A little over a month ago, I began feeling like technology (which I love) had crept into every waking moment of my day. The fact that I’m a voracious news consumer and truly love social media in all forms contributed to the problem. I realized that my phone was glued to my hand from the time I woke up 'til the moment I fell asleep. However, being “connected" from sunup 'til wee hours of the morning was not translating to better or more work getting done. There has been a lot written about trying out a “technology detox.” But in the PR world, disconnecting from technology isn’t an option. I decided to set some ground rules on when and where to engage with technology and social media. I’ve made many little changes in the past month, but the most significant change — and one that has given me the feeling of getting my day back — is the decision to be totally disconnected from everything during my commute. No checking my smartphone. No music. No talk or sport radio. Total quiet for 15-20 minutes.
It felt completely unnatural during the first 2 weeks. A quick pause in the traffic on the West Seattle Bridge and my brain begged to read through just one or two BuzzFeed lists. While stopped at a red light, my fingers twitched, wanting to “Like” a bunch of posts on Facebook. Before I knew what I was doing, I’d find my hand reaching into my bag to locate my phone. And my arm would automatically seek the car stereo.
But I’ve grown comfortable with the quiet. Now I now see those few minutes of commuting as great ways to organize thoughts, think through a problem, or just mentally unplug (while keeping the eyes on the road). Here’s how I spend my quiet commute these days.
- Mental check-lists. Whether it’s for a client, the week’s meal planning or weekend errands, I work best when I have a defined set of tasks. - Reflect and refocus. On my drive home, I’ll often think through what I accomplished that day. And I’ll mentally note my top 3 priorities for the next day. - Relax. Be present. Yes, traffic in Seattle is rough. However, with majestic Mount Rainier on one side and beautiful Elliott Bay on the other, there aren’t many places in the world as beautiful as my traffic jam.
Do you have a special commute-time routine that helps you recharge or be more productive? Tweet your ideas to @amricard. I’m eager to take a look once I get home.