Want a work-life hack that's so obvious it's easy to overlook?
Break away from your digital environment to refresh your creativity outdoors
I’ll make a wager: most hours and most minutes of your life are disrupted by beeps, pop-ups, prompts, and pushes from your phone or computer.
If you lead people it can feel like the most important work is the meeting, the constant communication. Not only being present but on top of it all. Your days might be regulated by push notifications.
So, how do you get proactive? More than that, how do you revitalize your creativity and strategic thinking (without having to take 2 weeks off like I just did—which was wonderful, btw)?
The more I lead a team and the more responsibility and creative challenges I confront in work, life and parenting, the more I realize I need to step away from the clamour of digital notifications, leave my desk and find the deep time to be quiet so that I can be creative, strategic, focused and just think.
What we’ll find when we venture outside
What do you think we'll discover when we do it?
Perhaps something like what I discovered on the beaches and the cornfields of my life.
While I've been away from my desk the last few weeks, I rediscovered that with the rush of wind comes a rush of ideas for future projects.
But also, remembrances: ideas to resurrect, things put down or forgotten that, once cleaned by the wind and the outdoor air, I can pick up again.
My heart became a kite and flew on the wind, my world immediately became wider and more enriched.
This is what's available for us out there away from the noise, away from the distractions. Refreshing space we need to conserve and to protect.
Proactively refresh your leadership thinking and creativity
If you’re a breathing human:
You need the real world.
Nature is calling.
And you're mostly likely missing the forest for the pixels.
It's so obvious, but it needs to be said out loud.
If you don’t have the luxury of taking continuous days off any time soon to record podcasts on the edge of cornfields or to stand in the wind on a picturesque beach, I have some good news for you: the outdoors didn't go anywhere, they're just sitting there, waiting for you. And you can enter them today while at work.
The main objections to the obvious
What are yours? I have my go-to excuses:
a busy job working alongside colleagues who are all remote and in different timezones with meetings all the time,
a writing life that requires me to sit down and pencil it out or to type, type, type.
Yeah yeah yeah.
No one told you (or me) that we’re not allowed to walk away from our desks. Don’t be a self-inflicted Zoom slave.2
Start with a commitment (to yourself)
Part of the reason for this post is to hold myself accountable. To overtly note the obvious and to surface the lived experience I just had on my vacay. (If he brings up his vacation one more time I’m going to report him).3
I'm making a commitment. Perhaps a wager with myself that it’s possible to bring some of this outdoor refreshment into my work life.
Here’s the life-hack: Break from your default work style (hunkered down on devices and living in your email) to literally just step outside.4 And don't wait until you finally have vacation to do so.
Do you want to wager with me? Can we dare each other to go outside more and unleash ourselves from digital notifications?
If you need accountability, leave a comment and I’ll hold you to it.
Go find a vista where you can throw your heart against the wind to let it soar; a quiet place of beauty, where your mind can get lost, not only in wonder, but go into the depths.
And do it during your work day. I dare you.
I'd love to hear what you discover when you do.
I was reminded of a poem I wrote after a profound experience in nature some years ago: Nature Speaks.
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Perhaps you have a rigid schedule, work in-person, have to track work day minute by minute, and/or work requires you to be inside for the whole shift. The time you’re spending on apps and devices in the off-hours is ripe for exploration.
Said in a Jim Gaffigan whisper.
Thanks, Captain Obvious! Again: if you’re not remote, venture away from your work space on a break. According to Canadian law, you’re guaranteed 30 minutes of break for every 5 hours of work. A few minutes outside can make a world of difference. Or, venture away from your devices during times you’re spending on them in the off-hours.
Photo by Aisvri, Unsplash