June 2010

This past holiday weekend was spent on Maryland’s eastern shore, near St. Michael’s.  We went over to visit dear friends and support the Oxford Fine Arts Festival where our talented pals had exhibits. My coaching work has been extremely busy the past few months, and I really needed a relaxing weekend to recharge. One of my top intentions for the weekend was to spend some time alone, doing whatever I wanted to do, without any agenda or schedule. I also wanted to enjoy my beau, my hosts, and their beautiful waterfront home. As I packed, I realized that an essential ingredient to achieving my intentions was to be “unplugged” for three days. Not doing any work or answering emails for several whole days seemed daunting if not downright scary at first. But I knew inside that it was so necessary.

The computer stayed behind, along with the back issues of Harvard Business Review and my stack of “To Be Read” materials. Once, Saturday morning, my hands moved as if drawn by a magnet towards my friend’s laptop. She gently reminded me that I had declared a work-free weekend. I snapped back into relaxation mode, but it was a close call. Eschewing the siren call of email, I sat on the lovely covered porch, stared at the water, took walks with my dog, slept with the windows open, listened to the birds, cooked with my beau, wrote in my journal, went out on the boat for a cocktail cruise, talked about painting and photography with my artist friends, napped on the couch, laughed with my hosts at their funny stories, and read magazines that I never touch outside the dentist’s waiting room. With each passing hour, I relaxed more into the moment. Even though we were away less than three days, I felt as refreshed as if I had been on an enchanted island for a week.

What I learned from this was that I need to completely unplug from work at least one day a week. Especially when I’m as busy as I am these days, taking time for myself is essential. The benefits far outweigh the risk (I’m betting every single one of you can get by just fine on the weekends without an email from me). By taking one day off each week I will have time to think, ponder, and just let my mind go. I’ll be more focused and refreshed, and thus more fully present with my clients, friends, and family.

Do you unplug completely at some point each week? What would it take to banish the Blackberry for a period of time? What would your life be like to declare certain times, days or places email-free zones? Don’t laugh…it is easier said than done. But once you’ve done it…oh, the freedom!

Sharon Keys Seal

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