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Are you off, or "off off"?

You’re exhausted. Some of you have literally taken only a few days’ holiday in the entire year (or since March anyway). 

It’s time for a rest - a real one. An honest to goodness, don’t check emails or Slack or messages or even social media or your phone, rest. 

It’s the difference between being “off”...

...and being “off off”. 

Really and truly off. Not working. Not even thinking about work. Not connecting to work things. Not even casually checking emails to “make sure this one client is okay”. Being really and truly off so your mind and body and soul get a proper rest. 

I’m taking a few weeks off - after Christmas Eve I’m not coming back to work things until the 12th of January - and this is going to be “off off” time. There’s a difference, and I always feel it. 

Mondays, for example, are my “quiet days”. I don’t arrange meetings for Mondays, and the team know if anything needs my review, the deadline needs to be Friday or Tuesday, so there’s no time pressure on Mondays. 

I still check email and slack though, and message the team, and sometimes write blog posts or sketch out ideas or review things. 

So I’m ‘sort of off’ on a Monday, but I’m still working. Work is on my mind and if there’s something needing sorted, I’ll sort it. 

Not the same as being intentionally “off off”. 

Christmas is a good time for it, because almost everyone we know is doing the same. 

But really the major difference is in your own mind.

It’s the intention with which you take the time.

When you’re “off off”, you: 

  • Put an out of office on your email(s), and give specific dates, and say you will not see the email. (You don’t even add a “but if it’s urgent” message, because anyone who knows you well enough to have something truly urgent will be able to contact you in some other way than email.)
  • Tell people in advance you won’t be working. You plan for it. You won’t be around so things need done before you finish (or they’ll just wait until you get back). If need be, you arrange for someone else to manage emails or messages or whatever needs managed. 
  • Choose not to open email apps or other work apps. (Sometimes I’ve even deleted the app from my phone.)
  • If you use notifications on your phone, you TURN THEM ALL OFF. (I can’t recommend this more highly: i actually chose years ago to never have any notifications on my phone, ever. If it’s critical, someone will call, and it will buzz on my watch. Anything other than that can wait until I’m ready, not distract me out of the blue.) 
  • Plan other things you actually DO want to do. Like buy books and set them aside to read, or mark podcasts to listen to, or save recipes for cooking, or get special treats to eat. 

When you say “well, i’m off, but i’ll just check now and then”, your mind literally never gets a moment’s peace. You’ll be sitting watching a film with the kids and suddenly wonder about how that one client got on, and ten minutes later the laptop is out. 
“Off off” is intentional. It’s planned. It’s prepared for. 
And it does you good. 
I also strongly recommend 10 days to two weeks if you can possibly manage it, because as we all know the first week of being “off off” you sort of zone out, sleep a lot, watch films and shows, maybe go for a walk, sleep some more, read a fictional novel or something easy, sleep, play with the kids, fall asleep on the sofa….
...and it’s not until the second week your mind starts to come alive and remember there’s more to life than emails and endless to do lists. 
Hope you’ll be able to choose being “off off” this Christmas. You certainly need it.

(These Notes are emailed out every Saturday. If you’d like to be on the list, sign up here.)



 

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