The Magic of Checking Out

Last week, I spent four days at a ranch owned by one of my family members that sits on the eastern fringe of the Rocky Mountains. The place is down 30 miles of unpaved roads from the nearest town of about 1,800 souls. To call it remote would be both a compliment and an understatement.

The beauty of the experience, though, was that we were all totally incommunicado. I could get maybe half a bar of cell signal for about 10 seconds if I stood at precisely one spot—not enough to send a text message, let a lone make a call. The satellite internet connection worked not even sporadically.

It forced a complete disconnect from work, and it was a blessing. (Now, don't even ask me about returning to the pile of emails and problems back at the office.) For those four days, I was completely tuned out.

Freelancers, who can (and do) work everywhere, have a difficult time totally checking out like that. But I would encourage it. Disconnecting is essential to maintaining your enthusiasm and creative energy. Start by setting aside perhaps two hours every Monday morning or Friday afternoon; quit your email program and let the phone go to voicemail. Think. Doodle. Brainstorm. Whatever. You'll find that the world doesn't crash in just because you're out of touch. Get comfortable with that, then make it a half day or even full day each week. Before you know it, a work-free vacation won't seem out of the question.


One thought on “The Magic of Checking Out

  1. lidia varesco design

    I totally agree, Bryn! I just spent 4 glorious days in Denver without checking email and cell phone. Not by my own choice, but because the screen on my cell phone conked out (after I dropped it) and I couldn’t view text messages or missed calls.
    Needless to say, it was great to unplug from technology for 4 days, and it’s something I may not have willingly done had the Universe not stepped in. So if you have trouble taking a break from technology: try dropping your cell phone!