How To Take Some Proper Time Off

Because I think we all need a break…

O.K firstly I have two admissions. As someone who prides themselves on organisation and planning I will admit that I only started my Christmas shopping yesterday, leaving me just 11 days of solid praying that everything I’ve ordered online will arrive in time. THANK YOU EXPRESS DELIVERY OPTIONS. And secondly we have yet to put up our Christmas tree. I know, I know. I am a terrible person. This weekend guys, I promise it’s going up.

Maybe we’ve been a little late on the Christmas bandwagon this year because we were away for it last year? Maybe I’m out of practice? Mark had some exams to revise for which doesn’t feel exactly festive, so we’ve been waiting for those to be out of the way before we put up the tree, and fellow self employed peeps know that the weeks in the run up to taking time off are like running in a hamster wheel and not really going anywhere and feeling completely snowed under. However, the yuletide break is just too much of a good one to ignore and I’d really like to properly switch-off again this year. I mean we won’t be on the other side of the world with a dodgy internet connection and a phone that’s on 3% battery, but even if it’s just not turning on my phone for a couple of days.

This post goes out to you guys who struggle to step away from the workload and is as much of a reminder to myself as it is to you to take some proper time out. It’s time to relax…

Delete your apps. Whenever my manager goes away on holiday she deletes her WhatsApp and it’s absolutely bloody genius. Given that it’s our main method of communication it completely chops her out of the loop and not only stops us hassling her, but also the urge that she gets just to have a *little* look. Most industries go quiet over Christmas, but if you feel like your phone might still be pinging off with incoming emails that you don’t need to look at – delete the app! It stops you looking because it’s not even there and allows you to forget it. I’m tempted to do the same with Instagram for a couple of days. Not because I find the notifications stressful, but because it will stop me using it as my main form of distraction and might free up a bit of brain space to do something different, instead of wasting hours aimlessly scrolling. Whatever your main app vice is – maybe it’s worth temporarily removing it till the new year.

Set yourself a challenge. For the goal-oriented among us, maybe it’s worth setting yourself a challenge over the holidays that will force you to focus on something else. Maybe you set yourself the goal of reading two books, or finishing a puzzle, or getting really fricking good at origami (I did a lot of origami with my sister when she broke her ankle and I can vouch that it’s pretty addictive). Or you could try and get your screen time on your phone to under an hour a day (the new iOS update shows this on your home page for iPhone uses – just swipe to the left to find it), or maybe you want to watch the whole series of Parks and Recreation from beginning to end (I HIGHLY recommend this). Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that you want to do that will ultimately chill you out. You know what they say – rest, relaxation and focus, right?

Do a digital detox. I feel like the Christmas holidays lend themselves to picking up our phones less anyway. I know that when I’m around friends and family, we all tend to reach for our phones less frequently than we would if we were on our own, but I plan on taking a couple of days as a complete digital detox. You know those days between Christmas and New Year? Those are perfect. Check out this post to see what I discovered the first time I took one and my tips if you’d like to get in on the action, but it’s basically the idea of locking your phone away, switched off, for a certain amount of time – whether it be six hours, or two days. It really feels great and is something that I’d like to do way more often in the new year.

Set yourself some boundaries. If you do need to work over the festive period, then it’s worth sticking with a routine that allows for fun as well as digging through your inbox. Given the ‘An Edited Life‘ book tour is taking me away from my desk for the most part of January next year, December is all about me getting ahead so it’s unlikely that I’ll be fully removed from my laptop over the Christmas break. Instead I’m just going to set myself some boundaries. One – no missing fun family things or catching up with friends because of work. Two – trying to get up earlier in the morning to get tasks done before everyone wakes up. Three – take the opportunity to work in a more relaxed way – on the sofa, in bed, whilst stuffing a Cadbury’s Selection Box in my face – it’s Christmas! If you’re going to edit a video, you at least have to do it with ‘Fairytale of New York’ playing in the background, right?

Photos by Emma Croman

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