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Work in Progress – On or Off the Grid by @projectmaven

Work in Progress: The Life of an Entrepreneur in Beta

This is a series dedicated to the new entrepreneur. Welcome to the life you’ve always dreamed of creating.

On or Off the Grid: You Decide!

A few years ago, I decided that it was time to get rid of cable TV, a move that was partly motivated by cost, but more so by a need to unplug from the constant drone of voices telling me what to buy and how to think, and the endless repetition of details of the most frightening and anxiety provoking things happening at any given point in the world. I couldn’t take it anymore. (Not to mention the fact that I could too easily lose a whole night’s work getting sucked into a marathon of Top Chef.)

Since then, I’ve also gotten rid of my land line. I kept the number, but I substituted a very inexpensive Vonage connection. I don’t even keep a phone regularly plugged into it. I simply let it take messages that are instantly emailed to me as audio files, and I respond when necessary. The only people who regularly use that line anymore are telemarketers and bill collectors, so I haven’t lost anything in the way of communication with family, friends or colleagues.

During this same period, my time spent online has increased dramatically. Because I work regularly on behalf of clients in various social media platforms, I spend hours on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and to a lesser degree YouTube and other visual sites. But I also read many blogs as well as digital newspapers, magazines and literary sites. And we all know how much jumping around one can get involved in once you open the door to exploring.

And of course there’s my cell. I admit it, I’m one of those people who is pretty much umbilically attached to my iPhone. I use it as my mobile access to email, my calendar, my notepad, and an instrument of documentation. I take pictures and video on a regular basis, and record my thoughts as well as conversations with others as audio files. I check my FB page regularly for news from friends and colleagues, as well as the pages for the several clients whose platforms I manage.

Over the past several years, my relationship to mass media and communications has drastically changed. With so many digital options, I’ve been able to carve out a unique way of receiving my information and staying in touch with people, via phone, text, IM, video chat and email. No longer a slave to the broadcast TV schedule, I access movies and television shows through Netflix and Hulu Plus, sometimes enjoying a marathon viewing of my favorite program, at whatever time I like. I get much of my news via online sources, sometimes catching headlines via Twitter or FB links. And I do love Skyping with my family and friends around the world.

But even though I consider myself fairly well connected, I must admit that my favorite times are when I completely unplug - from my laptop, my television, and my iPhone. Sometimes I give myself a couple of hours to write, read actual books or magazines or attend a yoga class, take a walk, or go see a show or a movie. During vacations, I’ve allowed myself longer chunks of time away from email and texting, but I know I can do more! Honestly, it is SO HARD to completely cut the cord.

My hope is that I’ll continue to carve out these “off the grid” times. I’ve even had occasions out with friends when we’ve all agreed to shut off our phones while we are having lunch. As much as the thought can cause a little anxiety at first, it’s wonderful to be reminded that the world will actually continue without you while you recharge your batteries. And honestly, it's essential to have some downtime to reflect, relax and meditate. It’s why they invented voicemail.

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