Are you off, or “off off”?

You’re exhausted. Some of you have literally taken only a few days’ holiday in the entire year (or since March anyway).

It’s time for a rest – a real one. An honest to goodness, don’t check emails or Slack or messages or even social media or your phone, rest.

It’s the difference between being “off”…

…and being “off off”.

Really and truly off. Not working. Not even thinking about work. Not connecting to work things. Not even casually checking emails to “make sure this one client is okay”. Being really and truly off so your mind and body and soul get a proper rest.

I’m taking a few weeks off – after Christmas Eve I’m not coming back to work things until the 12th of January – and this is going to be “off off” time. There’s a difference, and I always feel it.

Mondays, for example, are my “quiet days”. I don’t arrange meetings for Mondays, and the team know if anything needs my review, the deadline needs to be Friday or Tuesday, so there’s no time pressure on Mondays.

I still check email and slack though, and message the team, and sometimes write blog posts or sketch out ideas or review things.

So I’m ‘sort of off’ on a Monday, but I’m still working. Work is on my mind and if there’s something needing sorted, I’ll sort it.

Not the same as being intentionally “off off”.

Christmas is a good time for it, because almost everyone we know is doing the same.

But really the major difference is in your own mind.

It’s the intention with which you take the time.

When you’re “off off”, you:

  • Put an out of office on your email(s), and give specific dates, and say you will not see the email. (You don’t even add a “but if it’s urgent” message, because anyone who knows you well enough to have something truly urgent will be able to contact you in some other way than email.)
  • Tell people in advance you won’t be working. You plan for it. You won’t be around so things need done before you finish (or they’ll just wait until you get back). If need be, you arrange for someone else to manage emails or messages or whatever needs managed.
  • Choose not to open email apps or other work apps. (Sometimes I’ve even deleted the app from my phone.)
  • If you use notifications on your phone, you TURN THEM ALL OFF. (I can’t recommend this more highly: i actually chose years ago to never have any notifications on my phone, ever. If it’s critical, someone will call, and it will buzz on my watch. Anything other than that can wait until I’m ready, not distract me out of the blue.)
  • Plan other things you actually DO want to do. Like buy books and set them aside to read, or mark podcasts to listen to, or save recipes for cooking, or get special treats to eat.

When you say “well, i’m off, but i’ll just check now and then”, your mind literally never gets a moment’s peace. You’ll be sitting watching a film with the kids and suddenly wonder about how that one client got on, and ten minutes later the laptop is out.
“Off off” is intentional. It’s planned. It’s prepared for.
And it does you good.
I also strongly recommend 10 days to two weeks if you can possibly manage it, because as we all know the first week of being “off off” you sort of zone out, sleep a lot, watch films and shows, maybe go for a walk, sleep some more, read a fictional novel or something easy, sleep, play with the kids, fall asleep on the sofa….
…and it’s not until the second week your mind starts to come alive and remember there’s more to life than emails and endless to do lists.
Hope you’ll be able to choose being “off off” this Christmas. You certainly need it.

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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon