• The Slow Digest
  • Posts
  • Reflections From Taking a 5 Week Break From Social Media and Content Creation

Reflections From Taking a 5 Week Break From Social Media and Content Creation

Hey friends,

It’s been a while since I’ve been in your inbox!

Just returned from a recent trip to Asia and still feeling some jet lag.

My sleep and energy levels have been all over the shop. So I’ve been struggling to get back to my normal life and work routines, but I’m slowly getting there…

25 days, 10 flights, 2 trains and 6 cities later, I thought it would be interesting to share 5 reflections and insights I gained from travelling to the other side of the world and taking a 5 week break from social media and work.

💡 Today at a glance

  • What do we miss out on if we solely focus on work, making money and hustling?

  • 5 reflections and insights from travelling and a 5 week break from social media and work

  • Exploring the idea of Making Peace with Productivity

What Do We Miss Out on if We Solely Focus on Work, Making Money and Hustling?

If we don’t prioritise life outside of work and ambition, we’re missing out on some very valuable aspects of life.

  1. Fulfilling and satisfying personal relationships with family, romantic partner and friends.

  2. Healthy mental and emotional well-being. If we neglect rest, self-care and leisure, it’s a one way road to burnout and disengagement with the world.

  3. Good physical health to take us through to old age.

  4. Creative energy for new ideas and overcoming problems. If you don’t give yourself space to mentally wander and unwind, experience new things or get a fresh perspective, you’ll struggle to be creative.

There are seasons in our life or difficult situations where life where the focus needs to be on working and making money to put food on the table.

But at some point, finding a better balance between working and living a life outside of work needs to become a priority.

5 Reflections and Insights From Travelling and a 5 Week Break From Social Media

1. Setting boundaries for “work” and setting the intention of how I plan to spend my time away (Without feeling guilty)

Before heading off on my travels at the end of January, I set the intention of taking a break from working on the side business, being on social media and content creation (including writing this newsletter).

That meant I was working hard up to the point of flying off to Asia, so I could wrap up all the projects and tasks, and not work while I was travelling in Asia.

I made sure to only schedule meetings, projects and tasks for a week or so after returning home from my trip, to avoid any anxiety or stress around preparing for any of those things while I was still travelling.

That really helped me mentally clock off and keep any feelings of anxiety or “not being productive” at bay.

💡The Takeaway: Set boundaries and plan ahead, so that you meet the intentions you set (without anxiety, stress or guilt). As they say, “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

2. Focusing on relationships and conversations was a rewarding feeling

I was flying 22+ hours to the other side of the world to visit family and friends.

So actually spending time with them and having conversations with them was a no-brainer. I even got to hang out with my cousin’s new bub a handful of times!

When I looked at my screen time on my phone for when I was travelling, I was pleased to see that on average I spent less than an hour a day on my phone (excluding screen time reading eBooks and articles—I did spend at least 30 to 60 minutes each day reading, some days more).

Since it’s bee a while since I’ve seen some of my family and relatives, it’s become apparent how much they’ve aged.

It’s a reminder of how short life truly is and it has definitely made me more appreciative of the limited time we had together even more.

When I left Asia to return home, I knew it’ll be a long while before I would see them in person again.

All that feeling of anxiety or guilty about “not being productive” with time, the urge to do more work, be more ambitious, finding ways to grow faster… it all kind of just faded into the background.

💡The Takeaway: When you reflect back on how you spend your time, chances are you’re not going to say “I wish I spent more time creating content to grow my audience”… And it’s more likely you’ll think “I’m glad I took some time out to spend quality time with people”.

3. It was calming and refreshing to focus on slower activities

While I was on vacation, I spent a lot of time reading books (started and finished reading Paul Millerd’s book, Pathless Path, after it’s been on my reading list for months!) and catching up on my favourite email newsletters.

The Pathless Path has given me the language and mental model to describe my current experience of not having a traditional 9-5, being on sabbatical and being present with the feeling of “the unknown”.

I also spent a lot of time walking and doing more spontaneous things like last minute breakfasts with friends.

So much of my 9-5 life has been on the “default path” filled with plans, goals, productivity and ambition.

