Unplugging: Productivity & Effectiveness

I recently wrote about my latest trip with Entrepreneur’s Organization to Cuba, and how I went through a bit of a technical detox. Since returning from that trip, I have changed a few habits that I will detail in this post. It has now become apparent to me that this remedy was long overdue – the amount of focus and freedom I have has increased tremendously as a result of strategically unplugging from email, text, and the unrelenting stream of information coming from the multitude of devices I was constantly “monitoring”.

Here are a couple of takeaways that have accrued from what I am calling my recent “technical sobriety.”

Focus on what is truly important
After I got back from my trip, I soon realized that email is not work. For many of you, this may be an obvious statement. But for me it was an epiphany of sorts, especially since I have suffered from an affliction I will affectionately call “must-respond-immediately-itis”. I completely rearranged the way I manage my email inbox. I now have a team approach, delegating the majority of my routine email responses to my administrative assistant. This one tactic alone has greatly improved my efficiency.  We have a rule that on Friday the inbox must be down to zero. We also use trello.com to manage our to-do list – everyday, each email is either responded to or put on a to-do list for me or another team member, which I can then prioritize immediately. I can now focus on the bigger picture without distraction. For those of you who do not have an admin, one of my hero’s Tim Ferris shares some great tips for managing email HERE.

I do realize the irony of this post – you are most likely receiving this through an email and/or clicked on a link posted on various social networks. But trust me, I’m not saying you should abandon technology… just that it should have some boundaries and not be used as a crutch or as distraction from the truly important things on your to-do list.  I recently read an amazing book by Austinite Joseph Jaworski titled Synchronicity: The Inner Path of Leadership in which he describes what he calls, “the trap of overactivity,” as a major block to your true leadership potential. Most people just keep themselves so busy, and I have fallen into this trap. We somehow put off being who we can be and taking on the true challenges we are capable of.

Get out in nature to truly connect to yourself
For most evenings, I’m in airplane mode until the next day, and because of this I’ve developed a great new habit of walking the dog each night with my fiancée. Although I am a long time advocate of yoga and exercise, I believe that walking in nature is an elixir for the sedentary lifestyles most of us tend to lead.

Here is how Henry David Thoreau describes walking versus exercise:

The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours — as the Swinging of dumb-bells or chairs; but is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. If you would get exercise, go in search of the springs of life. Think of a man’s swinging dumbbells for his health, when those springs are bubbling up in far-off pastures unsought by him!”

 This was written in 1861, but applies today more than ever. Walking has replaced Netflix for me.

Lastly, if you can hike in the national parks, it truly is a way to refresh and connect back to yourself. HERE are some pictures from my recent trip to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone. I came back feeling so refreshed (and to a very clean email inbox, I might add).

So with that, I encourage you all to think about taking a digital detox. Put your phone away and start enjoying the world around you. I promise you’ll thank me for it.

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