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Outsmart the Hustle

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2013-11-06 05.34.32

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”

– Margaret J. Wheatley

He starts the morning in bed poring through interesting articles and scribbling notes on the covers. Skipping breakfast, he patters upstairs in his stocking feet to read more papers. Noon and dinnertime bring him back downstairs to enjoy meals at the kitchen table, where he has a view of the Olympic Mountains. Lunch will be grilled cheese sandwiches and clam chowder.

Facing the windows with a water view stands a simple wooden desk with a laptop computer. To the side is a bookshelf lined with “The Great Books” series of literature classics. A portrait of Victor Hugo hangs on the wall. A bathroom and a small refrigerator, stocked with Diet Orange Crush and Diet Coke, were added to the office in recent years so he can maximize his reading time by not having to go downstairs.

This is how Bill Gates used to spend a seven-day stretch known as “Think Week,”  a time of seclusion that he used to ponder the future of technology and then propagate those thoughts across the Microsoft empire.

It's a twice-yearly ritual that dramatically influenced the future of Microsoft and the tech industry.

Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Deepak Chopra all made a habit of it.

If some of the most successful and creative entrepreneurs in the world make time to step away from their busy schedules, maybe it’s time to include it on our own busy lives.

I just returned from a week in beautiful Baja California, Mexico where my days consisted of practicing yoga, reading, sleeping, eating and refection.

While there, I had time to contemplate my personal aspirations as well as evaluate the changes that are happening in my life. My rational mind was telling me that I had no business leaving for a week while in the midst of starting a new business. Yet I received more clarity and new ideas than I could have achieved from a month of taking short breaks between my busy-ness.

I spent uninterrupted time with my wife. I went for hikes along the beach. I finished 2 books and started another. I practiced yoga every morning and evening. I enjoyed good meals with new friends. I sat and just stared at my beautiful surroundings during the sunrise and sunset. I watched critters scurry about the desert.

It is truly amazing how the mind can expand and create once it’s given space to relax.

It was an enlightening experience that allowed me to make clear decisions on what I want to do next in my personal and professional life.

I can’t remember the last time that I have been almost entirely disconnected from my phone, email, Facebook, etc; for an entire week! It was such a powerful reminder that I allow myself to be constantly interrupted by these technologies.

By disconnecting from the world, time slowed down and things got really peaceful.

I found myself really enjoying the moment, which I often neglect in my self-created chaotic world. And this was time worth cherishing, which is exponentially more valuable than time that flies by because I’m working hard on something or trying to meet a deadline.

So, as you begin your week, hustling and bustling and putting out fires, remember to take a step back and think about the power of stepping away from it all.

Maybe it’s time that you spend 7 days on a beach in Mexico. It could be the difference between burning yourself out and elevating your personal happiness and well-being.

– Michael

P.S. Do you ever struggle with stepping away from it all? Tell me one way that you disconnect from the busy-ness of life to recharge.

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