Do you realize how crazy you sound? My wife asked me early Wednesday morning last week. This was in response to me stating that I couldn’t exercise because our WiFi is out. This wasn’t me making an excuse. I really did want to exercise. It’s just at that moment, I really did believe that the only way one can get the benefits of pedaling hard on a stationary bike is with access to the Peloton site, a 45-minute program, and a leaderboard to motivate me. Now that’s real exercise!

I’m happy to share that I decided to just get on the bike and pedal anyway. Ironically, as I was on the bike, I got a flicker of connectivity that at least allowed me to know what the tension was on the bike. Whew! That was a close one…The whole experience reminded me how utterly dependent I’ve become on the internet.

So begins the story of my week without WiFi which happily ended this past Monday. Our outage started the prior Sunday. It was most likely set off by the fact that it’s Thunderstorm Season here in Florida. You can pretty much set your watch to the dependability of a thunderstorm somewhere between 2 and 3 pm every day of the week. Never fails. This past Saturday was no different. Nevertheless, we were still surprised when we noticed that our connection was well beyond “spotty” on Sunday morning. And after Xfinity came out, we learned that this wasn’t going to be solved quickly.

Besides recognizing the absolute absurdity of my exercise scenario, my week of disconnection provided several moments of clarity. Naturally, I had commitments to keep — calls with clients and other projects. To accomplish those, I alternated between stationing myself at Dunkin Donuts and taking advantage of shared workspace at a local community foundation.

But beyond that, I was home with access to nothing but books, my WiFi-less computer, my guitars — and of course, my own thinking and thoughts. I learned a few things and hope you hear something here that benefits you as well….

Turn It Off. I mean really, Turn It Off: As I said, I wasn’t completely disconnected. But, when I wasn’t at a coffee place or a workshare space, I was home where there were no interruptions. Coincidentally, this was also the week my phone died. As such, I typically left my phone off or in another room since it wasn’t serving much purpose beyond a pricey paperweight. All of the sudden, I found myself NOT flicking from the work I was doing to check social media, NOT interrupting my enjoyment of a book to get a call, and NOT feeling guilty if I just wanted to sit, think, dream or do absolutely nothing. I highly recommend blocking an hour or two a day to shut off your stuff and just be with yourself. You may like — or even love — what you see.

The Value of Deep Work: I’ve had many coaching conversations start with something along the lines of “I’m great at multi-tasking but I feel all over the place and nothing ever gets done.” Let’s face it, It’s really hard to finish anything when you’re trying to finish well, everything! This often leads into a conversation about the value of Deep Work: Committed blocks of time to take on big, important tasks. Sounds simple but it’s rarely easy. My priority for last week was to create the bones of a nonprofit I want to start to honor my Dad. This had been on my to-do list way too long! With no interruptions, I was finally able to do Deep Work and accomplish this. If you want to learn more about the value of Deep Work and how to structure it, check out Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.

Just Create: With extra time on my hands, I spent more time than ever creating. Usually, I have my little 15 minutes block in the morning. So, besides the nonprofit I mentioned above, I played with ideas for a new book, new posts (like this one), and lots of music. It was a wonderful reminder of how important it is for me to create space for this. Fifteen minutes a day isn’t nearly enough! If you want to check out samples of my music (these aren’t from last week), you can find me on Soundcloud HERE. So, What will you create today?

Reflecting on the above, it almost makes me want to lose my WiFi connection again someday soon! But then I couldn’t go running…

Author(s)

  • Robert Grabel

    Executive Coach

    Nonprofit Now! and Forward Is Forward

    Robert Grabel is an Executive Coach committed to serving others with a career that has included work in both the for profit and nonprofit sectors.  After growing his practice in in financial services, he spent nearly two decades in the nonprofit arena doing everything from launching his own start-up charity to serving in senior leadership roles where he helped raise millions in support of a wide range of causes.  Robert writes and speaks on a range of topics, volunteers, writes, plays music, runs and loves his time with his family and dog.   You can learn more about him and contact him at www.robertgrabel.com or his dedicated nonprofit site: www.yournonprofitnow.com