Chapter 17: The art of switching off

Author: 

Demos Demetriou

Chapter 17: The art of switching off

Now here is something that I’m really, really terrible at. Ask anyone around me in fact and they will tell you I’m useless at it. I have always been like this and more recently I have become even more aware of it. Switching off. I find it really bloody difficult. I’ve tried going for walks, attempted to meditate but I just can’t stop the thoughts, ideas, tasks and challenges running through my brain at full speed!

I recently met with a very good friend of mine, in fact he is like a brother to me, we’ve known each other since we were kids and I’m very lucky to count him as a friend. We had not seen each other for a while because of our busy schedules and the fact we live so far apart. In celebration of our recent milestone birthdays we thought it would be a great idea to meet somewhere between the two of us for a catchup and some time away from everything. Sounds good right? A relaxing time with a good friend and a chance to unwind, what else could you ask for.

Not the Only One

The problem is we are both in a very similar situation. Paul Jenkins is a co-founder of a new platform called Xerofone. His team have developed a platform that can remotely disable Apps on a smartphone. They are targeting schools and businesses that are affected with students or employees who get constant distractions from their mobile devices. In a world where many of us use our devices more than we really should this could be a great way to limit that. They have had some great interest and more recently were shortlisted at Digital DNA in Northern Ireland. They know it is a tough road ahead but that hasn’t stopped them.

Given the last 18 months for both of us you would have expected it to be a great opportunity to wind down, but we didn’t! It was a quick 24 hours with many conversations circulating back to our businesses, the challenges, what we have planned and how we are going to do it. Yes, we did reminisce about the different businesses we have each been involved in and how things have changed, we even spoke about some new potential ideas.

Over all of the years I personally have struggled with switching off. I also know many people who struggle with the same issue, especially business owners. Some say you have to switch off, but it is so difficult when you are at the early stages of any business, in fact at any stage in business and when you are connected like many of us are these days. What is it that stops us? We know we should, but we can’t. Should we feel bad about that or should we rectify it?

A Nice Surprise

Just last week my partner arranged a lovely surprise city break. It was made even more special with the surprise visit of my parents. It was great to be with everyone for a few days away from home, but I almost felt like I wasn’t there. The constant whirring of ideas, challenges, plans and everything else just swirling in my head as usual. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about not being able to switch off, I personally have no issue with it, but it can affect the people around me and understandably so. The thing is, what do you do? If you have a lot in your head, you can’t just switch it off, can you?

I did hear recently that some entrepreneurs take one week a year, switch to a basic mobile phone with no email or data access and switch off. Now that sounds like a great idea in principle, but I do wonder if I could ever achieve that. What I do know for sure is right now that doesn’t really appeal, nor is it the right thing to do. As our business starts to grow and we have the resources maybe that’s when it will be more appealing. Maybe I’m wrong and if so, I would love to hear why.

As I have said time and time again, any founder of a start-up knows how hard it is and the relentless number of hours required to get things done. I’m pretty sure that the successful founders out there did exactly the same because quite frankly if you don’t, I really can’t see how you can become successful. There are no shortcuts and it’s never easy and part of that hardship is not being able to switch off.

Some Updates

We are still waiting to jump through the last hoop for the Hotel chain mentioned previously but it is looking promising that their London property will soon be part of the community with a view to roll the App out nationwide. We are so close now.

We have also sparked a little interest with another serial entrepreneur who has some great experience and may be able to assist with our growth. After a meeting and various phone calls it also looks promising. I hope within the next few weeks he will be on-board but as usual I won’t count our chickens just yet. We have been here before and things do change!

Finishing Up

I’m just finishing this blog after a 15-hour day and I still have so much to do! Maybe that’s why I’m lousy at switching off! I know I’m not alone and there are many start-up founders and small teams out there suffering with the same problem. If so reach out and let me know if you have found a way to switch off.