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The Art of Switching Off: How to Do More By Doing Less

You are not a machine, yet I bet you spend over seven hours in front of a screen pretending to be one. Yes, I understand you have a lot of work to do, and it’s a sign of the times that most of it occurs digitally. Unlike your devices, however, you need more than a power source. You’re a complex organic organism that needs intervals of rest and stimulation to operate at your best. You work in one of the most industrious nations in the world. The US sets no limits on the working week and works than nearly all countries in the OECD. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. The US loses $500 billion every year due to work-related stress, and burnout can affect everyone from the solopreneur to the Fortune 500 CEO.

Behave like a machine, and you’ll eventually become physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and intellectually blunt. Instead, learn how to switch off and watch your productivity and the quality of your work soar. You might even unlock new thinking that helps bring you closer to what you want from life and help you reestablish or deepen connections with loved ones.

But how can you switch off when you have so many responsibilities? You might run a business, manage one, or work in a small team where your absence would encumber those you leave behind. Plus, you need to put food on the table. Well, no need to pack up and move to the mountains just yet. Here are some practical tips to help you switch off wherever you are.

Automate Admin to Free Your Time

Think of all the little repetitive tasks you do each day: Checking and responding to emails, scheduling meetings, paying bills, paying salaries, helping customers, and so on. Rather than handle these tasks manually, automate them with software. Work smarter, not harder, and employ technology for one of its biggest selling points: freeing up time to do other things.

You’ll find countless workflow automation software online to automate everything from payroll to task management to sales commissions. Google Workspace also has automation tools built-in, from smart labels in Google Mail to team calendars, that make it easier to organize your schedule and workload efficiently, lifting the burden from your mind (and your calendar).

Take Regular Device Breaks to Avoid Burnout

“What’s the problem?” you might wonder. Aside from poorer eyesight , headaches, and insomnia, technology addiction is also associated with anxiety and depression . You might think your always-on connectedness helps your customers or employees, but you’re setting yourself up for failure and worse. Logging extra screentime isn’t a badge of honor: it’s a health risk.

Schedule regular breaks away from devices. Most doctors suggest a five-to-ten minute break every hour, but go further and take an entire day (or more) now and again. Switching off will be hard at first — you might even feel irritable — but in the long run, freeing your mind from the clutches of your devices will help sharpen your thoughts and bolster your mental health.

Go for a Walk to Stimulate Creativity

One study suggests that walking improves creativity by 60% (compared to sitting). When you’re inside, at your desk, ostensibly working on a problem, you might find a stroll in a local park offers you better progress. Just being around nature (grass, trees, sea, wildlife) reduces stress , slows your heart rate, and eases muscular tension — the conditions where great ideas thrive.

Practice Mindfulness to Open Your Mind

But what is mindfulness? According to the American Psychological Association, mindfulness is “a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment.” Yoga and meditation are two common examples of mindfulness activities, but even spending fifteen minutes focusing on your breathing can help still an overactive mind and reduce anxiety.

Socialize With Loved Ones to Remember What’s Important

You might sell your company or take a sabbatical, for example. While pausing momentum might seem counterintuitive, the extra time and space could afford some much-needed perspective. And when you’re ready to resume your career or start a new venture, you might go farther than you ever thought possible having given yourself the time to reflect.

Everyone is trying to make sense of their lives, to create the conditions for happiness. The world is chaotic, and societal systems give a semblance of order, but truthfully, no one (nor agrees upon) the right path. We simply do what we think is best for us at the time. No one is perfect. We’re all human. We’re all fallible. And we’re in it together.

Image Credit: Mikael Blomkvist; Pexels; Thank you!

Andrew Gazdecki

Founder and CEO of MicroAcquire

Andrew Gazdecki is a 4x founder with 3x exits, former CRO, and founder of MicroAcquire. Gazdecki has been featured in The New York Times, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine, as well as prominent industry blogs such as Axios, TechCrunch and VentureBeat.

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ReadWrite is the leading media platform dedicated to IoT and the Connected World. We work with the industry's top technologies, thinkers, and companies to tell the stories that drive this world forward.

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