James Mayes

Guest post: Life In The Slow Lane

In Blogging, Gadgets, Guest post, Personal Development, Social Media on September 12, 2011 at 11:05 am

Just recently, a long standing Twitter friend of mine announced she was off on holiday and planning a Social Media detox.  It’s something I’ve written about before and believe more people could benefit from. I asked Sarah if she’d be kind enough to share her thoughts – so pleased she agreed. 

James’ post ‘Going off grid’ reflected on his time away from social media. I recently had my own two week detox and prompted by James, learnt three things from the experience (convenient for a blog post doncha think!)

Henri-Frederic Amiel1. Time slowed right down

The majority of people I speak to, always seem to comment on just how ‘busy’ they are. Whether that truly is the case or not, I think social media heightens that feeling, with more ideas, more conversations, more things to check, watch, monitor, try or share.

Life speeds along with its fast food and takeaway coffee, let alone keeping up with the pace of a twitter conversation or following a hashtag. My impatience levels had risen so high, that before I went away, I had drafted an article on my frustration with video blogging. I was annoyed that I couldn’t speed read and felt resentful that the pace of my information consumption was being dictated to.

During my break, I tasted the food, listened to the background noise and yes felt the grass grow under my feet. By the end of my hiatus it was though the matrix plug had been removed from the back of my head. I was rebooted.

2. Quest for knowledge is my driving factor online

So why did I log back on? Honestly, I wanted to catch up.

Yes, on a social level, with my virtual friends and the communities I connect with, but, when asked why I use social media, as a Recruiter, I can genuinely say that:

  • I have won business after a client has “looked me up online”
  • Prospective candidates have approached me directly after reading a tweet or status update
  • I have found, sourced and recruited through my network and from tapping into the networks of those I am connected to
  • As a bi-product of social media, I have formed strong collaborations, shared knowledge and experiences as well as sourcing excellent local suppliers for my business

Yet if I had to pinpoint just one thing, it would be the knowledge I have gained that brings me back time and again.

The web is just so vast that you need help to navigate even small parts of it. Before these platforms I would have just ‘Googled’ keywords and waded through.

Now information comes to me directly, pre-screened from people in my local area, sector, profession or area of interest.  Their expertise and inside knowledge has led me to specific tutorials, fabulous nuggets of information, tried and tested products or tools that I would never have found on my own.

3. Perspective

Slowing things down wasn’t only beneficial to my health (by the end of the first day back in the office I had a wicked headache) it put me firmly in the moment, I felt as though I was experiencing life, rather than just processing it.

Ultimately it raised more questions for me:  What effect does this pace of life have on me, the decisions I take every day and the value I place on knowledge Vs experience?

How can I keep hold of glimpses of clarity my detox gave me? How can I incorporate better productivity and more regular reboots?

Once again, I’ll turn to the web, read more of the much recommended blog zenhabits, as long as I have the time and it’s not in video format though eh?

Sarah Cooper is a Founding Director of McGennis Loy, specialist recruiters for Finance and HR. She can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

  1. Great post – and all about Mindfulness without even mentioning it. Keep at it Sarah – a little pausing to notice life now and again goes a long long way. Ferris Bueller had the right idea…if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it 😉
    Thanks for posting James

    • Bang on Susan! Call it mindfulness, call it going off-grid, whatever – as technology develops and the pace of business grows, it becomes ever harder to switch off. The space and clarity is good for maintaining perspective and thinking through the bigger things. I’m plugged into “stuff” evenings and weekends regularly – so I try and get one weekend a month disconnected, and a few times a year aim for more like a week. I find it invaluable.

  2. Sarah,

    Very interesting article. I think I’ll stay in the “slow lane” (probably better for my health).

  3. Love the post Sarah – totally get the sentiments and the battle with needing to `log on` to get some kind of online blood transfusion!!

    I went to Anglesey on holiday in August – and other than the fact I chose a cottage with wifi, because I `had` to respond to work at the end of each day – the antiquated nature of the island meant 3G & Wifi were merely gobblydigook to the locals. I had to go off grid, unintentionally.

    However, it was refreshing to say the least. Genuinely relaxed (despite young kids!) – and I came back with a clearer head.

    …and I think that is the point. Clearing the head. Social Media is mental overload. A good friend of mine who is a Social Media marketing professional and highly influential in the space, Gemma Went, says she always breaks away 2 or 3 times a year to Woolacombe, to switch off – maybe write – but take time to clear her head.

    Sometimes we gotta know when to slow down a little.
    I could use this lesson more…

  4. Thanks Susan I will certainly take a look at the wisdom 2.0 conference, anyone who quotes Ferris Bueller talks sense to me 🙂

    Jim the whole health issue is a concern. I’ve taken to wearing my glasses almost permanently since I’ve plugged back in, even though the prescription is so weak. Yet what about other implications for the future, burn out etc

    Steve so glad you liked it. Getting the opportunity is more than half the battle, especially with a young family, also owning your own business – its a rare moment when you can put that to one side.

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