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Hit Refresh: Step Away From the Web (Commentary)

Posted on 7.31.2013

In early July of this year, I did something I rarely have the opportunity to do — unless circumstances make it necessary (and even then I always seem to be connected in some manner): I took a few days off and went on a vacation.

Now, I know that unplugging from all things “digital” is important, and you likely do too. Taking a break from my virtual life as an Internet professional and as Editorin- Chief of Website Magazine serves not only me well, but also this enterprise. The same probably holds true for your business, as well. Who wants a tired and cranky writer reviewing your company and its products, right?

Nevertheless, that’s just what I did; I forced myself away from the daily grind and simply unplugged. I didn’t bring my laptop. I intentionally let the battery run out on my smartphone and barely even managed to watch the television news, opting instead to capitalize on quiet mornings to sleep until I was no longer tired, to take long swims in the cool waters of Lake Michigan, to throw the football and build sand castles (and deeper relationships) with my children, and to just walk and hold hands with my wife.

While part of me wishes that the result of stepping away from the Internet for a while was wildly dramatic, I realize that the best result isn’t what you leave with (e.g. some new inspiration or innovation), but rather what you leave behind. For me that was some tension and worry and some doubt and disbelief.

When you’re restored and those tensions are left behind, you will be surprised at what you can achieve. If you’ve ever been involved in the daily workings of a website, then you realize that stepping away is often easier said than done, particularly if you are as hands-on as I like to be. The benefits you hear so much about, however, really are true, and as a ’Net business owner you should actively encourage breaks, vacations or time off for yourself and your company’s staff, finding opportunities for your employees to simply get away, even if only for a few moments.

There’s certainly no shortage of research proving that when employees (owners, sales executives or front-line customer service personnel) are well rested and relaxed, they are friendlier, more attentive and more creative. You can work your staff hard — and there is certainly nothing wrong with that — but it is equally important to rest them hard as well. In some industries (namely the financial industry) they even force employees to take time off after a certain period of time. Consider the attrition cost alone of quality employees lost to less-demanding environments. There will not only be more work for those remaining, but there are also hiring costs (time and financial), and costs for training those newly hired employees. And, consider how a jaded view of something may incorrectly influence your decision on an important topic. If you were rested, would the outcome perhaps be different, perhaps better?

With only a few weeks remaining in summer 2013, I encourage you (and your enterprise) to step away — be it for five minutes, the afternoon or a whole week. Turn off the phone, and go enjoy the sunshine. Take a walk; throw a football or maybe even read a magazine. When you do take a moment to step away, you’ll be surprised with what you take away and leave behind.

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