Use this one easy technique over the weekend to gain mental clarity and increase next week’s innovation, creativity, and productivity.
Creativity is the driving force behind innovative solutions, products, and marketing, yet most people don’t have a plan to nurture it. You have a plan for managing your finances, developing your employees, and growing your business, so why not creativity? It is just as critical to your success–even if you’re making widgets in an assembly line–because it gives you an edge over your competition.
But how do you nurture creativity?
There are a multitude of ways, but this past week gave me a surprisingly easy onethat not only increased my creative output and mental clarity, but also gave me more quality time with my family and friends. How, you ask? I used the “off” button on my cell phone. I didn’t just put it on vibrate or do not disturb–I turned it all the way off–along with my computer.
Does the idea of a tech-free weekend scare you or sound utterly luxurious? Personally, I was feeling a bit over-connected and I just wanted a break. I have been prepping for several big events I have coming up this fall, so I have been working overtime, and last Wednesday, I had a long, 14-hour magazine photo shoot. The week leading up to it was especially chaotic, and I was just feeling exhausted after the shoot. I knew I needed a break, so on Thursday, when my phone rang on my way in for a massage (to make up for those 14 hours on my feet in heels), I was done! I gave notice I was turning off all of my tech until Monday morning.
I decided I was only using technology that didn’t want anything from me, so I still used my kindle, car, air conditioning, TV, etc.. Only technology that brought me relaxation felt acceptable. Anything that was going to give me notifications of things I “needed” to do was turned off and put away. (I call this my annoying tech.) No more email notifications, tweets, invitations to play silly games on Facebook–nothing. Nada. No More.
So what happened?
Initially, it was difficult. I couldn’t believe how many times I wanted to look at my phone for silly reasons, or no reason at all. This is why I turned it all the way off–it’s become a reflex! How many times in the day do you waste time on your phone? For me, it’s too many. My lovely smartphone is the most distracting thing I own.
When I didn’t have it on hand, I had to find other things to occupy my mind. I looked around. I watched people. I spoke to my husband (about non-email matters!).
Turning off my phone gave me mental space.
Like many business owners, I still thought about business… a lot. I wanted to turn on my phone or computer and jot down notes, but I didn’t. Instead, I actually did some brainstorming in the car with my husband and let him take notes on his phone while I drove. Then, when I was home later, I pulled out a yellow legal pad and a pen, and wrote things down. I had so many new creative ideas that I had to do something! I don’t like to work over the weekends, but I was on fire with new ideas–I couldn’t believe it!
There are a million excuses you could come up with for not unplugging, many of which boil down to: what if there’s an emergency? Here’s my solution: let someone else be the emergency contact for the weekend. My husband had no interest in unplugging, so I let people know I wouldn’t be available via Facebook (which–amazingly–didn’t crash their system!), and when we went out of town, our friend who was house- and dog-sitting for us texted my husband with any questions. Surely, you have someone who could be an emergency contact for you: a friend, relative, or spouse. You could even take turns and be their emergency contact next weekend.
There was a time before cellphones and most of us survived it. Yes, we got stood up when appointments were written down wrong in our day-planners, and people forgot to get milk at the grocery store. Yes, we had to knock on a stranger’s door and ask them to call AAA when our car broke down. If safety is a real concern, keep your phone with you for driving down those lonely country roads, but try keeping it off.
You’ll be amazed at how much detaching from technology for a few days can reinvigorate, refresh, and revitalize you. Your family will thank you, and your business will too.