Like most of you, I have a 9-5 job sitting in a cube farm sending emails all day. Pretty basic stuff, really. But it’s fast paced. Our whole lives are now. With constant emails coming in, and instant messages. If that wasn’t enough, you get text messages, and Twitter notifications, and Facebook updates.
This is a problem when, for instance, you want to turn that barrage of messaging off – let’s say, for a day to relax. You remember relaxation, right? It’s something that you did when you were 18 all Saturday and Sunday. I can remember entire weeks where I just laid in bed, or moved minimally at the height of sloth-like relaxation. An economy of energy, let’s call it.
I took last Thursday and Friday off from a long stretch of work where I was working 60 hours a week at a minimum. I had nothing planned for those two days except a couple of errands. I just needed a couple days off. On Thursday, I got up at my normal time of 5 am and just laid in bed. My body had become accustomed to rising pre-dawn and having information streamed at my face by 6 am. Knowing this wasn’t coming didn’t seem to affect my eyelids. They remained restless so I went ahead and got up.
Instinctively, I sat at my computer at my house since I wasn’t going to work to sit at my computer. I had to remind myself that this was a day off and to turn the computer off as well. After 45 minutes of falling down a YouTube video hole, I finally did and made some breakfast.
Breakfast was scarfed down in about 10 minutes and by 8:15 am on my day off I was bored. I tried sitting on the couch. I tried walking to the mailbox. Apparently, the mail carrier doesn’t deliver all the mail by 8:15. I tried not looking at my phone. I tried again. And again.
How do people relax? How long does it take a person to unplug from the world? For me, it took about three and a half days. After running my errands (which don’t really count because traffic) on Thursday and catching up on a few TV shows (which still felt like a task because they were unwatched) I got through Saturday and got to Sunday afternoon when I felt the tension in my arms and legs finally begin to unwind.
My neck muscles began to loosen, just slightly. My breathing became more relaxed.
That gave me about three hours of a four day weekend to relax. Three hours until the looming Monday popped in my head along with the pile of unread emails from those four days. The neck muscles began to tighten. The tension in my arms and legs started to come back. My breathing began to hasten.
On Monday a co-worker asked me how my time off was. I told her about the three hours of relaxation and how I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m off to schedule my next three hours of relaxation.
(For more relaxation, follow Chris Kamler on Twitter where he is known as @TheFakeNed)