This time last year, I dug out my sleeping bag and headed, via Leamington Spa, to an event called Comms Unplugged.
I knew little of what I was in for. But what I did know was that the event came highly recommended by my good friend, trusted advisor and former mentor, Darren Caveney.
Darren is a bit of a communications ‘god’ and his advice and guidance has been invaluable throughout my career.
Darren is one of the organisers of Unplugged, and he felt confident in recommending the event to me. He was right to do so.
Comms Unplugged is an event for communications professionals to gather together for some informal learning, relaxed networking and escapism from the always-on, digital-first world we live in.
Phones and laptops are left outside the field, and participants instead focus on the tried and tested communications methods of speaking and listening.
Across the three days in a beautiful field in Dorset, I learned new skills, made new friends and developed a connection to a more simplistic way of working – without thinking of likes, kudos, shares and other digital popularity contests.
Darren is one of the three event organisers, along with Georgia Turner and Sally Northeast. Together they make a truly formidable trio, who are committed to the wellbeing and development of their communications family.
A year later and lots had changed. Sadly, Comms Unplugged isn’t taking place. Covid put paid to that. But that doesn’t mean that people can’t take the time to unplug in their own way.
In fact, I’d encourage it.
Every communications professional I know is working tirelessly at the moment. I regularly receive emails and messages from friends and colleagues who are working long into the night.
This isn’t sustainable. We all need downtime. The irony of today being not only the planned start of Unplugged but also World Suicide Prevention Day isn’t lost on me.
Comms Unplugged will be back next year, but in the meantime, please do take some time off this weekend. Take some time away from your work emails, your communications plans, and monitoring social media. Even if you can only do this for an hour, use this time to reflect. Use it to do something that gives you peace. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
I end this blog with a special thank you to the good friends I made last year, the Comms Unplugged community and our special WhatsApp network. They are a group of people who will offer advice and support for any and all situations. With the year we’re having, this has never been more important.
You can find out more about Comms Unplugged on their website. Alternatively, a lot of the great discussion and creativity takes place on Twitter. But probably not this weekend!