In July 2012 I was pretty much incommunicado for nearly a month and, in line with the original purpose of why I started blogging to understand the expectations of my use of social media, I decided to share why and how I found it.

Preamble ramble

Sometime ago I blogged about capacity to get things done. I included a quote by Alan Brodie; “the quality of our thinking affects the quality of our performance”. I suggested you can’t be truly effective if you work at 120% capacity for too long; sometimes you need to tick over at 80% to charge the batteries and create thinking time. And sometimes you just need to get away from it all. So I did.

I had my 0% break…2 weeks on #philseuropeanstrudeltour and it was what was needed and enlightening for many reasons. I needed to ‘come down’ after an intense period of preparing for and finally rolling out a new website at work. Anyone who has worked on a project like that will know what I mean.

Being offline helped me further understand my expectations and practicalities of being online.

Background

For 2 weeks before I went on leave, while final work on the web launch was manic, blogging was not priority and I did not have time for tweeting much at all although I covered the work account whilst we switched sites. In those weeks I had stuff I wanted to post but not time to do it. As I’m a bit of a traditionalist and would like to think was ‘brung up propa’, I always aim to let people know if things they expect from me are likely to change, so I let people know what and why I would be a socmed recluse for a while.

I left my work mobile at home as, whilst away with family, I did not intend covering the usual socmed scanning and would not be picking up emails/calls etc. I did discreetly look to see what the feedback on the new site was a couple of times…for my piece of mind really, not that I could do much about it but I knew we have a good team who could if they needed.

The main bit

Before I went away, I had just read Ross Wigham’s post on Comms2point0 where he suggests switching off one of the sense channels can give a more intense experience to other senses. Read it, it’s good.

I had my Smartphone with me to take photos of what I was doing and where I had been. I thought it might be useful for people to see what a beautiful part of the world central Europe is. So I uploaded to Instagram on an evening and decided I would post a few of the pictures to Twitter at the same time rather than verbalise what I was doing. It gave me a whole new perspective on use of visuals, and hopefully others a view of parts of Europe. So not totally offline, ok.

I deliberately did not buy a European data bolt on, as I knew my hotel had free wifi. I also knew I was on family holiday to be with them, not my phone, socmed buddies or webworld, and as we would be out all day then I was actually looking forward to being offline during the day and just catching up on a night.

My family read books on holiday; I don’t do books but read blogs and web news etc. Whilst reading others blog posts I noticed the theme of weekly blog club was ‘rites of passage’. That was particularly relevant to my family holiday and I wanted to record that. So I thought let’s use the tools that I have available; Smartphone, wifi and some common sense. Problem…Posterous, my blog platform app, was down. So I downloaded the WordPress app, worked it out and uploaded a post. Took half an hour. I’ve since transferred my Posterous blog across to WordPress.

The summary bit

All that got me thinking that Smartphone tech and apps such as Instagram, Pinterest and blogging tools bring a fantastic opportunity for people who may not have previously had the chance to be digitally included or even for them to be engagers. Definitely food for thought.

And while I was away I did have time to relax, think about stuff and charge my batteries and reflect on life and family, where I’ve been and where I’m going. 120% is alright in short bursts…but so is 80% and definitely 0%.

I also sneaked a blog post in, which I said I wouldn’t be doing…but to be honest I’ve probably learnt more about social media from having a spell away from it and the DIY blog post than if I’d merrily carried on as normal.

And I realise my family is ace and support me more than I realise when I do the 120% and that is the reason why 0% is crucial.

Offline is sometimes a good place to be.

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