Credit for the new header image: “Cambodian Sanskrit in the temples of Angkor” by iStock member Yangshuo.
Michelle Rafter has a great post this morning called Time Out, on the merits of unplugging from your computer. In the post, Michelle references another blog post from a writer who takes a “technology sabbath” from Friday evening to Saturday evening, during which time he doesn’t use his computer or cell phone for work-related purposes. Michelle writes that she likes to get out of the office and go for a hike to decompress.
I will say that I agree wholeheartedly with this advice. There are times when being immediately available has its bonuses; if a client needs to call at a specific time with an update or question, it’s nice to be able to take the cell phone to the park, answer the call and then continue with the hike. But I do feel that more often, being “always on” is more a result of our own fantasies of indispensability than anything else, and that the vast majority of the time, we actually can afford to unplug for a few hours and get out from in front of the screen. In my own case, I take at least one computer-free vacation a year (and by vacation I mean ten days to two weeks, not a long weekend) and make sure to get outside and away from the computer for part of every day. Lately, my family has been experimenting with growing a lot of our own food, and I’ve found that there’s nothing like an hour of pulling weeds to really clear the brain!
Interestingly enough, many freelancers don’t seem to feel this way. Last year I was talking to another translator at the American Translators Association conference in San Francisco and the subject of vacations came up. When I told the other person that my family would be taking a two-week “beach and wildlife” trip to Baja over Christmas and punctuated it with “Two weeks without phone or e-mail, can’t wait!,” this person paused for a moment and then said “I didn’t know people still did that.” Granted, this vacation was during a time of year when many people take time off and business often slows to a crawl, but I have to say that my business didn’t suffer any ill effects, I really didn’t check e-mail or phone messages for two weeks, and best of all I was excited to get back to work at the end of the trip.
Unplugging: try it, you’ll like it!