A third of UK adults admit to having taken a digital detox in the past 12 months. But how about adding radio and TV to the switch-off too. Beneficial? A good idea? Read on…
by Mike James
How do you get to work? I drive; I used to get the train; I’d love to just walk. Driving’s okay. You’re in your own little bubble. It can be frustrating, but it can be liberating.
I’ve done something different on my drive to work recently. Something I’ve never really tried before. Something that I can honestly say has had a significant impact.
I’ve switched off the radio.
Wow. Maybe you don’t think this is much. But to me, it’s quite a change. I used to listen to the Today programme on Radio 4 in the mornings and the news on the way home, constantly afraid I’d miss something important. News is part of my job, of course: I must be on top of everything that’s happening.
My commute is around 45 minutes. This is an ideal time to catch-up on the issues setting the day’s agenda. Because if I don’t keep on top of this, then Bad Things will happen, right?
But it turns out that they won’t. Quite the opposite in fact.
You see, since I switched off the radio two things have happened.
Firstly I’ve started to notice things. I’ve noticed spring morphing into summer. And it’s wonderful. I’ve noticed farmers doing things in fields. I’ve noticed trees changing. I’ve noticed gardens growing. I’ve noticed houses being built and roofs being fixed, albeit slowly. I’ve seen the sun rising and the sun setting. I’ve seen hot air balloons and trains and thought about the romance of slow travel. Okay, I’m rambling now…
Does it matter that I’ve noticed stuff? Possibly not. It probably makes no difference to anyone apart from me. But, you see, it’s made me a bit happier I think: to see the world at the world’s pace.
The second thing that’s changed is that during my 45 minutes of nothing-in-particular-ness I’ve solved a lot of problems. I’ve had some big things on at work: royal visits, international bike races, elections, re-structures, a new CEX, talking at comms2point0 events, for example. I’m busy. Aren’t we all? My head is full of issues to resolve, problems to solve, things to work out.
But by switching off for a dedicated time each day I’ve given my head the space to resolve and solve. And you know what – I’ve arrived at work with more clarity than I’ve ever had before.
Here’s the thing – we spend our days filling our heads with stuff. As comms people we’re busy. We’re bombarded with data and information and questions and decisions. All in quick time, too. That’s our job. That’s what makes us thrive. But we need to give ourselves time to reflect too. Time to think and consider. Because investing in that must surely help us do the busy stuff better? I can’t prove it; but it’s just a hunch.
And what better time to reflect than 45 minutes in the morning to watch the seasons come and go; and 45 minutes in the evening as the sun sets on another busy day…? No email, no social media, no bother.
But one final thought, if you do drive to work. When your mind is wandering, try not to let it wander too far from the job in hand – I can guarantee a car crash would ruin your sense of calm reflection and probably make you quite unproductive.
image via Florida Memory