Living the “online lifestyle” can be a rigorous and intense job (whether you know it or not). As a matter of fact, you’ll be shocked at how easy it is to burn yourself out on this glamorous thing we call the internet… Take me for example. Back in 2006/2007 I had one of the hottest shows on the internet with my Photoshop Quicktips Podcast. I was getting millions of downloads, thousands of hits on my website and countless emails, messages, and tweets. At first I was all about it. I ate, slept, and breathed that show and my “image” 24/7. I’d wake up in the middle of the night to answer emails. Hell, I’d even take my phone to the bathroom with me and tweet while I was… you know.
If you’ve paid attention to this crazy career of mine, you know that somewhere along the line I lost my focus. In fact, I all but disappeared from the web for nearly a year. I left my show in the peak of its popularity (and mine for that matter) and let it sit by the wayside. I burned out, plain and simple. However, if I had taken the time to unplug every now and then, I don’t think I would’ve crashed out the way I did. These days I’m much better about unplugging myself from the internet, and I’m finally feeling like I’m back.
There are a lot of people like me. Those of you who live to tweet, message and publish. I get that, I really do… But seriously, we all need to take some time and smell the roses just a little. I’m at the point now where I set aside little parts of my day as a designated “quiet time.” These are small, yet carefully planned moments where I just simply get away from the screens that surround me and just breathe. My favorite time to unplug is in the mornings when I run. Yes, I still listen to my iPod but my iPhone remains in Airplane Mode for the duration of my workout. This allows me to simply get away and focus on my task at hand… running! I also take several strategic breaks during my “workday.” These might be 5-10 minute intermissions where I go take a walk outside or just hangout with my dog, but I’m NOT connected whatsoever during this period.
Giving myself these little strategic breaks allows me to remain focus while I’m at my desk and I believe it keeps me from burning myself out too. I’m also trying to work in 1 day per week where I unplug for at least 75% of the day… This one is going to take some time (and patience) but I’ll get there. Eventually I want to be able to unplug completely on the weekends, but I realize that’s not happening for quite some time. This past summer I stunned my wife by unplugging for an entire week during our honeymoon, but that was a first and a last as far as I’m concerned… Sorry honey!
No matter what your chosen profession or how much you love creating the content your creating, you always need that time to simply unwind and take a breath. Trust me, if you don’t, you’ll wind up just like me back in those early days, and that’s not a good place to be. Now I’m sure many of you are wondering exactly how to do this, well let me give you some suggestions.
- Find a non-technical hobby –In 2011 I embarked on a journey for health and wellness, thus my new hobby is working out and being active. Whenever I feel like unplugging, I go for a run or a walk.
- Get a pet –Seriously, having a new pet is great for unplugging. You have to attend to them regularly (especially a dog) and you’ll enjoy the 5-10min “playtime” you get with them during the day.
- Practice meditation – This is a great idea! Meditation is something you’ll need to study and understand before you do it, but it can be one of the best forms of relaxation. Plus it will help you clarify ideas and become a more balanced person.
- Pick up a book… and read it – Yeah, this one sounds simple, but you’d be surprised at how many people have abandoned the traditional “art” of reading.
- Make a list of to-dos – No, not a computer list. Make yourself a list of things to do, whether it be around the house or in the yard or whatever… Just make a list of things that need to be done that don’t involve a computer, phone, or internet connection.
Ok, there you have it. I hope you take this serious and start to find ways that you can unplug in your everyday life. If you do, I promise, you’ll thank me for it… and so will your wife/husband! Oh, and one more thing… Be sure to keep those iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, or whatever it is that you carry with you, in AIRPLANE MODE while you’re doing this. That’s the whole point of unplugging yourself. You want nothing but complete and uninterrupted silence.