During the holidays, a senior executive I work with unplugged and loved the time it gave her to think, to enjoy breathing space, and “feel more sane.” At the end of the long first Monday back, her non-stop schedule with too much work and too many meetings left her wanting to do nothing but stretch out on the couch and watch Downtown Abbey. Yet she found herself in work mode, sitting up and tensely typing tweets instead. She had to make herself stop and enjoy the show.
Harper Reed, Chief Technology Officer for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, was used to receiving thousands of emails a day, but when the election was over, he chose to put distance between the campaign and what was coming next in his life by giving himself a week away from the Internet and 140-character tweets to read a 1,000 page history of the Stalingrad Campaign.
I like these examples of creating a healthier balance between time spent on- and offline because they represent conscious choices that are far removed from all the hype we’re hearing these days about “digital detox.”
My husband and I have a standing joke about traveling Amtrak. When we first started doing it, it seemed like there'd always be someone who would board, take a seat in front of or behind us, whip out a cell phone, make a call and say, “Hello, I’m on the train.”
And so now, whenever we settle into our seats, we look at each other and one of us will say, “We’re on the train!”
This Christmas our little joke took on new meaning. When we arrived in New Haven, our usual point of departure, the long-term parking lot in the station was full and so were all the others in the surrounding area. This had never happened before. It was beginning to look doubtful that we would be able to get on that train.
As the minutes ticked away, my husband drove around like a maniac, hopping from red light to red light, looking in vain for a lot that didn't have a sign that said FULL in front, while I kept saying we needed to pull over, get information and pause to consider our options.
On our third circuit of Union Station, he finally heard me. He pulled into the passenger drop-off area in front where just it so happened that Santa Claus was waiting to give us what we most needed for Christmas—a parking space.