I can't help but chuckle at the irony of writing a post about disconnecting from work while sitting in front of my laptop and secondary monitor. To be fair though, the ideas for the pieces I write never find me while I'm sitting like this. They tend to find me when I am far away from my digital transcribing devices (okay well to be fair my phone is almost always with me), and often begin by being jotted down on a wayward post-it note or in one of my work notebooks alongside endless To Do Lists. I moved recently. Into a new house that has allowed me to create my dream home office which also serves as my art studio & home gym. Many people don't know this about me, but prior to working in the accounting universe, and even before my stint in medical research, I went to a private arts academy, and had envisioned going to school for design. Even though that vision for the future has yet to manifest itself into my present reality, I still sketch regularly, and find art making and creating to be a hugely important outlet for my life.
My other favorite outlet is, of course, the gym. Or rather, physical fitness. Being physical and athletic has always been part of my life. I started playing soccer when I was 5, and continued to play at an elite level until I was 12. During middle school, I reconnected with my early childhood love of dance, and spent the next 6 years dancing 5-6 days a week first at the studio down the street from our house, and then at University of Washington. When persistent knee and hip injuries made it difficult for me to continue dancing, I began going to the college's gym to avoid going absolutely stir crazy. I will never forget the day I stumbled by accident upon the basement weight room. I fell immediately in love with the physical challenge that comes with weight lifting, and the rest they say is history.
Although my personal path has always included elements of art and fitness, the road hasn't always been consistent or straight forward. Many times an injury, work, and quite frankly, life, has gotten in the way of me spending time doing these things I love so much. However, in recent months I have come to find, that I am my most fulfilled and successful self when I make space and time in my life for art & fitness to be equally prioritized with the rest of my life and responsibilities. After all, we are not singular beings, all of us are multi-faceted. I have come to find, that when I am sketching and painting regularly, I have a newfound creative angle that makes its way into my work life. When I make time to workout regularly, be it at home or at the gym, I in turn have more energy throughout my busy days as a mom and employee.
I think that it is of the utmost importance that we all find ways to unplug and disconnect from the things that take up the bulk of our energy at least once a day. This can be a huge challenge for people who work from home, particularly in tech, where work is never done, and is always a mouse click away. That is why I intentionally created my new office to be for more than just work. I also make art in here, do yoga in the mornings, workout when I can't get to the gym, write...it's a multi-faceted space. The thing I love about it is that I am intentionally trying to practice being able to unplug from work, even in the very space that I sit down to work every single day.
It's important to create space like that in your life. Sometimes it can be about boundaries, and timing. For example, I often workout when my work day is done in the hopes that putting a stopping point (as well as a bit of a reward, if you are a gym junkie like me) between work time and gym time will motivate me to wrap up my work, and also put a distinct transition at the end of my work day. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But I do have many days where going to the gym after work has been tremendously helpful in letting me go of a hectic workday, and allows me to be more present as a mom come the evening.
I have many ways I love to unwind and unplug. Hiking, weight lifting, yoga, painting, running, going for a long drive, writing....they all help me let go in a way that allows me to come back to my work with a greater sense of focus and direction. The key for my own success is to keep finding ways to disconnect, even when time is limited, and my workload is intense. If there is one thing I have found to be true, it is that this time is just as important to creating a successful and holistically fulfilling life as actually sitting down and doing the work.
What about you? How do you disconnect? Unwind? How do you prioritize your days for success?