Last week I took a five day writing sabbatical (read more). I was holed up at home and ended up getting a cold, but the week was illuminating nonetheless. Being unplugged for five days helped me see with absolute clarity what was working–and not working–in my life and around how I use technology.
At the end of every day, I would take a few minutes to record the “gifts” that had come to me over the course of the last 8 hours–revelations, insights, shifts, perspectives and new ways of seeing my old world– in an aqua blue spiral bound notebook I had purchased just for this purpose.
Here are five of those gems:
1. Monotasking puts me in a GREAT mood (did you know this is a legitimate often-used term? Scary!). My brain was overjoyed at being asked to do just one thing– writing–and nothing else. It felt decadent, inspiring, validating and fed me on a very deep level. I plan to consciously create more opportunities like this in the coming year.
2. I’m STILL trying to do too much in a given day (my old theme song). Earlier this year I shared about the 3 types of stress (read more) and while I’ve come so far, I still have such a long way to go. Moving through last week at a humane, sane pace–truly a form of extreme self-care–reminded me of this. Baby steps sweet Renee.
3. There are degrees of presence. I just launched a new telecourse on “letting go” where I share three key “paths” that help me to go with the flow: practicing self-care, cultivating trust and being more present. However, moments this week illuminated that often when I think I’m fully present, in actuality, an old 8 track tape is still squawking in the background. Good to know …now, back to my breath.
4. It’s really ok to just do ….nothing. Wednesday I was worthless. In the grips of congestion and fatigue, my biggest accomplishment of the day was a shower. I watched an old familiar battle call rear its head that morning (“Really! you have carved out this precious time and you’re just sitting there like a slug?!”) and then sent it on its way. It was a gift to see that I still am still harboring an old, worn belief that says I have to be productive to be worthy; thank goodness I know it’s not true.
5. I get my best ideas when I’m in nature and my brain is in “vacation mode.” By the fifth day of my sabbatical, ideas and shifts were pouring forth like fresh water from a newly discovered spring. My spacious, relaxed, happy brain was enjoying optimal conditions for problem solving, idea generation and big picture thinking. It was a huge reminder that my best work is done while breathing in fresh air, walking and talking …away from the computer.
I need regularly scheduled sabbaticals and digital detoxes in order to re-balance, recalibrate and most importantly to see what I can’t see when I’m stuck in my normal routine and habitual ways. Closing my laptop, telling hundreds of email requests to “wait,” putting on an out-of-office reply and delegating to my team so I can focus on fueling my creative fire and giving my mind a rest, opened me up to a whole new perspective (and brought me closer to my ultimate dream of envisioning how I can eventually be off email!).
I got clear on what I need to tweak and what I need to re-route and I recommitted to my promise to live like “Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Five days well spent? YES! A luxury? NO! This was probably the best use of 40 hours in a long time. Already scheduling my next one.
Feeling called to take a sabbatical but wanting support and the company of others? Join me for one of my upcoming 2014 Self-Renewal Retreats. I’d love to hold the space for you to gain clarity/focus around what’s next and hear what you most need to hear!
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by work-life balance speaker/author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. Her newest release is Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 11 year-old son. More on her background here.