How to disconnect?

How do I find time to disconnect?  In todays  busy world of two kids, two jobs in our family, a fair amount of work travel, and  building and now moving into our new house this seems to be the thing I have the hardest time with.  There is the literal disconnecting, from either work or technology.  I have gotten better at the work physicial disconnect over time.  I am there at 8:30 and I leave by 5:30 almost without fail.  The mental and technology disconnects have been much harder for me.  In fact, the more I have time to think at work, the more time my brain stays engaged outside of my desk hours.  And technology, ugh, no good at this.

My technology diconnect used to be via reading a book headed to bed. Lately that hasn’t worked.  My book is on my iPad which is the source of most of my connections in the world (my work calendar, my email, the internet, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and this blog).  I find myself instead of taking  30 minutes to read my book that I get started reading and then remember the ten things that I had meant to do that day and I begin to tackle a few on the spot.  Is it just that the device is associated with productivity?  Anyone else have this problem?

I am considering starting to read real books again.  Honest-to-god printed books.  So, 2000’s of me.  My other solution is banning the iPad from my bedroom.  That seems not practical though.  It serves as my music, my alarm, my source of book, and a way to catch up on the news.  Maybe I am rationalizing, but this doesn’t seem practical.

The only solution that I have had recently is the gym.  Being there has helped to mentally disconnect. I go there and I am only focused on the physicial activity.  This is giving me at least one hour, three days a week of separation from my to-do list.  Not enough, but a start.

Please give me some advice if you are reading this.  All of us have this challenge in some way, especially with technology, and I am wondering how you all are tackling it out there.

Commitments: Take Time to Think


Over the last month, and in particular the past two weeks, we have been in the midst of fall planning.  I tend to love this time of year, despite the fact it makes us really busy, because it causes us to step back from our day to day and assess how things are going and where we should go from here.  These reflection and assessment times are key elements to helping us propel our organization and our business to the next level.

After a tiring and inspiring two weeks, where I stepped away from my daily whirlwind for a full five days, whether it be for our executive retreat or my team’s leadership planning summit, I wonder out-loud (if that is what writing a blog is?) why I don’t do this more often? There is something ceremonious about the fall planning retreat, but truthfully I felt like we moved the needle on our organization more in the last few weeks that I may have all year.  So, why not do this more?  Why do we as business leaders see stepping away from the whirlwind as a luxury, or a bi-annual event, versus thinking of stepping back as more of the norm?

To be clear, I am not talking about having more “retreats” or big, off-site events, but instead I am advocating for creating more brain space in our schedules as leaders.  Time more regularly to think and reflect, to innovate and be creative.  This year, I have been working to create 90 minutes of unscheduled time on my calendar every single day.  This is really hard.  I have more than 100 people who want regular one-to-one meetings with me, as well as being a part of business reviews and accountability sessions with my team and others in the organization.  I am a part of at least two teams (mine and our executive team) whose team meetings alone take 10-12 hours a month out of my schedule, not to mention the working teams that break out of these groups to help to move key initiatives and projects forward.  How, amongst all of these pulls on my time, can I create more unscheduled time in my calendar?  And, since I am not used to having it, how will I prevent myself from losing it to distraction if it arrives?

With this pursuit, I have definitely improved my time dedication to assessment and reflection, but not near to where I would like it to be.  Here are a few things that I have learned that may help in this journey, or at least remind me in the future, as I am sure I will have times I forget.

  1. Have a plan or a goal.  I (and likely many business professionals) work better with a plan or a goal.  Whether it be 90 minutes a day of unscheduled time, or simply a bike ride a week, this helped me focus my energy and time effectively.
  2. Tell people about your goal.  Accountability is an amazing thing.  The more you socialize what you are doing, the more I have felt accountable to not just myself for this improvement exercise.
  3. Don’t be down on yourself.  Change is hard.  I failed more days this year than I have succeeded, but if I get down on myself for this, it defeats the purpose.  Being kind and forgivining to myself is hard, in fact, sometimes almost impossible.  The more accepting at my own misses, the better I am at improving.
  4. Get creative on solutions.  For me, unscheduled calendar time isn’t the only way to create time for reflection (despite the original goal).  Ensuring that I have time dedicated to other activities like riding my bike, working out, outside learning time, reading, community events has helped this journey.  During these times, although my mind is far from quiet, I think and reflect.  In fact, my best organizational structure idea in the last two years came while on my mountain bike riding “Flying Dog” trail in Park City, Utah.

I guess it would be fitting to close this blog post with a commitment.  In a life with a lot of things pulling at me – my adorable children, a desire to have quality time with Jon, my job, business travel on both sides of our family and a desire to stay healthy – it is easy to not keep up with this.  My commitment today is that I will keep trying, and not be frustrated with my progress or failures.

Girls Weekend: The First of Many (Let’s Hope)

I am one lucky momma.  This weekend I had the luxury of taking Katharine (my now 5 3/4 year old – that 3/4 is very important to her) for her first girls weekend.  I was coming off a very busy week at work (fall budgeting, executive retreat in Southern Utah).  The prompting of the girls weekend location (Seattle) was because I had a business committment there on Friday morning.  A few weeks ago, as we were planning for this busy week, I was lamenting being gone out of town from Jon and the kids for 4 of the 5 weeknights.  So, we decided it was a great time for the first of what will hopefully be many girls weekends (and boys weekends with Matthew and Jon) so Katharine joined me on my business trip.  Given the Seattle destination (Hilary – my sister – and her family live there), it also gave us a great excuse to see them and let our three girls play together.

As the week progressed, and I arrived home from my first business trip to the Executive Retreat at 8pm on Wednesday night having worked about 40-45 hours in three days, I was lamenting leaving again on Thursday even though it was both a work and fun trip.  I was just tired.  I unpacked and repacked that evening, snuggled Matthew and crashed, trying to keep the faith that I could do it.

So, Thursday at work, Jon brought Katharine down to drop her off and we headed to the airport.  My energy had picked up, and seeing her excitement helped me over the hump to leave again.  The smile on her face when she come running into my office and how tightly she held my hand as we walked through the airport will be two memories that I will never forget.


After I got through my work commitment on Friday morning, I met Hilary and Katharine for a lunch date and we took on the town.  Katharine had three things on her list:  1)  Put her gum on the gum wall in Seattle; 2) See the fish fly at Pike’s Place Market; and 3) Get her nails done.  Despite only an afternoon, we did it. On my list:  A nap.  I didn’t get to mine, but the excitement of seeing Katharine take in the sites, sounds and smells of the city for the first time made it worth it.



As we bombed around Seattle, I got lots of “I love you” squeezes on my hand and heard a lot of singing out of Katharine (she sings when she is happy).  And, I forgot that I was tired.  Life is busy, and often times the whirwind makes me not live in each moment.  On what was my most tiring work weeks in awhile, I am so happy that I didn’t allow being tired to take away from this priceless time with my little one.  Cheers to many more girls weekends little K.