The Value of Unplugging

This past December I did something that I usually don’t do during my vacation time; I completely unplugged from my work, freelance and charitable endeavors. I had not done this for years and I strongly recommend it. After all, how can we truly refresh our minds if we are distracted by emails, phone calls and the exposure of new information that we are fed on a constant basis? My new attitude and almost scary calmness got me thinking, why did tuning out the noise make so much difference?

While I love Stefan Sagmeister’s practice of taking a yearlong sabbatical every seven years, this is just impractical for most In-house creatives. I can only imagine the laughs if I told my management a yearlong break would rejuvenate my creativity. So how does an in-house creative get a fresh outlook, while maintaining corporate employment? Mini sabbaticals? Maybe. Here are a few suggestions that I am going to employ over the next year to help refill my mind with relaxation and creativity.

  • Turn off the electronics
    As I said earlier, this past Christmas holiday I took a little over two weeks off. I unplugged from all of my endeavors the entire time. I had truly underestimated how overworked and stressed out I was, until everything was quiet. I got to sit back and think about the amazing projects I worked on over the course of the year. I painted, spent time with my family, cooked and exercised. While nothing on that list was monumental, they were all things that did not involve the noise of work. I purposely tried to do things that weren’t productive, and on January 3, I arrived at work with a calmness I haven’t had in years.
  • Make art, with your hands
    I often commiserate with sculptor Brett Waller ( that as a society we are losing our physical touch with the world. He thinks, as I do, that we should all spend more time creating handmade art. Some studies say that making art stimulates and develops the imagination and critical thinking, and refines cognitive and creative skills. Playing with clay for fifteen minutes might sound a little childish, but maybe that is the head space we need to be in to bring us back to our humanity.
  • Say thank you
    I suggest reading Ed Roberts’ recent article in HOW’s In-howse blog about the value of saying thank you. We so often get wrapped up in our own lives and work, we forget to say thank you to the people who help make it happen on a daily basis. Never underestimate the power of sincere gratitude and how a smile on someone else’s face can inspire you.
  • Find your meditation
    Finding quietness and stillness is hard when you are in a constant mode of outputting creative gold, but it is important to take some time to yourself and relax. Meditation can help cope with stress and anxiety. Try putting relaxation in your schedule for a few minutes on a regular basis. If sitting in the quiet isn’t for you, try taking a walk, dancing to your favorite song, sketching, deep breathing or stretching.

I know that these are just few, but that is a lesson I learned last year, don’t take on more than you can handle.

What techniques do you have for relaxation and refreshing your creativity?

~ Meredith, In-house Programming Chair
More on Sagmeister’s view on The Power of Time Off

By aigajacksonville
Published January 12, 2012