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After meeting Arianna Huffington last year at #Blogher14 and listening to her fascinating discussion about sleeping her way to the top (by actually getting enough rest – get your mind out of the gutter!), disconnecting from social media and email for several hours at a time, and how nurturing and caring for herself lead to a more fulfilled life both personally and professional, I was inspired. I wanted to actually READ a book again, starting with “Thrive: the Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating A Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” from Arianna that I was blessed to have her sign.
It didn’t happen.
I started the book but never finished it. And I certainly didn’t find the time to challenge myself to make a change like she suggested, even for a week. So this month, along with my fellow From Left To Write book club members, I was finishing the book AND making a 7-day commitment to myself. I was going attempt to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, possibly event nap and set boundaries on my email / social media consumption. Maybe I would even take an entire day off!
Here’s what happened during my 7 days:
1. Napping. I napped during four of those days. I love a good nap, and I have always found naps to be restorative. However, it’s incredible unproductive for me to lose two hours in the middle of the day when I own my own business. Napping on the weekends that I don’t have my girls is easier to accomplish. If I could, I would nap every day. Score = SUCCESS
2. 7-8 hours of sleep per night. As much as I would like this to happen, it is not realistic for me. In order for that to happen, I need to be in bed by 10:00pm. My other half coaches volleyball three nights per week and doesn’t get home until almost 11pm. I have to take medication to get to sleep as it is, and there is no way that I want to go almost the entire week without spending any time with him. For me, 6-7 hours is more the normal, although in a perfect world I would love to strive for 8. Score = FAIL
3. Plugging my phone in across the room. I tried. REALLY TRIED. But I just couldn’t do it. The pragmatist in me kept running horrible scenarios in my head of someone breaking in to the house and my phone being across the room where I couldn’t access it instead of RIGHT BY MY BED where it should be. I broke out in a sweat. I twitched. I drove my boyfriend insane. I made it ONE NIGHT where it sat on the floor next to my bed instead of actually ON my nightstand, 6 inches fro my face and that was the best I could do. Score = MASSIVE FAIL
4. Email Boundaries. As someone who was getting 500-600 emails a day in to seven different email addresses on my phone, email was always something that stressed me out. Try as I could, the sense of, “If I take a break now, it will just be twice as bad tomorrow” has always prevented me from really turning it off completely.” However, prior to this challenge I went through and unsubscribed to a massive amount of lists that were clogging up my inbox. I spent several hours streamlining my mailboxes, and then started the challenge, which cut my incoming messages down by 70%. I didn’t answer any business related emails on Saturday or Sunday, and instead waited until Monday morning, and (while it was INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT), I felt like the boundary was good for me. Now, I did check it once each morning to see that there was nothing critical. And then I left it alone. Score = SUCCESS
5. Social Media Boundaries. Right before I started the challenge, I had become obsessed with Pinterest. Why now instead of years ago, I have no idea. And it wasn’t Pinterest in general but Pinterest ON MY PHONE! I loved that it was small and compact and easy for me to flip around, create new boards and pin away. YIKES! My new favorite past-time was hanging out in bed, watching television (well, listening to television) and Pinning!. My alarm goes off in the morning, and the first thing I do between slamming the snooze button again and again is check Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. (It doesn’t help that I do this for a living and I can justify it as it being my JOB). With not being able to get my phone away from my bed, this one didn’t go so well. Although, on two mornings I managed to wait until I was out of the shower to check my Facebook, etc. Which is a delay of like 45 minutes (what is the equivalent of that in dog time???) Score = CLEAR FAIL
As a business owner, the fear of missing something is significant. Being a blogger and a social media consultant doesn’t help when you are trying to disconnect or set boundaries when it comes to your own social media usage. But I completely get what she is saying – it IS important to take care of yourself and having meaningful interactions with real people, have interesting conversations offline, and put limitations on technology so that you can actually LIVE and enjoy your life while you are in it, not spend it frazzled and attached to a phone or tablet. I’ll continue to push myself to adjust, set limitations, and challenge myself to find quality time for myself and those around me – offline.
Is unplugging something you struggle with? How do you manage it?