Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour

Ep. #30. Reflections from holiday!

August 25, 2022 Jean Balfour Season 1 Episode 30
Making Sense of Work with Jean Balfour
Ep. #30. Reflections from holiday!
Show Notes Transcript

In this short episode Jean shares some reflections on the impact of our devices on our holidays.

Jean:

hi everyone. And welcome to making sense of work. I am starting work today after a 10 day holiday and as I'm starting to work, I feel like I haven't quite been on holiday. I haven't quite had the full break from work that I know is good for me. And I know I'm not alone. And so in this brief episode, I thought I would explore a bit about what's happened and pose some questions. I'm not sure I have the answers for these questions, but I think the time has come for me to find a way to resolve them or at least to partly answer them. So let me say a bit about what's happened. I used to go on holiday for two or sometimes three weeks at a time. And during those holidays, I would not speak to anyone except the people I was traveling with or visiting, or maybe people we met on holiday, no phone, no email, no social media, no WhatsApp, nothing so much has changed in the 14 years since I lasted that. I remember the last holiday I went on for two weeks when I didn't have any contact with the outside world. Now, of course like you, I have access to everything. And I find that I don't fully switch off. It's much harder to be in the moment. Much harder to be present with the experience of being away or of being with the loved ones or even enjoying the things that I'm seeing and doing, because I am. Quite devoted to my work. Some might say addicted. I used to use holidays as a space for free thinking for coming up with ideas, for reading things. I might not read during a work period. It was a time for my default mode network to play the part of my brain that needs that downtime end a time for my prefrontal. Cortic the thinking part of my brain to have a good rest. Now I notice that I'm on Instagram and there I follow lots of people to do with work. I occasionally take a sneaky look at my emails, just to check. I see WhatsApp messages and reply to these. And so on. Even if we didn't log into emails, we all do have WhatsApp and text. And so these are available on our phones it's about my choice. It's about how I'm using it and how I'm engaging with the media. So it's like the only way for me. And I suspect some of you as well to fully stop and to give ourselves a proper break is to go on some sort of. Retreat of a person, a retreat, for example, where we don't even have access to a pen and paper. But the reality is that for most of us, this just isn't possible. I even saw a podcast this week where the headline was five days off social media and the impact of it. And I initially thought only five days. And then I realized that I hadn't even made a single day on this holiday. So, as I said, I know I'm not alone. I've been talking to a lot of clients before I came on holiday about this. And I think there are a number of factors. That's not just our technology. The shadow of COVID has affected. Holidays of many people. I know many clients, many friends and family, either holidays have been affected or in some cases ruined by actually having COVID while they were traveling. Or there was some felt, need to make up for lost time where family and friends. And so time was spent going from place to place to make up for this time. And so many people I've spoken to are feeling like they didn't actually get the rest that they were need. And if I'm honest as I'm recording this, I'm actually still away which makes it feel even more exposing. I always knew I would be working today. I've got a workshop that I am running and I'm looking forward to doing that, but I find myself really disappointed that I haven't been more strict with myself, more detached and I feel disappointed in myself for the constant reaching out for my phone. I use excuses such as I run a business. I need to be responsive, but this is an excuse. I put good things in place before I came away to ensure I didn't need to log in. It was all down to me. So whatever's happening and those of you for this is resonating. I know I'm not alone in coming back into the final third of this year. Not feeling as fully rested as I might have liked. Earlier this year, I read Johan Harry's book, stolen focus. This is a brilliant book. It's slightly depressing because entity talks about the power of our devices and the tools that they hold within them. Instagram, for example, and how these are designed to hold us, to capture us, to keep us enthralled. And, and really that they're a little bit like a drug. He talks about how the only way he could fully pull away was to give all his devices to a friend and to retreat with a flip top phone for three months, which he could only make voice calls and text. I, I leave you to read his book. It is very, very good book to read and his findings are in there, but let's just say that when he returned to normal life, he very quickly found himself, pulled back to media, to the devices. And now he's put strategies in place, such as locking his phone away at a time. Restricted, safe. The book actually gives me some reason to forgive myself. The, the power of tech is so strong. It's so powerful. However, I'm an adult. Surely I can find a way for this to be different, to have a different experience. So how can I do this? How can we do this? I don't have any simple answers, and this is a short podcast today, but I am thinking about how I can learn to value my time more without my devices, to be more in the present. As I've been thinking about it. I thought maybe it's about starting with what I know. I value where my values are, how I value my time. And I know that I value time that's thinking or what I might call being time, time to create time to think about clients I'm working with either in our programs or as a coach. And to spend that time thinking. What's possible or just pondering, but I think that I've come to a place where I have actually devalued some of that and I actually feel quite sad about it. So I'm coming away with a renewed sense of. Finding ways to create a life where I do step away from my devices time, where maybe I focus more on what I value, what I know is important in my life and reinstating more of this. And I actually feel quite determined. I think recording this while I'm away actually increases determination. And so I'm thinking that maybe the starting point is to find one day at weekends, without devices, except my Kindle, which really doesn't go online. And for me, this actually means also giving up on my beloved games that I play on my devices. And I'm curious about whether I can do this. I know I have put some things in place, so I have no phones in the bedroom, no devices after nine. But I do think that I need to take a next step and try and do something a bit more impactful. I. This is important because in our lives, there is so much difficulty going on around us. We're bombarded with stories of challenge about the climate, about war, about increasing prices and this. Information is coming to us from our devices. And so I think that this makes it even more important that I have time, that we have time where we step away from that, where we look at what's going on in the current moment, in the reality, because actually I could choose to put these down and focus on the people I'm with or the environment I'm in or celebrate all that is good. And it's not about forgetting what's happen. Outside, but it is about coming into the moment and being aware of it. So I'm now thinking that this is a time for me to really think about my values and to focus on this. I do hold strong values about the quality of my work and the quality of life and how I am with people, how I am and my interactions. And so it may be for me that learning to reinstate those values, to bring them more front and center. And then to notice when I pulled away from them to notice when I'm pulled towards emails or Instagram and instead think what is it that I value? I value reading in depth, or I value a quiet walk or I value a one-on-one conversation with a friend or a family member, or I wanna spend the time creating or maybe writing, but actually taking the time to remember these things that I value and not letting them be stolen by my inability to put down my. So I'm going to try writing these down, writing down these things that I value these things that are important to me and putting them somewhere where I can see them, not on a device. And so that when I feel myself pulled away, I remind myself to be pulled back in the direction of what I value. I really feel that this is a bit of a wake up call for me. I know I work better. I know. I think more clearly I'm a better colleague, a partner, a friend when I'm rested. And I think I've been letting the ease of modern life interrupt this. And it is down to me to do this. It's down to me to press pauses, to find a better way to remain connected and yet disconnected, to find a better way to sink into those things that I value that help me to bring value to my work and other things can wait. And so I'm gonna give it a go. I will keep you posted on how it goes. And I guess I'd encourage you too, to be thinking about how are our devices, how is technology impacting our lives and how is it stopping us from doing the things that are good for us? And I look forwards to carrying on this conversation.