April 6, 2011

Lessons from the Country - Part 2

It's amazing to me that only a few weeks ago I was in a cabin in the country spending most of my time in a state of either relaxation or reflection. Now that I'm back in the city, responsibilities and appointments are back on the table, but how I'm managing and balancing things is very different now due to another lesson I learned from the country.

As I sat at the bar next to one of the local guys who was very kindly sharing bits and pieces from his life story, I would from time to time send a text or check email. He laughed a little and broke off from his story about playing baseball to jest, "Ya know, like back when people could talk without a machine involved..." I didn’t feel offended or chided. Rather I appreciated this jovial reminder that I was, after all, here partly to unplug. So, I tucked my phone away and enjoyed the rest of the evening chatting and learned a lot about the surrounding towns and the history of Clear Lake.

I also noticed as I strolled the small town streets that there were no near bodily collisions due to the text & walk action you see on city streets. People were strolling, taking in each other or their surroundings. They seemed to know and remember life without a harried pace that required constant effort, communication, and progress.

So, as I returned to the city I had it in mind to make a few changes as a result of these kind reminders. The first thing I wanted to do was break up with my phone. We had a long talk and I explained that, while I loved many things about it, I needed to have more time for myself and others. So, the phone has been banned from the car, the dinner table, when out walking, and any time when my attention should be on working or enjoying the company of others. To be sure, I might break this rule from time to time, but nowhere near as often.

Next, I carved out at least 30 minutes a day for time when there is no computer, no TV, no phone – a time of sanctuary in which to relax and reflect (so that maybe, when I go to the country again, it won’t be to recover but simply to enjoy the change of scenery). This is actually something that many time management coaches recommend. We’ve bought into the idea that every minute of the day should be filled with productivity, but research actually shows that we are more productive when we give ourselves regular breaks.

All in all, I’m trying to enjoy the country pace while still managing the demands of day to day life. When I start to feel rushed or overwhelmed, I just remember what my dad used to say, "Chickens may run faster with their heads cut off, but, honey, they have no heads!"

I encourage you to try one or two of these little tricks to help you slow down, unplug, or tune in to what's happening right in front of you!

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