This year, I vacationed on the island of Sardinia, Italy, renting a rustic stone home, or stazzu, with friends. Since I never set up my international cellular plan and there was only a weak satellite connection, I had no Internet for a week. It was heaven. All we did was sleep, run, sit on the beach with books, amble the local markets and prepare a local feast each night.
I still feel a twinge of guilt, though, as millions of Americans do. I have to remind myself of the benefits of slowing down.
1. It absolutely improves your performance.
2. It improves your relationships. No-brainer there.
3. It lets you see what you really want.
When I finally got honest with myself a few years ago that I wanted a different life, one that was slower and more fulfilling than the business I was in at the time, I had no idea how to get there. So I started by creating space. First it was no work after yoga at night, then it was work free weekends. I was scared I would get fired, but I ended up being more refreshed and smarter at work.
But the biggest benefit was that it allowed me feel more joyful so that I had the energy to make changes, to see the bigger picture and stay focused on what was important and to approach massive, heart stopping changes like quitting my job or falling in love more calmly. Often the best insights came to me when I was folding laundry.
Today I work with smart, driven clients on setting their own boundaries to create what’s important to them. Here are some of my best tips:
1. Set a clear boundary with time and technology.
Try these, or create your own:
- Rent a vacation house with no Internet or unplug the router.
- Don't check work email on weekends. If that's not possible, then check and respond only during specific windows, such as 11am and 5pm.
- Remove time-sucking apps from your phone.
- Carve out technology free times every day, such as meals or commuting.
- Remove technology from the bedroom.
2. Commit to sleep.
The best hours to sleep for me are between 10am and 2 am. What would you need to do to get in bed by 10:30pm every night?
3. Make quality time your objective.
I used to have several projects planned for each vacation, causing my family to get mad for ignoring them and me to be frustrated that I wasn’t getting enough done. Instead, make people and being present your only objective.
4. Don’t multitask.
Fully engage in whatever you're doing, whether it's a conversation, work, sitting in the sun for five minutes a day or going for a walk. When you need to move on, excuse yourself.
5. Do it the slow way.
Slow-cook a meal (try my slow-cooked marinara), take the country route, amble around an outdoor market or pretend you're an Italian man from an older generation and go to a cafe with friends and sit there all day.
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