Recently a friend of mine sent me a sketch of her art illustration and she called it the escape room. There was no context regarding what she wanted to escape from. The more I stared at the image, I started thinking about how we all need to escape from something whether it is a permanent escape or a temporary one. We all need spaces in which we feel safe and happy.
We had been talking about how fortunate we are to have found other things that we are passionate about. These serve as escape rooms from our 9-5 jobs. Although it is not easy to fit in other things when you have a full-time job, you must make time for them.
Try the following if you have a full-time job
Separate your work from your other passions. For example, if it involves using a laptop, buy one that you can use to do your other stuff. If that is not an option and have to use your work laptop, make sure that you close all work applications. You cannot really experience full escape from your day job if you keep checking emails.
Note: please check your company policies before using the work laptop for personal projects
I had not replaced my broken personal laptop when I started my blog. It was difficult to concentrate on my writing. I would get home, open the laptop, check work emails. The emails would then turn into action items and before I knew it, 2-3 hours have gone into my day job. Which was in addition to the 8 hours put in during the day. By that time, I am too exhausted to write and its already bedtime.
Sometimes I would start writing with my work applications open, reminders came up for outstanding work, I would leave my writing and deal with the action item. This was getting exhausting and frustrating, I started feeling that my writing was never going to be the escape room I needed if I kept going like this. I saved up and finally purchased my laptop.
Three things needed to happen. First, leave my work laptop at work if I was not going to need it for the evening. If I was between projects, I had to decide how many extra hours I needed, set the timer, and log off as soon as those hours were up. Second, it meant that I had to learn to better manage my work hours, keep on schedule so that I leave my laptop at work more often. Third, move all my blog related projects to my personal laptop so that I fully utilise my day at work without the temptation of writing in between. This was so I could go home and fully escape to my “escape room.”
The first few days of leaving my laptop at work were difficult, I was overcome with so much guilt. I did not realise how this had become normal in my daily routine. It got easier with time though, I was able to go home and completely log off from my day job and log onto my blog project in the evenings. Something unplanned happened along the way, I also realised that I had allowed unnecessary distractions when I am in the office. This needed to change, I had to structure my day that I get through my tasks and still allow moments of interactions with my team. I became aware of the importance of time utilization. I started to see the results of my effort.
If your work is your escape room
Ensure that your workspace allows you to fully escape. It is easy when you have to go to a physical office. But for those working from home, it can be challenging. Create a space where you can work independently. Do not merge housework and your job into one.
Some of my friends tell me that when they work from home, they juggle between work and doing their during working hours. I just imagine the exhaustion of running around and trying to focus on work. They end up extending their work hours to catch up.
Once I burned food because I went into a virtual meeting and forgot about my pots on the stove, it could have been worse.
True “escape rooms” can only be achieved if you are able to separate your work from other things. Find quiet spaces that enable you to focus on your work. If your work is what makes you happy, you want to perform at your best and achieve your set goals.
Hobbies as your escape room
At times we do not place importance on our hobbies, almost feels as if we are wasting time. We all must make time to enjoy things we love outside our other roles. Before I used to ensure that all other tasks are attended to before I get to my hobbies. By that time, I would be too exhausted to enjoy them. Hobbies were always at the bottom of my list.
If you want to escape through your hobbies, you must give them the same priority as your other aspects of your life.
For example, if gardening is your hobby, schedule time and stick to it. Set out the tasks that you want to do for the day and dress up in your gardening gear. That way you can fully enjoy your experience. Remember to let your loved ones know that this is important to you. Many people end up turning their hobbies into fulltime business, so do not take doing what you love for granted. Imagine doing what you love for the rest of your life.
For readers, make it exciting by choosing the theme of your content. Prepare your reading space, it can be in your study, garden, bed, even the library. Be in a quite space with minimum interruptions, where you can concentrate and enjoy your content. By allocating a time, you are placing importance but it also creates anticipation. I usually accompany my reading with a cup of tea. If you are reading physical books, just make sure your choice of eats will not stain your books.
Escape rooms can be in the form of spending time with family or friends
Although writing has become my escape room, I use my time with family and friends for the same purpose. Sometimes you just need great company to escape from whatever else is happening in your life. Our friends and families are usually the ones who know us without our masks on. We can be ourselves, be vulnerable without judgement.
I often see people on their phones while having dinner with family and friends. Some even answering work calls and having a whole conversation with clients at the dinner table. For these moments to save their purpose, you have to cut out other things, be in the moment and enjoy. The last thing you want to do is go home and not remember any conversations or missed out on some exciting stuff. We do not always have time to spend with our friends, so when you do, you want to leave lasting memories. Take photos if you can, to capture the moments. This way you can look back and remember how important it is to spend time with them.
You can have multiple escape rooms with each serving a different purpose. I also have “unproductive time” which I use to escape from everything. Using this time to relax my body, with a heart full of gratitude for being alive. Your escape rooms will also change depending on what is happening in your life. For parents to young children finding “escape rooms” can be challenging. Try not to place importance on how long the escape is, but the quality time you spend in it.
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We all need escape rooms in our lives. Safe spaces that we can relax, offload have fun or just be. I hope my website can be your escape room too.