Why Downtime Leads to More Time

So it’s been over a week since I put anything up here, yet I’ve been putting many things up all over the Internet. That means that while I’ve been away from here, I’ve been present in plenty of other places. Since I laid the groundwork to have things appear elsewhere online over the past week and a bit, I put myself in a position to essentially “disconnect” from any heavy lifting in the online world. And man, did I ever get things done.

I began to prepare for my departure from Lifehack. I finished up some key projects. I spent time with my family and planning the immediate future with my wife. I had fun. I thought a lot. I got out of my head. I got things done that needed doing.

By stepping away, I also stepped back. I gave myself some much-needed perspective and escaped the noise for long enough to create a whole lot in the time and space of the silence I was experiencing. I disconnected from the online world and better connected with my own manifesto and my own to-do list. I pushed aside a lot and forged ahead in others.

Here’s how I set myself up for this downtime:

  • I wrote several guest posts and took part in several interviews ahead of time. I also wrote three posts just in case none of these were picked up during the time I had hoped they would. I asked to be informed when any of these posts would go live so I could schedule things accordingly. I also got lucky in that a couple of my pieces here got picked up by Lifehacker, which helped bring people here to read some of my existing work. So while luck played a role, I nonetheless set myself up in advance so that I could step back.
  • I turned off all non-essential notifications. Some things got through, but only during certain hours. I created a very small window using the Do Not Disturb feature on my iPhone so that I controlled the elements. And I used AwayFind far more than ever before to make sure that only emails that needed to reach me immediately did just that.
  • I didn’t distance myself from online consumption. This one was tricky. Sicne I live on the west coast, I consumed online content in the morning during my daily coffee, and then did so again later that evening while my wife watched television and the kids were in bed. Everything in between was about nurturing and creating. By doing this, I didn’t really go away – I just spent some time away. Big difference there.
  • I used paper to start my day and ended my day checking off everything on my digital task management app. I used EISENHOWER to get things going with this sabbatical, and the folks behind the pp kindly provided me with a paper version of the app’s system as well. That paper version allowed me to start my day off on paper, keep tabs on it with paper, and then go in as the dya came to an end and tie up all of my digital loose ends in my task manager and so on. I continued my 30/30 ritual alongside the use of EISENHOWER, and then used Asana and OmniFocus (where applicable) to wrap things up and keep connected to the things that I needed to – the things that were most important. Urgency never really was a problem with this strategy, and neither was running into an issue with falling short with the important things on my agenda. I assembled a means of keeping flow through an uninterrupted approach. And it worked.

My biggest asset (after preparation) was willpower. I stuck to this process during the last week and now that I’ve got a template for success I can revisit it whenever I need.

Disconnecting is important….very important. In fact, you need to take the time to disconnect so that you can truly connect when it matters the most.