No Gadgets Day

No Gadgets Day: A Lesson on Living in the Present

Oh, the horror. I woke up this morning and instantly reached over to check the time on my iPhone , only to find the phone missing. Instead, it had replaced by an *actual* alarm clock of the retro, non-digital variety, and this hand-written note:

No Gadgets Day

No Gadgets Day

So the almost-12-year-old had decided that she’d seen enough of her mother wielding phones and laptops of late and had indeed declared a No Gadgets Day.

Hmmm. It’s easier said than actually done, however. Around 98% of my work is online, with nearly all of it requiring an internet connection. That’s a massive chunk of anxiety right there, when not only had all of my bloody devices been confiscated and hidden, but said child had also disconnected the internet too.

I know, I know, Sundays should be sacred and family time and all that jazz, but honestly, my work does not fit into neat little boxes of nine-five hours, Monday to Friday. My working hours are bespoke and varied.

Angst

But OK, let’s go with the No Gadget Day. Deep breaths.

Running mentally over scheduled posts, emails to send/reply to and strategies to complete, panic set in a little. The gadget-confiscating child was being terribly strict and had even got The Dad on-side. I was allowed five minutes’ access to emails only at 13.00hrs and then nothing until the end of the day. At this point, I was feeling a little nauseous.

I’m not a TV person really. I can’t remember the last programme I watched. I occasionally like catch-up documentaries or the like, and I love DVDs and Netflix sessions. I enjoy a silent house too: I don’t always appreciate music on in the background – noise grates on my nerves, especially when I’m writing. But I always have a device of some sort close by.

The house was so peaceful today. No children watching their tablets or iPads, no husband watching morning politics shows, which are guaranteed to make your blood pressure rise. And no phone or Mac to access.

My fingers were instantly itching for things to do. I’m so used to tapping away on my Mac, or whizzing through clients’ social media accounts “just to check”. I rarely use a physical pen and paper these days. It felt really liberating to scribble away on a jotter pad for a while, and I felt the ideas flow better than having a constant distraction of emails and the unending intensity of social media. I had several brainwaves today – I haven’t felt freely inspired like this for a long time. The constant juggling of clients and campaigns can leave me feeling jaded, but having that space away from time-sucking devices was really rejuvenating.

And Breathe

So after a few hours, I finally relaxed. I managed to get a whole load of jobs completed that I’ve been putting off for ages. The children took the opportunity of being gadget-less to play in the garden, while The Dad enjoyed a rare hour of resting in a comfy chair, accompanied by a Sudoku book and coffee. We also enjoyed a walk in the woods, mobile phone-free, and the children followed a quiz trail as we wandered together.

Modern day life has become so reliant and absorbed in technology. It’s not necessarily a bad thing however, but it does need to be monitored before an imbalance arises. I’ve previously written on time management, and I’m regularly checking myself to ensure I maximise my work hours and minimise potential distractions.

It’s all too easy to get ensconced in a virtual, online world where time gets sapped away and real, tangible life passes you by quickly.

I think we’ll be having regular No Gadget Days in the future. Hopefully, I’ll get a warning before the next one though, so I can prepare for my workload in advance!

 

 

Time management

Have You Got Time? Five Tips For The Freelancer

It’s a daily battle. Time management, that is. I honestly feel like a professional juggler some days, where I have a task spinning in one hand whilst weaving wordy magic with the other.

It all depends on how and where you work too. For the most, I work from a beautiful creaky antique writing bureau, nestled in the corner of a room overlooking our garden. It’s fairly quiet, aside from the odd offspring meandering through to the kitchen on the hunt for biscuits or toast. Or a bouncing Springer Spaniel, demanding cuddles and/or food.

The Husband has his own garden office in a converted garage, where I used to work from. The co-sharing of a small space became claustrophobic after a while and I hastily retreated back to the house. He is currently busy designing me a She Shed so I can be totally immersed in my own space while I work.

So how do you maintain the work-life balance and maximise the use of your time if you’re a freelancer or work from home?

Time Management

Here’s my five top tips on how to stay on top of the day-to-day grind:

1. Clear Your Space

If your desk looks like a discombobulated shambles, it’s time to clear out. Keep only the essentials you really need and ditch the clutter. It will make an enormous difference to your productivity and therefore your time management. In one study, scientists at Princeton University discovered that clutter within a workspace had a negative affect on the brain’s ability to process, resulting in an increase in stress and disorganisation of thought.

 

Time management

2. Schedule

Daily scheduling of my own time is really important to me. I plan a full week ahead with my diary. I also review daily for the following day, to prepare for any meetings, deadlines and client contact. Writing tasks down in a schedule commits them to paper, and they are more likely to be completed. Life coach Robin Sharma often says: “The things that get scheduled, are the things that get done.” I agree! Get it scheduled and get it done.

3. Listmania

Do you like lists? I love them. I need lists in my life to keep me ordered. I even have lists to remind me where my other lists are (I really don’t, but you can sense my need of listing-to-live!).

To-do lists are an incredibly mighty tool. They’re not merely a simple scribbling on some paper. No, to-lists are a power-packed method of emptying your head onto paper, of all the tasks you need to do. Like Feng Shui for your bonce. Thus freeing up brain gigabytes for more taxing chores. Keep on top of your list though, and actually complete the tasks, rather than just adding to the bottom of list. Make your to-dos, ta-das.

Time management

4. Social Media

As someone who spends a massive amount of time on social media for clients, I know only too well how time-sapping it can be. It can be tricky to use it for business purposes, without quickly getting drawn into posts and friends’ trials and tribulations of life. But try! If you use social media for yourself or clients, use your time wisely and stick to your planned posting and activity, or you’ll risk being sucked smack-bang into the middle of an ‘OMG! U OK hon?!’ style post.

5. Take Breaks

Move away from the screen, people! If you’re sat in front of a computer for your job, you need regular screen breaks or your eyes may peel off. Obviously they really won’t, but staring at a screen for any length of time is not good practice. Find out when your concentration levels start to wain and then move. Pop to the loo, do some yoga stretches, make a cup of tea..anything to break the brain-drain of protracted computer work.

And here endeth my tips for today.

Get in touch – I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at claire@write-type.com

 Photography by Uroš Jovičić

 

The Write Type

Claire is a writer, editor and proofreader, specialising in social media marketing, management and consultancy. She has over 15 years’ experience in professional writing, with a wide client portfolio. Claire’s passion is the written word, and helping you to communicate your company’s message and story in the most effective and powerful way.