(spoiler: all it takes is a bit of focus and planning)
If you want to avoid packed airports and inflated prices over Christmas, but still have a good rest, you can design your own retreat staying at home. The only investment you’ll need to make is time, because the better you prepare, the more amazing your retreat will be. On the contrary, if you don’t plan your time, most likely your Christmas days will end up being filled by mindless browsing in the internet and social media chats, and you will not feel rested.
So let’s design together your low-budget staycation for this Christmas! Just follow these steps.
1. List what you enjoy and expect from a regular great retreat (time required: 10 minutes)
It can be physical attributes of a place, activities or how the whole experience makes you feel.
For example, here are my thoughts:
2. Decide, what you need to organize (time required: 25 minutes)
Once you have the list above, go one item after the other, and think of what it would take to recreate this atmosphere at home. Draw a table. On the left, write down the item, and on the right, what it means for you on a practical level. For example:
So for each of the things you’ve mention in item 1, write multiple things of what you can do, and what you need to plan to make this happen. If you know that you keep your phone next to your bed as an alarm clock and want to avoid browsing through Instagram first thing in the morning, maybe buy an alarm clock. You get the idea.
Think of what you could do to make this staycation not just a good, but a really great experience for yourself. Now re-read the whole thing. Does it look appealing enough? If the answer is no, review it, and add more fun and pleasurable things. Your retreat should not be yet another to-do thing on your list, but rather a supportive and memorable experience. Make sure that you have structured time, but also some time just to allow yourself to relax and do nothing.
Make sure you dedicate special attention to how you will use technology over this break. What will be a supportive use? What make you tired and needs to be eliminated or reduced? How would you do it without relying on your willpower?
Remember that our brains always default to the least difficult solution, so if you haven’t planned your tech use and activities that you enjoy, you’ll probably end up glued to your phone. No judgement if that’s what you want to rest, but most of us would rather do something else.
3. Convert this table into a to-do list (time required: 15 minutes)
Column on the right from the above is essentially your to-do list for the remaining days before Christmas to get yourself organized. Open your agenda and write down when you’ll do each of the steps. For example, I know that I need to set aside time to plan my activities around Christmas, so I will set up 15 minutes today to think through. If I know that I need to buy some elements for beautiful environment, I will set up 2 hours on Thursday to go to the shop.
4. Print out your schedule for the staycation (time required: 5 minutes)
Once you have your perfect schedule (not to-do list), print it out and put it somewhere where you’ll see it every day (next to your bed, by the entrance, in the bathroom, or next to your devices are all good places). You may want to print out several copies. Here is what my holiday schedule looks like.
You may have noted that rather than planning specific activities, I try to use time blocking technique, which gives me enough flexibility to change my plans and not get frustrated if I am a bit late. I also allowed specific time during the day when I will go and check my devices to give me piece of mind during other times.
5. Make a non-negotiable commitment (time required: 5 minutes)
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of the whole planning experience. The more thoroughly you do it, the better your experience will be.
Look at your plan, and imagine yourself following it every day for whatever period you have designed it. How does it make you feel? (if uncertain, go back to it and redesign it, it must feel really appealing). Allow yourself to feel this excitement. What would it be like to have lived this experience? Now visualise yourself NOT doing this experience. What would this feel like?
Then make a commitment to yourself to stick to it, and agree with yourself for a support system (for example, if you don’t follow what you’ve planned and fall into behaviour you dislike, you’ll have to pay 50 euros/pounds to charity). This way, you are anchoring both positive experience and a possible unpleasant cost of breaking your commitment.
Enjoy your retreat and happy holidays!
PS If you want to treat yourself with a proper retreat, we're organizing a digital detox this year in beautiful Barcelona - check out, when the next one is!
Ramesh Mourthy worked for more than 15 years in software industry in the US and the UK, until he realized he was not happy with what he was doing and his life was feeling "too mechanical". He left his job of an identity architect in a big gaming company to start his own sustainable farming business in India. In the new episode of Consciously Digital podcast, Anastasia talks to Ramesh about slowing down in the increasingly fast world, his search for balance and why technology makes us rush.
Think of making a first step in finding a more balanced life? Check our events all around Europe.
When was the last time you completely unplugged (and did it consciously, rather than having a panic attack about a discharged phone)? Sometimes we need to stop, so that we can finish the unfinished, think, make plans for the next year, be creative or simply be present with people we love. However, in the modern world not being connected has become a big luxury. Christmas break is a great legitimate time to allow your brain to have some rest from the excessive stimulation that online brings to our lives and process all information you’ve been feeding your brain with over the past months.
Here’s what to do to make your low-tech holidays successful, guilt-free and not suffer from the fear of missing out:
1. Have Fun and Get Physical
When on holidays, you suddenly have much more free time than usual, so make sure you know how you want to spend it. Plan and do as many fun and unusual things as you can, desirably with people you love.
Our brain releases dopamine, the hormone of pleasure, when we discover new interesting things and gain social recognition. If your life and/or your holidays are boring, you will feel an urge to get your dopamine injection by posting some status update on social media, craving for likes. Make sure you’re happy and you won’t spend so much time online.
Also, dopamine gets released through any physical exercise (together with endorphins that instantly boost your mood), so the more time you spend on holidays exercising, the less tempted you’ll feel to go online.
2. Go Basic
Replace your smartphone with a basic phone with no internet. It won’t be scary as it’s only for a few days. If you can’t help taking pictures, bring along a separate camera or (less desirable) take your smartphone with you, but put the sim-card in your simple phone, so that you only use your smartphone as a camera.
You will feel far less tempted to go online if you don’t have a device with you.
Are you a true ninja? Go phone-free for the whole Christmas break! But remember to leave an autoresponder and a phone of the next of kin for any emergency situations, otherwise you may end up worried about the others most of the time.
3. Be Prepared and Organized
Staying low tech means you will need to get more organized. Make sure to print out all your tickets, hotel bookings, train schedule, local maps and things to do, write down all phones you can possibly need incl. emergency, local taxis.
Put an autoresponder on your email saying you will not be picking up messages and asking people to email you back with the same email after the XX.XX.XXXX if it’s important (this way, you will save yourself from browsing through thousands of emails upon your return).
4. Plan Your Communication
Agree on specific timing of catching up with your close ones. If they are not around and you are waiting to hear from them, agree that you can be reached for instance, twice a day between 9 and 10 in the morning and in the evening.
This way, you’ll make sure that they know you are ok and you are still social, without being distracted by other things. The same is valid for any work-related commitments – if you are still planning to work, tell your bosses/clients that you can be reached during a certain time interval only.
5. Segment Incoming Information
If you still need to be in touch, you can create a temporary email filter, so that you only get emails into your inbox from people you are expecting to hear from. Or you can set up an sms notification, so that when an important email from your boss arrives which you need to respond instantly, you get a text message on your phone.
Have a Merry low-tech Christmas and make the most exciting plans for 2016!
Subscribe to our free digital detox tips
Dr Anastasia Dedyukhina is a keynote speaker, author of Homo Distractus, professional coach and a pioneer of the Consciously Digital™ concept.