I worked remotely last week, heading up the family cottage for a change of scenery. It wasn’t a vacation. I replied to emails, I kept all my phone-based meetings and, by and large, only those most intimately connected to the business knew I was gone. There were some perceived downsides – the internet at the cottage is a small step-up from dial-up, limiting how much time I could spend online. Cell signal is limited meaning I was calling clients from an unknown number (the cottage landline). I was, in short, pseudo-disconnected.
And it was glorious. Not having full internet access meant I spent less time “checking on things” (aka, surfing). Having limited cell signal meant I was interrupted far less than usual. And I got a tremendous amount done. More importantly, I climbed out of the weeds and muck of details that I’ve been living in for the past few weeks, and re-prioritized – re-calibrated, if you will – where I should actually be spending my time. I was able to assess every aspect of my “work cycle” by changing the environment in which I did it. Everything became a proactive choice vs a reactive habit.
I think we over-emphasize the importance of our own presence sometimes. I realize not all of us have the luxury of slipping off to a cottage for a week (many thanks to my in-laws for creating such an opportunity for me!). I don’t think it matters. I think working out of a coffee shop everyday for a week would have a similar effect. It’s easy to take for granted the habits that we unconsciously form in our standard work day. I’m not saying they’re necessarily good or bad, but I am saying they’re worth being aware of.
If your summer’s a little quieter like many people, now may be the time to change things up.