I’ve been trying to write this single post for the best part of a year now. I’ve been saying this for a while now, and over this last 18-months since I’ve finished university I’ve begun to notice this more and more: we all spend too much time online.
One thing I’ve noticed amount the cycling community is the common trend in the reason why we love to cycle. We love to escape, forget about paying the rent, the bills, and what’s going on at work for a while. This only needs to be for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning, but it makes all the difference to how we feel and behave over the following week.
It’s this same reason that I love wild camping and photography so much. It gets us away from the constant daily feed of information that we’re exposed to. It lets us switch off.
This brief break isn’t really enough, though. We all spend too much time switched on, checking emails, thinking about problems, and how we’re going to pay that damned rent. Even sat here now, writing this post, I noticed myself go to compulsively check my phone after a ping over my music notifying me of an email. Why do I even care? The chances are I’ll just archive it without even glancing past what spam-bot sent it.
This isn’t helped by the growing pressure from companies like Samsung and Apple to buy their latest devices designed to stop us switching off — the smart watch. Do we really need a notification on our wrist as well to tell us we’ve just received another message that we really don’t care about? Is it that hard to reach into your pocket and pull your phone out?
This new-fangled always-online world that has grown in the last decade stops us spending the time with friends and family that, as human beings, we truly need. We’re not designed to be always switched-on and always thinking about the utility bills and what we were doing at work that morning. What we really need to do is go offline once in a while, escape from the day-to-day rumble of life.
We need to go off-grid.
Over the last year or so it seems that others have also started to have these same thought patterns. Recently the CEO of Travis CI wrote about how staff don’t truly take leave when they’re ‘available if needed’. This means that people aren’t truly offline; they’re still on-grid.
People seem to try and find excuses not to disconnect from their places of responsibility; I have to do this, or I must help so-un-so with that, and perhaps What if something happens? You need to learn to trust your team, and have them learn when they need to contact you. Not every-time a decision needs to be made, or every-time something goes wrong, but when they truly need your assistance to get the job done.
This way you can go away and truly switch-off and stop thinking about your place of work, and your other responsibilities. The rent isn’t important in the scheme of things, it can wait. So can that filing and cleaning the bathroom.
Its at this time you really start to recharge. Once you’ve had a while off while truly forgetting about the smaller things which, in truth, are not as important as you may first think, you’ll have truly recharged. At this point you’ll go back to your responsibilities feeling better about yourself, thinking more clearly, with more motivation and feeling more creative.
You’ll be ready to tackle the daily grind once again.