Explore Your Creativity with National Coloring Book Day

I’ve been coloring for years. I’ve always found it relaxing. Usually I buy my coloring books at a dollar store. When I’m coloring within the lines (and sometimes not), I forget about everything.

coloring book

Coloring can be meditative.  (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Now coloring is a hot trend. In 2015, 12 million coloring books for adults were sold, up from 1 million in 2014, according to an AARP The Magazine article in the December 2016/January 2017 issue. I was delighted when a friend gave me a Cityscape coloring book. It’s given me hours of relaxation.

The article confirms what I had already discovered: “Coloring puts you into a flowlike state – which can help you focus and relax – and can lower your blood pressure.”

If you want to try coloring, Aug. 2, is the perfect day as it is National Coloring Book Day, a day to relax and color.

“For me, coloring is meditative – it taps a certain part of my brain and requires a repetitive motion to fill in the colors, and I find it relaxing and allows me to tune out other things and focus on one,” says Aliza Sherman, a speaker, author and web pioneer who has championed women in tech since the 1990s. “There is a nostalgia to coloring – it is something we do as children then give up as we grow up. We all crave the comfort and ease of childhood so there is something almost therapeutic for me when I color.”

At the 2015 NFPW conference Aliza spoke about how coloring can help a person disconnect from being too digital. I followed up with her and asked her to tell me more.

“Coloring is something tangible and tactile – two things that are often missing from our digital and online activities and experiences,” Aliza says. “The mental activity of selecting colors and determining where to place the colors can leads to physical activities like picking up crayons or pencils or pens and inspecting them, testing them out, holding them this way and that. Moving the color across the page is a gradual process that builds over time. There is a satisfying feel of color tool to paper or coloring surface. There is satisfaction as the coloring progresses and is completed.”

Coloring and its slowness is the “antithesis of the rapid-fire pace of digital technology,” Aliza notes. “Coloring taps a different part of your brain than technology, lights it up in different ways and calms parts that are jangled from overusing tech and being way too connected online.”

Why not spend Aug. 2 relaxing with a coloring book?

I Survived Michael Smart’s 30-day Detox

I’ve never been good at following instructions. I often don’t think the rules apply to me. Sometimes, I make the rules up (just ask my sister about playing Monopoly with me as a child!).

So I confess that while completing a 30-day digital detox under the guidance of Michael Smart, I may not have followed all of the rules exactly. However, in some instances, I was actually ahead in terms of my detox.

One rule I broke was not deleting my social media apps from my phone. I had a perfect excuse (as I’m sure many others did). Mine was that I use them for work. I’m often at events where I post using my phone and not a laptop. I didn’t want the extra step of logging in via a browser. I expect my devices to work for me.

The point of deleting the app was to keep me from looking at the sites throughout the day. Fortunately, I don’t do that. And through the detox I’ve been even more focused on not checking. My personal phone now stays in my handbag, and I check it at lunch only.

My work phone is off to the side and I only check it when I receive a text message or phone call as only a few people have the number. The rest of my day is focused on my priorities, which ultimately is the point Michael was making.

One tip that greatly benefited me was “ruthlessly unsubscribe from every mass email that doesn’t bring you massive value.” This has been a game changer for me. I subscribed to some emails thinking I would glean nuggets of information. Instead all I did was hit delete. Before long, I had about 20 such emails, and while a nano second to delete doesn’t seem like much. It was adding up. I unsubscribed and my mailbox is not nearly so cumbersome.

Despite working in a profession in which I have to be 24/7 accessible to handle a crisis, I am not tethered to my mobile. Yes, it’s with me. But I don’t check it constantly. I’ve told everyone that if I am needed to respond, I should be called. That prevents me from looking at my phone and checking emails all weekend. The problem with checking is that it becomes too easy to respond to emails.

So when Michael proposed that we create a digital “sabbath” one day of the weekend, I realized that for the most part I was doing it. What would help, though, is his suggestion of setting an auto responder. By setting an auto responder asking people to phone me if they need me during the weekend, I reinforce my message about calling me if I am needed.

He had many other great tips, and I’m working to incorporate them into my habits. It’s not easy to do but I’m making a good start. Would you share in the comments field one of your tips for managing your digital presence?

4 Steps to Help Disconnect for Vacation

SAMSUNGI recently returned from a week’s vacation where I did not check in with the office or read work emails (much). I suspect most people won’t believe that, but it’s true. I knew I needed a vacation to recharge. And that’s just what I did.

To ensure that I would be able to disconnect, I took some steps that might be helpful to you. Here are the four steps I took –

Plan ahead: I scheduled no new meetings the three days before I left for vacation. This ensured that I did not get new assignments. I also spent those last three days wrapping up projects.

Identify who can help: I let my boss and others with whom I frequently interact know who would be my back-up. I also set my out-of-office on my email and voice mail. Nothing is more frustrating to someone who is trying to reach you and they don’t know you are out of the office.

Set parameters: I told key people that if they needed me to mark URGENT in the subject line. Those would be the only emails I would read. Fortunately, I never received any. It helped that I planned my time away during a slow week.

Schedule your return: I kept my out-of-office on for the first Monday back. I blocked the entire day to connect with colleagues to see what I needed to immediately address. Once I handled those tasks, I responded to emails, many of which at this point could simply be deleted.

By day’s end, I was caught up and ready for the next big project. I still have plenty of energy from the vacation, too.