Time Off, Away, and Unplugged

This is a post about my time off. I don’t usually write blog posts or even social media status updates about my free time or vacations (just share snapshots to keep friends and family in the know about my trips and important events). I use this blogging space for sharing session ideas, reflecting on my professional experience or simply asking questions. A ‘Why?’ question, for example 🙂

I recently asked myself why I am not posting/sharing much about my vacation and free time and realized that… well… I don’t have completely ‘free’ time. Being a freelancer, I have been usually working (in different meanings of ‘work’ of course) and used to see the idea of time off’ as a time to switch from one professional activity to another. If I am not writing something new, I am editing. If not working on a course (online or face-to-face), I am applying to projects. Or updating a profile. Or writing a blog post… Or reading (no, not fiction, something serious). Or… The list can be longer, and it can get boring.

Well, I do other ‘activities’ as described in this post, but oftentimes I have to ‘budget’ the time for them, and make sure I get back to ‘work mode’ not to miss a deadline, etc. I think for many teachers reading this post ‘free time’ is even bigger luxury than I can imagine.

No, this post is not about how tired I was: I love the job I have, and feel lucky for the chance to choose the projects I am working on and grow professionally as I meet fantastic teams and colleagues.It is about my personal discovery of what ‘time off’ can mean, and why I now know it is important. It is my attempt to ‘document’ this feeling and to re-read what it means next time I consider leaving my computer at home for several days in a row, stay off Facebook and only occasionally check e-mails (as you see, it was not completely ‘offline’ time)

To me, taking 6 days off work and leaving my computer at home was something I could actually ‘allow myself’ this summer. In my L1-s the same word means ‘allow’ and ‘afford’: дозволити (doz-vo-ly-ty, Ukrainian), позволить (poz-vo-lit’, Russian). In a way, I could have afforded a vacation earlier, but could only allowed it to myself this year. I did have trips before, but they combined work and pleasure (I would be still running Skype meetings with people, facilitate online course discussions, do some writing, e-mail, etc.) As you notice, I repeatedly state that I love my job, and can’t live without it. All I am saying now that I see how ‘loving my job’ and ‘having time off and away’ do not contradict each other.

This time my husband and I went to a small town in the Ukrainian Carpathian mountains and did a lot of walking, talking and hiking, coffee and wine drinking, reading and dreaming. We were noticing small things around us: the speed with which the clouds moved, the beauty of the flowers, the sounds of birds, the smell of the grass… I took more pictures than usual and was able to catch much more moments of stillness (most likely because I was able to pause, focus and wait for the right time to take a picture?)



Conclusions, lessons learned and reminders? Very simple: allow myself to have free time. Time for thinking, breathing, living. Time off, away and unplugged!

What are/were your important lessons this summer? 

Thank you for reading! 🙂

P.S. This post was inspired by Pico Iyer’s The Art of Stillness and Erling Kagge’s ‘Silence in the Age of Noise‘.

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict https://wednesdayseminars.wordpress.com/
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8 Responses to Time Off, Away, and Unplugged

  1. Sandy Millin says:

    It’s funny that having more time off the computer and outside has been one of my lessons from this summer too, as well as remembering how much I love reading for long periods of time continuously, not just in snatches in between other things. Enjoy your work, and enjoy your next time off too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Interesting how these ideas are ‘flowing’ in the ELT air! (as well ‘single tasking’ and in-depth reading) Have a great start to the school year too! Good to be connected in these various ways Sandy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Teflwaffle says:

    As someone new to freelancing as a trainer and materials editor, I enjoyed reading this post. It’s taking a while to find a balance. I’ve just been on a family holiday and even when I wasn’t working it was never far from my mind. The challenge for me is firstly to make a more conscious effort to allow myself time off, then actually switch off while i’m doing it! Next time the laptop definitely stays at home 🙂 Nice blog Zhenya, thank you.


  3. Zhenya says:

    Thank you for reading and following my blog, Telfwaffle, and for stopping by to leave your comment! Indeed, as you said, the work ‘is never too far in our mind’ and I am definitely at a beginning (awareness) stage of balancing it with quality time off. Good luck in your freelancing projects!


  4. davidkaufher says:

    I enjoy this post, Zhenya! I’m also a freelancer and I identify exactly with what you say. It’s nice to read such a positive perspective, because I find the constant running around and uncertainty can be draining at times. But I also love my job and feel fortunate to be doing something that feels so right for me. Thanks for sharing!


    • Zhenya says:

      Hi David, thank you for the comment! As you said, ‘the constant running around and uncertainty can be draining’ (agree!), and perhaps something we had not imagined when we decided to become freelancers? On the other hand, there can be a lot of that when you are employed (but much less freedom and choices?)
      One of my strategies to keep sane is to write this blog and to hear from fellow freelancers in comments! 🙂


  5. Hana Tichá says:

    Oh, how could I have missed this post? Well, I’m reading it now that I’m on holiday so it perfectly resonates with me. I love the pictures you took – this is exactly the type of holiday we like to have in the summer. And, by the way, in Czech, the word *dovolit si* means afford and allow oneself too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Hana, so good to hear from you and to know you are having a break now (as teachers, we need to remember to *dovolit si* pauses and non-work time slots to recharge, relax, take pictures and write blog posts! 🙂
      Enjoy the time to the fullest!

      Liked by 1 person

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