To most people going off the grid means chopping wood, digging Wells, and harvesting the garden. Not actually accomplishing anything that's related to work, but in this distracted, technology-packed, constantly connected world that we're living in, going off the grid at least temporarily and part-time can be one of the best things you do for your productivity.
I admit I'm an introvert. And I drive my family absolutely nuts because they can never get a hold of me… Or at least that is what they tell me.
But that's because I've discovered it's possible to get so much more done if you're off the grid. At least in small blocks of time. We’re so connected all the time that everybody thinks everyone should be always available.
Email, phones, messenger… They dominate our daily lives. I was recently bitching to a partner about having to be connected to email, Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Keybase, WhatsApp, and Matrix… And how I keep getting shit every time I miss a single message in any of those groups.
One of Nashville's most successful songwriters, Bobby Braddock, Co-writer of “He stopped loving her today.” talked about how much he used to get done back in the seventies and eighties.
He said, "You know, I'd write 10 songs monthly. I took vacations, I partied, and he read a lot.”
Nowadays, we don't get anywhere near that accomplished with all the distractions.
So, what does it take to get off the grid, so you can get more done?
Well, I've discovered that you can't just do it. You must prepare.
At the start of the day, you need to look at your tasks and determine which ones require you to be available and what meetings you need to attend. You can't be off-grid for those. I find it helpful to block time and try to group all those things together whenever possible.
For example, in my case, Tuesday's my meeting day. And yes, by the end of that day, as an introvert, I am exhausted. But it means that I can drop off the grid during the rest of the week, and nobody gets up in my face for it. Or at least there's a lot less of it.
Next, set up your email with an autoresponder.
People are less likely to be upset with you and your lack of responsiveness if they get something saying that you're going to get back to them.
Then turn off your email. Yes, off, don't leave it running in the background. Don't set your phone with it beside you. Shut it down. Completely.
Next, do the equivalent with your messenger service. Set a status for any of the messenger systems that allow that and then shut them down.
No notifications, no little pop-ups, nothing.
Then shut off your phone. Don't just turn off the ringer. You're going off the grid. Worst case scenario. Put it in another room completely with the ringer off. And close your office door if possible.
Or even better yet, go somewhere else. I don't recommend a coffee shop for these off-grid times.
They can be great places to get work done, but they're about as far from off the grid, as you can get.
If it's impossible for you to get away from the office or from your home during these off-grid times, put on noise-canceling headphones, but keep the music off. Noise-canceling headphones use technology and power, so they're not completely off the grid. But it will help you simulate that environment if you can't actually get to a cabin in the woods.
Speaking of which nature sounds would be a good replacement for the music.
If you need to work on your computer during this off-grid time, it's best to disconnect from the internet. Worst case scenario, get distraction-blocking software, like motion or other Facebook blocking tools.
Now, just work. Bet the writing that you've been procrastinating on. Plan your year. Whatever.
Just get away from the technology you are so addicted to.
It isn't going to be easy at first. So, start by setting up a small timeframe or setting the trigger and finishing a specific task.
Just be sure the task will fit into a reasonable timeframe. Start with an hour, then increase it to two. Eventually, you might find that you could spend a full day off-grid or maybe even a few.
And at that point, you know that you are truly free.