising, eating, or social media, habit-building is a full-time job that can’t be expedited. Keep yourself calm and distracted from your smartphone compulsions and engage more with the physical world around you, as it will be just as—if not more—rewarding.
Haley is from Gilbert, Arizona. She loves reading and writing just about anything under the sun. In her spare time, you can find her exploring outdoors or sippin’ on a craft brew.