Switching Off

I’m currently reading The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, and amidst the mixed reviews I’ve received, I’ve been enjoying it and found this gem while I was skim-reading last Saturday:

An abundance of information has created a poverty of attention

Now being a marketeer I love ideas that spread, so a saying that rhymes like this is right up my street. But I also find it overwhelmingly true. In my rant last month on the commoditisation of content, I made the ascertion that we are drowning in content. Tim says it far more beautifully, and reveals the consequence of our high level of media consumption: attention poverty.

So let me get down and get real. I wake up at 6am every morning and, as you know, pray and read my bible. But recently at 6am, I wake up and I’m thinking ‘blog’. I actually have a rule for no work between the hours of 11pm and 7am which I call the ‘eleven-to-seven’ rule – but last month I have all too often worked during those hours. When I’ve picked up a book to read, or fancied going for a calming walk, I’ve ended up flipping open the laptop and going through my to-do list.

In short, I’ve found that I’ve been unable to switch off. And it’s because I have so much information during the day, my mind is buzzing when I want to rest.

The whole point of me blogging is to sharpen my thoughts by using them to help others, and I know that you learn just as much (if not more) from the scars as you do from the successes. In exchange for my vulnerability, and the jabs and pokes I’ll get for my honesty, I’m asking a favor from all of you who read this – whether by RSS, as a note on Facebook, by email, or if you’ve stumbled here by mistake…. I want you to leave a comment and share with me how you switch off.

So if you’re not on my actual website, then click here, and let’s talk about this!




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Trisha Stewart
Trisha Stewart

Switching off is the most difficult thing to do for me. I, like you, spend far too much time on working out a to do list, making rules for myself, putting things into order. Is is not best to just plough through the workload ? Having a dog and horse riding is my switch off. It has to be done, the dog demands two walks per day, more if he could get it, I ride a couple of times a week, train a couple of times per week, more if I can and gardening when it is not raining. Those… Read more »

Tobit Emmens

family certainly makes for an enforced switch off! Other than that running 3 or 4 times a week for 30-40 minutes is a great time of prayer and escape. Have you read Shane Hipps’ book the Hidden Power of Electronic Cutlure – how the media shapes faith, the gospel and church? – you might enjoy it, I did! Another book I found helpful in understanding living in a media rich world is Mark Sayers, The Trouble with Paris. This too has helped me to find a discipline where I try to have at least an hour of clear-space (by this… Read more »

Robin Dickinson
Robin Dickinson

Hey Scott. Excellent topic, and thanks for your openess and honesty. Switching off is a fascinating topic – here are my thoughts: It’s about BEING vs DOING. The more your DOING (your daily actions and behaviours) aligns with your BEING (who you are – your inner self), the less the need to ‘switch off’, as you put it. When you are truly on-purpose; when who you are matches what you do; then there is no switching off. It wouldn’t make sense e.g. an artist who expresses their creativity doesn’t need to switch off from expressing their creativity. It just flows… Read more »

elizabeth juffs

Hi Scott For me, it’s about giving value to the other bits of your life i.e. work is important, but so is rest/relaxation, children, spouse/partner, spirituality, personal relationships, not to mention keeping on top of the 1001 things that keep food on the table and a pleasant environment to live in. So switching off has to do with giving as much value to the other aspects of your life as to your work. Without that switching off time, life can become too stressful and relationships, and health, can suffer. As a Personal and Professional Coach, I constantly see clients who… Read more »

Boon Yew Chew

Scott – I’m trying to do exactly what you’re doing – except that I’m no good at switching off at all. I wish I had the discipline to wake up at 6am to read the Bible and spend time in prayer. I’ve had to set aside time in the weekends, which is usually chunks of hours, because if I start to schedule things too hard, I fear I might lose the serendipitous qualities of social browsing on the web. Unfortunately for me, my work is tied to technology, so it’s hard to break out of that habit. I feel I’m… Read more »

Sherri Vance

I find it extremely difficult to “switch off,” if that means shutting down the constant buzz of information going into my head. That’s almost like a kind of drug. And I find that as I skim tweets, it does give me “attention poverty”…quickly scanning rather than really reading, not to even mention digesting. Yet habits like prayer and Bible study are very hard for me–sometimes I think I’ll do almost anything to avoid them. I think it’s because scanning tweets on the computer and being vulnerable and centered toward God are so immensely different, and the second requires so much… Read more »

Craig Rickard
Craig Rickard

Nice entry Scott and very true. The problem with not truly switching off is that when you finally get that moment where you do rest it comes as such a relief that sometimes finding the energy to get motivated again can take a lot longer than expected and it can harm your work for the next few days. I used to be an advocate of a bottle of wine or a night out with friends but in all honesty as I hurtle willy-nilly towards my 26th year I find a large, cold glass of skimmed milk and a few chapters… Read more »


Hi Scott I just wanted to give you a pointer to presentation that Tim Ferris gave at the Do Lectures last year. I didn’t know anything about him until I came across him on the Do site. Fascinating stuff, take a look: http://www.dolectures.co.uk/speakers/archive/20… But I then read the rest of your blog and thought it would be rude to leave without adding a contribution! I really struggle to switch off. Like you, I really enjoy what I do, so I like doing it. Given different economic circumstances I think I’d find it easier to take some time out, but for… Read more »

Sam Bull
Sam Bull

I have just been trying to think about how to add to this discussion and I cant think of any better way of saying it than has already been said by Elizabeth Juff – It is about giving value to other aspects of your life. Even if you completely enjoy the work aspect of your life and struggle to stop working because you enjoy it so much, you must recognize the value of the other aspects: bible study, time to think and reflect, time to have fun – these things can so easily be neglected because in our society work… Read more »


Enjoyed the post & all the great comments. As I’m in business start-up mode, I’m more or less possessed by my work these days, BUT there are three things that help me step back and breathe: 1. My daughter 2. My beau 3. My morning yoga (which is a work-in-progress in terms of consistency, but I’m getting there!) Like others have already commented, I find that it’s the people in my life who help me gain the perspective I need to switch off – literally and figuratively. My daughter is 5 1/2 and absolutely does not deal well with partial… Read more »