I always knew it, but never tried it.

It happened by accident. I needed some allergy medicine from the pharmacy across the street. When I got off the elevator, I realized I forgot my cell phone. After a mild panic attack, I considered going back upstairs to my apartment. But seeing as the pharmacy was only about a 30 second walk, I decided I could live without notifications for those few minutes.

This is going to sound a bit dramatic, but not having my cell phone for that short period of time completely changed my vibe. It was like removing an anchor from my mind. I felt so free that I decided to keep walking for a while. Not once did I reach in my pocket or really even think about why I only got a few likes on my last article.

I ended up walking for about half an hour. Nowhere in particular. It was like taking a jog but less tiring. I then started to think that maybe I was making too big of a deal about this. Maybe it was just timing, a coincidence, some incidental explanation.

So I tested it. I spent more time away from my phone. I’d go to the bathroom and leave my phone on the couch. I’d go to the grocery store without my phone. And you know what, I felt that same overwhelming sense of clarity I experienced on that first trip to the pharmacy.

So I took it a step further. Instead of starting my mornings writing on my laptop, I began by reading a book. More clarity came, then longer stretches of creativity. Writing felt more simple, my ideas much more concrete. If it sounds like I’m explaining an epiphany, it’s because I am.

I realized unplugging actually helps me to work more effectively. Before this, I was always the type of person who didn’t want to miss out on any kind of opportunity. I stayed plugged in because I thought that all the opportunities are inside the “matrix.”

Now my thinking has shifted slightly. I’m the one who creates opportunities. By being at my most aware, I’m able to perform at a greater efficiency and with improved outputs. Constantly being plugged in doesn’t allow me to perform at my best. It doesn’t allow me to think in the way I need in order to operate at my most optimal levels. It just doesn’t work like that with me. I’m not sure it works like that with anyone, to be honest.

Regardless, these are revelations I’m making in my own life. Unplugging is actually a thing. It’s more than a thing, I believe it’s necessary to my well-being, my career, my life, and my sanity. You read all these posts about “thriving,” but until you actually put those concepts into practice, you don’t realize how powerful they can be.

My goal now is to keep pushing. I want to know what’s next. I’m researching ways to get more out of my writing, my parenting, my life, really, without overexerting myself to cardiac arrest. My ambitions haven’t changed one bit. I still want to be the absolute best at what I do. But if there’s a better way to get there, then I’m all for it.

Originally published at medium.com