is it time you unplugged?

There’s a lamp in my son’s room that has a mind of its own. We turn it off and it turns itself back on. We joke with each other that it’s the friendly ghost making this happen. But though it’s funny, after a while it’s annoying and a little disconcerting. So I unplugged it before he went to sleep tonight and tomorrow, it’s going out to the recycling bin. After all, I don’t want the thing to spontaneously light the house on fire.

But I did think about the lamp and it’s persistent behavior….. We are so incredibly “plugged in” all the time — and sometimes life can start to feel as relentless as a lamp that won’t turn off.

Demands in our lives come in two forms: external and internal.

It may feel as though most of the stresses in your life come from external sources. But if you take a closer look at what you’re really plugged into, you might discover that many of your biggest struggles are the result of conscious choices you’ve made.

And that means you can consciously choose to “unplug” from those stresses and change the way you experience your business and life for the better.

Here are three ways you can unplug yourself:

1.       Unplug from old habits that are keeping you busy but not productive — such as checking email and social media twenty times a day or answering the phone when you are in the middle of a project.

2.       Unplug from beliefs that have you striving to meet unrealistic expectations. Look at the ways you are setting yourself up for failure before you even get out of bed. Make a commitment to let go of the inner expectations that are not serving you. Ask yourself…… does it really matter?

You forgot Johnny’s lunch. You didn’t forget Johnny!

 It is the vibrant, joyful experience of life that we crave so deeply…. not perfection.

3.       Unplug from the 50,000+ items on your mental “to-do” list. Write down every item in the same place (a notebook or daytimer)  and assign a time and date that you are going to re-visit and either do it, delegate it, delay it or dump it. This will free up your brain to think more clearly about the things you need to do right now and become fully present in the moment.

If you have a deadline to meet for a project or simply need time to focus and catch up, here is one last simple yet extremely effective technique that will help you carve out some time to get things done:

Use an email autoresponder to “take your calls” — and gently inform people that you are not available for a designated amount of time. This could be a few hours, a day, or even a few days… however long you need to get past the crunch.

In the autoresponder you can tell your clients, associates, and family that they can leave a voice message on your phone if it’s urgent. This helps you set your boundaries for a specific time frame but ensures that you are still available for anything that’s really important.

I have used this method for three years and have only been called once during an “email blackout” like this — and that one call wasn’t urgent.

If you’re looking for ways to find more hours in your week, I encourage you to try this strategy out. It is an amazing feeling to turn your computer on and not be distracted by the thought that you need to check your email and Facebook every five minutes. (Just remember… for this strategy to work you have to keep your email program and social media programs closed!)

If you set a consistent day in the week to conduct an “email blackout” like this I guarantee you will see your productivity soar.