As you might remember, in 2018, my word for the year was SLOW and one way I committed to walk this word out was by taking Wednesdays off and declaring them a Slow Day.
(You can see a peek into some of my Slow Days from 2018 here.)
By the way, when I say that I was taking Wednesdays off, that meant that I was committing to be totally offline. Not only was my goal to not work or get on the computer, but I also tried to be completely off of email and social media on my phone.
In fact, I deleted e-mail and social media apps off my phone every Tuesday night before bed so that I wouldn’t be tempted to get on social media at all the next day. I found taking the apps off to be so helpful to keep me from being tempted to jump on social media or answer a quick e-mail.
I’m excited to report that I did, indeed, follow through with this commitment!
No, I didn’t do it perfectly. I admit there were weeks when I had to work at least a few hours or when I didn’t end up being completely offline the entire day.
But for the most part, I was mostly offline all day every Wednesday in 2018. And it was such a worthwhile exercise that taught me so much.
In fact, I learned some surprising lessons that I didn’t expect:
1. It’s good to be completely offline.
Being completely off social media and e-mail for a window of time is a really healthy thing. It clears my brain. It helps me to focus fully on other people and projects. It encourages me to slow down and savor life.
While I love social media (see point #2), I also realize that it can be a time-sucker and can distract me from staying focused. It can keep me from having breathing room in my life if I’m filling up quiet that my soul needs with picking up my phone and mindlessly checking social media.
I found that the stillness of being offline on Wednesdays gave me space to think, to have a sort of reset, and to be more available to invest in other non-techie/non-work-related pursuits.
In addition, I found that it was empowering to know that I can live without my phone just fine… as in, I’m not addicted to it and can enjoy time away from it.
Note: I’m currently reading Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World and it’s causing me to really think about the importance of having quiet spaces in my life where I’m free of the distraction that social media and much technology can sometimes be. I’ve been mulling on this and the best way to intentionally have spaces in my life to invest in Deep Work, as the book encourages.
2. I really love connecting with you all.
On the flip side, I truly missed getting to connect with you all online on Wednesdays in 2018. I didn’t realize how much I enjoy sharing through writing and live video and how deeply life-giving and cathartic it is for me until I was offline on Wednesdays. I mean, I knew I loved it, but I didn’t really grasp how much I enjoy it until I was offline from it.
It honestly made me so happy to realize this. That might seem weird to you, but sometimes, we don’t realize how much we love certain parts of our life until they are taken away.
One of the things I do on Facebook Live and Instagram Stories is share hot deals and freebies — many that are really time sensitive. I love getting to pass these onto you all and I know that oftentimes, people won’t take notice of a deal or freebie unless I do a video on it. So there were many hot deals on Wednesdays that were 24 hours only that I didn’t get to share and I wished I could have to help save you money.
3. Taking an entire day off from the business was stressful for me.
One thing I hadn’t really thought of when I initially committed to being offline on Wednesdays was how hard it would be to prep for and recover from an offline day.
Maybe if I were in a different line of work, it wouldn’t be like this, but due to the nature of what we do here (especially when it comes to sharing hot deals and freebies), there are many time sensitive things I am involved in on a daily basis: companies that want to run promotions with us ASAP, hot deals I want to do videos or posts about, e-mails I want to send out to my list about time-sensitive deals and freebies, social media posts to put up about these time sensitive deals, etc.
To prep to be offline for an entire day in the middle of the week, there was a lot I’d have to do the day before to make sure I was set up and able to take an entire day off. I’d have to make sure my inbox was all cleaned out, everything time sensitive was taken care of, and that my team had everything they needed in order for me to be offline.
And then when I got back online on Thursdays, there would always be so much to do and I’d end up having to work an extra long day on Thursdays to make up for being off on Wednesdays.
Working more hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays and feeling stressed about needing to get everything done just to be offline on Wednesday every week felt like it sort of defeated much of the purpose of being offline.
4. Taking an entire day offline caused stress and extra work for my team.
My small team is the BEST and they never, ever complained about my decision to take Wednesdays off. However, I know that it ended up causing extra stress and work for them.
Many times, things came up on Wednesdays where my team would have to figure out things on their own, or they’d have to handle a sticky situation, or they’d have to put in extra work hours since I was offline. They also weren’t able to move the ball forward on many other projects because they would have to wait until I was back online and could get back to them about something they needed my input and help with.
Plus, our business took a financial hit because we had to say no to a number of promotions and opportunities because I wasn’t available on Wednesdays. And, like I said earlier, I wasn’t able to tell you about time sensitive deals on Wednesdays via social media so I felt like I wasn’t serving my audience well because of this.
Why I Didn’t Quit Mid-Year
Now, you may have read all of that and wondered why on earth I didn’t just quit my commitment mid-year and decide to ditch the idea. Honestly, I did consider it. However, I’ve been working hard on following through with what I’ve committed to do and I felt like it would also be good to stick with it for long enough that I made sure I wasn’t just quitting when the going got a little tough.
In addition, I felt like it was a valuable exercise and I learned so much from it. Plus, I did enjoy many pockets of rest being offline on Wednesdays and I’m so glad I stuck with this commitment even though it didn’t pan out like I envisioned it would!
I loved that I proved that I’m not tethered to my phone, I loved the stillness and quiet I experienced from being offline, and I loved recognizing just how life-giving it is for me to connect with you all.
My Biggest Takeaways & What I’m Changing in 2019
Starting in 2019, I’ve decided not to take Wednesdays off anymore. Instead, I’m going to commit to having mini-Sabbaths on an almost-daily basis.
Here is how I’m planning to practically walk this out:
- I’m committing to having 4 hours of offline time 5 days per week.
- I’m keeping my phone in the basement at night.
Notice that I didn’t commit to having 4 hours of offline time every single day. As a self-employed online entrepreneur, I know that that is just not realistic. BUT, I do believe that I can commit to being completely offline for 4 hours per day 5 days of the week.
I also bought a real alarm clock (I got this one) and am using that instead of my phone at night. This way, there’s not the temptation to check my phone last thing before I go to bed and first thing when I get up. I’ve been experimenting with this and it’s been making a big difference for me!
(By the way, I made a checklist chart with these habits I want to develop + a few others in order to serve as a reminder and to give me a place to track my progress on these. I think this is really going to be a great accountability for me! I also made one for business habits I’m wanting to focus on/develop during my work hours.)
So there you have it! If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them!