Getting Off the Grid: How to Unplug From Clients & Coworkers

I don’t know about you but I’m not just on the grid, I’m all over the grid with multiple devices plugged in, turned on, and accessible.

If someone wants to find me, it will take them about a nanosecond. It’s actually a bit frightening if I think about it for more than a minute. On the other hand, this is the world we live in and there are many great aspects to being on the grid. To be honest, I enjoy being connected – most of the time.

As a business owner, many people depend on me. It’s good to be plugged in for their sake. Being accessible gives me peace of mind. I know that I’ll hear about any issue immediately because my ears are up and my antenna is on. I prefer it this way.

As a management consultant, my clients expect to be able to reach me when they have critical needs. They don’t care if I’m in my office, traveling, or on the moon. They’re paying for my firm’s services and they expect me and my fellow consultants to be plugged in, just as they are for their clients.

As a husband and father, I’m always very aware that being connected to the grid is a lifeline in times of need. I can’t imagine not being plugged in when it comes to being available for my family when they need me the most, or just to share life with them.

So, there are positive attributes of being on the grid and connected. However, there are negative attributes as well. One of the most significant is the burnout factor that results from not taking time to relax, recover, and restore. As great as it is to be on the grid, everyone needs a break. Being on the grid at all times is not healthy. Getting off the grid is essential.

In my previous life as a contractor, we used to have “flower emergencies.” These were usually problems with new plantings or irrigation systems after-hours, often on holiday weekends. To the outsider, the phrase “flower emergency” sounds like an oxymoron, but, of course, it is not. Clients pay good money for color rotations or new installations and they get very anxious when things go wrong. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a Sunday morning call from a big client with a major issue that needs immediate attention, you know I mean. It’s an emergency, even if it does involve flowers. It’s tough to get off the grid when clients expect 24/7 access.

Getting off the grid requires intentional action to plan ahead, secure adequate coverage, and to rest assured that it’s alright to be unplugged. Going dark for more than a short period of time without advanced planning is simply irresponsible in today’s world. It’s not that simple.

Here are a few things I’ve learned as I’ve attempted to get off the grid.

1. Make a commitment to do so. Plan it, book it, schedule it, tell your spouse about it and don’t go back on your commitment. If you don’t make a commitment, it will never happen.

2. Secure backup support for situations that arise. If you’re unplugged, someone needs to be in position to take care of anything that is urgent. Be sure to include this person’s contact information on your outgoing voicemail message and automated email reply.

3. If you’re going to go through all of this trouble to get off the grid, enjoy it. Go somewhere inspiring. Do something that will refresh you and recharge your engines so that when you plug back in, you will do so with energy and passion.

When is the next time you’re getting off the grid?

Now go forth.

Featured image by Joao Paulo Fernandes

Phil Harwood is a Managing Partner with Pro-Motion Consulting ( He is a green industry veteran with over 30 years of managerial experience. He graduated with honors from the Executive MBA Program at Michigan State University and was recently nominated “Alumnus of the Decade” by his peers.

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