These can certainly exist on the “pathless path”, but the plans and ambitions might look different, be harder to explain to others and it’s perhaps even a struggle for you to explain it to yourself!

💡The Takeaway: Embracing the pathless path involves slowing down, having an open mind and focus on experimentation (without attachment to the result).

4. Exploring new cities and gaining new travel experiences brought a renewed sense of gratitude

A big passion of mine is travelling and documenting my experience and travels through photography.

During my 9-5 life, I’ve been fortunate to be able to set aside savings to travel a couple of times a year.

As I get older I’m enjoying a slower pace of travel—exploring new cities, trying local foods and learning the history and culture of the new place much more.

This slower approach to travel is a richer and more grounded experience.

Compared to the fast paced city or country hopping that I might had more energy for in my younger days.

For example, exploring the coasting city of Danang in central Vietnam, learning about Vietnam’s imperial history and tragic modern history, getting a taster of the local delicious Vietnamese food and watching the sunrise on the beach reminded me that there is so much wonder in the world and that I have a lot to be grateful for.

💡The Takeaway: Travelling opens your eyes and mind, and more often than not helps you become more grateful for your own life and situation.

5. Giving yourself headspace to mentally wander leads to creativity and ideas

There were only a handful of concrete plans, and dates and times that I had to be at certain places during my trip to Asia.

Besides those plans, the intention was to focus on relationships, resting and reading.

This gave me the mental space to let my mind wonder, which allowed me to think of new content ideas, what I want to explore while on sabbatical and the direction of my side business.

In my last newsletter edition, I toyed with the phrase Peaceful Productivity.

📍 My working definition of Peaceful Productivity:

The art and science of pursuing meaningful ambitions with inner peace and groundedness, free from anxiety or mental overload.

During my time away, the idea has naturally evolved.

Now I’m interested in diving deeper the concept of Making Peace with Productivity.

This was partly inspired by the Pathless Path book. As it helped me start to make peace with not being on a default path or a 9-5 (as I have been for so long in my adult life).

Instead Paul Millerd encourages readers to explore ideas without knowing exactly what road you’re actually going down.

Instead of feeling uncomfortable being off the default path, I should be grateful to be in a position of having enough savings and the opportunity to be on sabbatical.

💡The Takeaway: I’m excited and anxious about leaning into exploring the concept of Making Peace with Productivity (without a clear plan). But I think dive deeper into the my personal relationship and feelings about “being productive” in the current achievement culture will be interesting.

I’m also interested in how we can leverage productivity tools like Notion to turn it into a personal co-pilot to help us have a better or healthier relationship with productivity and achievement.

🛠️ Building in Public

A while back Kevon asked if I was interested in sharing my story on his Public Lab website. As I’ve been such a big fan of his Build In Public Mastery course and methodology, I was more than happy to do so.

Writing the article turned out to be a nice way to reflect on my journey so far as a part time solopreneur.

It was finally published while I was out of town. So if you’re interested here’s the article.

That’s it! Thanks for reading.

Hit reply and let me know what you think of the idea Making Peace with Productivity —I’d love to hear from you!

See you next week,

Janice CK

P.S. I’m so excited to read Cal Newport new book Slow Productivity that is dropping next week! I’ve been waiting for for years for it to finally be released!

Whenever you're ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

  1. Ultimate Guide: How to create your digital writing system in Notion under 1 hour (Free!): Ready to learn how to use Notion to create your own writing system so you can write consistently?

    Join 110+ people who have downloaded this guide to build their own Writer’s Hub OS in Notion with built-in slow productivity principles.

  2. Mini-Course: Writer’s Hub OS in Notion: Learn the best practices for building in Notion, Workflow Design design and implementing a writing system that helps you get organised so you can focus on turning ideas into published content. It includes a ready-to-go Writer’s Hub OS template in Notion.

    Perfect for new digital writers and solopreneurs looking for a system in Notion.

  3. Travel Hub Notion Template (Free!): All-in-one Travel Planner that helps you ideate, plan, research and organise your trip stress free using Notion.

    Join 780+ people who have already downloaded this system and upped their travel planning game.

Interested in supporting me (for free)? 💚 

Join the conversation

or to participate.