finding your daily launch pad

Posted on August 23rd, 2010

The lovely Clare Lancaster at Women in Business posted this interview with Gwen Bell, one of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Tech, 2010. It touches on some really great points, including how to get mindful for the day…. for everyone out there feeling like they’re doing too much, which is sooooo a theme this month. Too much, all layered up, swamped, drowning….and not doing things with heart and care.

Don’t know about you, but I’m BUSTING to come home to myself.


Last month Gwen unplugged, she did a digital sabbatical – no blogging, tweeting, Facebook or email for 31 days. Clare spoke to her about it and got some really lovely, poignant answers. For the whole interview go to Women in Business, a site for chicks doing it online. PS Clare is a GREAT web strategist, offering e-courses on how to build an e-businesses…e-hah!

And bear in mind this: Gwen experienced her most profitable month during her sabbatical.

Gwen on: how when you grow up you have to enforce your own breaks…

When we were students, someone enforced breaks. You’re taking the summer off. You’re taking the winter break off. School is closed during those months. Load up on library books and prepare for self-study. Because the library will be closed, too.

I think our entrepreneurial selves are like students, without those enforced weeks off.

We still need them, but because there’s no enforcer (which we love) we overextend (which can, like the slow wearing down of the enamel on your teeth, eventually create a cavity).

Gwen on: it’s good to miss your work…sprint, pause, sprint, pause

Cultivate space for yourself in the world. Practice mindfulness. Retreat. Study yourself. Not just for yourself, for your community. For the clients you serve. Unplugging gives you an opportunity to miss the work you do. Missing is good, it creates a desire to connect at a heart level.

Gwen on: how to do it yourself…starting kindly and slowly

In the evenings we don’t have to be online. And in the morning, when we wake up, it’s telling that nearly a third of women ages 18-34 checking email and Facebook upon waking – and before using the bathroom. When we check email and our social networks first thing, we align with someone else’s opinion of how our day should run.

My suggestion: use your first moments of wakefulness to be with yourself. Have a daily mini-Digital Sabbatical. Sit still and meditate, for ten minutes. Do longer retreats as your schedule allows.

And finally, and lovingly:

We’ve told ourselves a lie, societally-speaking. We’ve told ourselves if we don’t get back to someone right away – either the instant they message us, or the moment the phone rings – we’re doing them a disservice. Viewed differently, the person we’re doing a disservice by being always on is ourselves.

Reacting, rather than acting from our aligned center (you know the place in yourself I’m talking about) we overarch, overcommit, underappreciate and speed through our lives.

We find an expansive place from which to offer our time, rather than begrudgingly meeting. Whether that’s the time we give in emailing someone or the time we spend researching a client we’d like to pitch, we do it full-heartedly.

An expansive place is a much better launch pad for communicating. It’s stable and sturdy and will send you off directly to your target. Bam! They got it! We’re all clear!

When I’m resenting interuptions or emails, I’m wobbly. Everything comes out unconvincingly and uncertainly. I’ve been like this the past few months, and funnily on Thursday I committed during a morning walk to setting the tone of my day each morning. Just for five minutes. Choosing the flavour. And then off we go!

What about you? What do you do to come home?

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  • freefalling

    I have some advice for people doing too much.
    STOP IT.

    (the world won’t stop turning
    you are not that important.)

    Embrace your inner bludger.


  • Mia

    @ freefalling – LOVE IT.

    That fact about women connecting to social networks before they have evn used the bathroom in the mornings? Scary. Why do we care so much about what other people think?


  • Kat Eden

    I love this post Sarah … switching off is something I’ve been *trying* to do for months. It’s SO hard not to check email or FB on the weekend. The fact that I struggle so much to ignore the call of the world both frustrates me and makes me a little sad about the needs I’ve created. This weekend I didn’t turn the computer on once because I had to cram in some study, and even though I was not switching off as such it was so refreshing not to be joined at the hip to my laptop for 2 days. A welcome reminder to do more of the same!


  • Clare

    Thanks for highlighting this article, Sarah. Gwen had such thoughtful answers to my questions. She’s a great model of someone who works online but knows the importance of unplugging. Am feeling more and more like I need to do this myself more often.

    @mia – isn’t it scary? I’ve gotten into this habit myself – checking my email and Twitter first thing. Got to start banning the iPhone from the bedroom I think!


  • Mia

    I refuse to buy an iPhone for that exact reason! I think it is a slippery slope and so easy to fall into the habit when all of your friends do the samething! My boyfriend is completely weirded out by the lack of technology in my room – no tv, no stereo, not even a phone charger.


  • Jo – living savvy

    I do have enforced breaks – they are called school holidays (thanks to my children). Last year (first year of school), I thought that I could either feel overwhelmed and stressed about the years of school holidays that loomed before me (over 16 weeks a year) and loss of work time or instead give into the breaks …..this is what I choose to do. I use vacation care sparingly (as we all need a break from routine), head away to stay with my parents and in-laws where I can combine work and play and slow down.


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  • jacinta

    Birds. I sit in my small innercity backyard with a cup of tea and I wait and listen. Eventually a bird or two will appear, darting round the yard for seeds or they’ll start chirping perched up in a tree. I sit there and watch them go about being birds, admiring their freedom and simplicity. They help slow me down, particularly when I’m in the muddle of a million typing talking computer work things and my mind is spinning from procrastinating on facebok and twitter. I just go outside for a bit, have a breather, watch some birds, see the trees moving in the breeze and mother nature kind of just fixes it – the head spinny confusion gone. Calm comes back.


  • Kerrie

    nice idea in theory…tuning into yourself in the morning, but not possible with two young children..