Last week I took off on an "unplugged vacation", which started with a night at the High Hampton Inn in the Nantahala National Forest, and ended with 4 nights of camping by the Tallulah River in the Chattahooche National Forest.
My children were both out of town, but I went with Dwaine and a group of friends (his family) and also took my great dane, Slim. We had a fabulous time! From tubing the river and 4-wheeling in the mud, to just hanging out around a campfire and sharing stories and laughs...
There was very little signal once we got out of town, even most of the drive there which followed the Ocoee River. And that suited me just fine. I was ready to "unplug" for awhile.
Most of the time when I travel, even on personal trips, I stay connected and check in - and share photos & updates along the way.
This trip was different, not only due to the lack of signal or service - but because I went with the intention of being unplugged.
Being unplugged is as much a choice, or a mindset, as anything...
For me it was about taking a mental break. A break from ideas, from checking in, from being "in the stream". Instead I played in real streams for the week.
I took my Macbook along in case I wanted to sit and do some writing in the peaceful setting of the deep woods, but I never even cracked it open. I took my iPad along too, because it had a great new book on it that I thought I might read. I never so much as powered it on.
I also took my smart phone (Droid X) which is what I used to snap pictures along the way.
I checked in occasionally, if we rode into town or otherwise got random 3G service, but even then it was only a quick look to see that everything was running smooth. And it was.
Still, it was nothing like the usual routine of being "plugged in to the grid" every waking hour.
Not that I mind that, because I don't. I love technology and everything it has added to my life! But taking a break, a mental break more than anything, was absolutely fabulous.
I returned late Thursday night feeling tired but refreshed, incredibly inspired, and looking forward to my work & usual routine.
I was especially anxious to get home and work on my new niche blog.
Particularly because the trip was relevant to that niche (traveling & eating low carb).
There were three things that really stood out to me while "unplugged" - and one negative, even.
3 Things I Learned While Unplugged
1. My assistant is awesome. (I already knew that) Angie and I usually work closely, and I keep myself available to her even while traveling. On this particular trip though, I was off the grid for the most part. It gave me a deep appreciation of just how invaluable she is, and what an asset she is to my business.
If there's one thing you should invest in, it's an assistant. Even if you have (or plan to have) an entire team, you need ONE person that you can communicate with directly. Someone you can trust. Someone that knows your business inside and out. Someone that shares your values. And someone that can manage your team for you.
2. Passive Income rocks! No matter where I am or what I'm doing, I'm always earning more money than I'm spending. While I'm sleeping, while I'm kicked back reading a book on a 14 hour flight from L.A. to Australia, or while I'm sitting by the river for four straight days with no internet access. And that is a NICE feeling.
No matter what your business model, look for ways to set up Passive Income sources. I did this in my service-based business many years ago, and continue to incorporate it into everything that I do.
3. Evernote is my all-time favorite app. Period. It is one of the few that syncs cross-platform. I can put photos, ebooks, lists, notes, etc into Evernote - and it does way more than I will ever even use.
While I was "unplugged" I had an opportunity to totally relax & unwind. This allowed for creative ideas and inspiration, which I of course wanted to jot down to remember later when I was back to work. I opened Evernote on my smart phone, jotted down a note, and closed it back.
When I got back to my home office all of my Evernote notes were right here on both my Mac and my PC. No transferring of files. I wasn't stuck working on a specific device. It was right where I wanted it (everywhere!) so I could sit down anywhere and just go straight to work. Perfect!
The Downside To Taking An Unplugged Vacation
Alright, so there was one itty bitty downside to this fabulous vacation and mental break. LOL. I found it hard to get back into my routine once I "plugged back in".
It's amazing how much we are tuned in to on a regular basis. How much content we consume, even if it's just scanning streams & bits.
Personally I have multiple screens tuned in to various channels, along with my smart phone which is with me 24/7.
And I enjoy that! But stepping away from it for several days straight can make it awkward to step back in. In fact it took me a couple of days to wrap my head around processing the incoming data again, without flinching at least - lol.
All is fine & well now of course, and I'm happily catching up with tasks & conversations and excited about the week ahead. I'm also already planning to take another week of unplugged vacation next summer - and perhaps every summer. It was a great way to reset the brain!